Multiplying Disciples

By Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D.

Would you like to see why the Biblical model for discipleship is also such a powerful indicator of how your church can plan for revival?  Read on to see some amazing mathematics!

While this essay explains why S.A.L.T. (Support and Leadership Training) has been a mission near and dear to my heart, as I believe it is to the Lord's.  Since 1993 I have been traveling to South America with the founder of S.A.L.T., Gabe Agostini, working with him to teach and train church leaders in Latin America.  SALT was born out of his vision to make training accessible and affordable to those who could not get to the Bible schools or seminaries in the larger cities.  It is a ministry of multiplication of disciple-makers, at the heart of the Great Commission.  My own involvement with “Professor” Agostini (Gabe) has taken me on eighteen brief mission trips (as of Sept. 2012) to dozens of locations in Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Chile helping train indigenous church leaders.  Now my key area of emphasis is going to be with the training of Christian counselors through a new International School of Christian Counseling in Lima, Peru.

 A word is in order about the importance of missions.

 1)      The Great Commission commands us to GO into all the world, to all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).  We begin in our own back yard (Acts 1:8a)(Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria), hence we need to support local ministries, but then we are called to reach the rest of the world (Acts 1:8b).  Israel’s problem in Biblical times in part was cultural narcissism, where they were wrapped up in their own communities and did not recognize God’s calling for them to be lights to the world and reach beyond their borders with a message of submission to the One true God.  I fear that many of the local churches in the USA have the same mindset, which is why the average church’s foreign mission giving is only one to two percent of their total budget.  The Lord will return and inquire about our stewardship and obedience to the Great Commission.  (I recognize that some churches have a good grasp on this issue and support many missionaries, and I know some churches with budgets that tithe or even go up to 40% of their budget in mission giving!  Kudos to them!)

 2)      Local ministries are necessary, and I believe in support to them as well with both service and donations.  I believe, however, that local ministries have more donors to whom they can appeal.  Resources are more plentiful here in the USA.  We can hear the gospel through a wide range of radio and TV programs, contrary to many countries throughout the world. .  For me, however, visiting South America eighteen times has impressed upon me the needs of our brothers and sisters in Latin America, thus my burden is particularly directed to them. A meaningful passage for me has been I John 3:17 which says “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”  This does not invalidate the importance of local ministry support, but simply explains my own heart for Latin America.  Are we balanced in supporting local ministries as well as maintaining a world vision that acknowledges our being united to the whole Body of Christ worldwide?    

 So, why do I recommend others support S.A.L.T. in particular?  Here is a more in-depth answer.

 S.A.L.T. does not just go, take teams that do good works, and provide funding for projects in Latin America (although this does happen through SALT each year).  Instead, its primary focus is to reach the church leadership in Latin America, primarily those called to pastoral ministry who cannot access or afford seminary/Bible school training.  It is estimated that only 5% of the pastors in Latin America actually have a Bible School or Seminary education!  (Hosea 4:6 - “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”) SALT goes to more remote locations and brings qualified teachers (Masters degree or better) to them, and at our own expense as volunteers.  Indigenous church leaders travel from all around to come to cities accessible to them.  On one trip to the Amazon region, one pastor came three days by boat just to attend a two day class.  In the Andes mountain region, another pastor walked 22 hours to get the training.  SALT’s courses are accredited through national C&MA seminaries in Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The pastors are hungry for spiritual food and training, and SALT is able to extend beyond the boundaries imposed by the big city locations of these seminaries to those who cannot afford to uproot their lives.  Most pastors are of the “tentmaker” variety, for financial reasons, and must work second jobs to support their families. 

 Satan also is active, not only through the political leaders and movements (Latin America, like the world, has many challenges politically), but through false doctrines and unhealthy teaching which can spread rapidly, such as extreme discipleship movements (one movement teaches discipleship that leads to control of every detail of people’s lives), and extreme "prosperity gospel" teaching (leading to guilt, shame, denial of feelings, increased internal suffering, decreased external support, and potential materialistic focus).  Latin America is in need of mature leaders who are trained and equipped for the ministry and can more accurately interpret God’s Word and share the true gospel and prevent error from spreading.

 By reaching the leaders, there is the multiplication effect of ministry (II Tim. 2:2).  As you know, many mission trips help meet the local needs of believers around the world.  They may help provide food, clothing, building projects, etc.  Even evangelistic efforts can help local churches in other countries grow by 10’s or even hundred’s through a mission team’s efforts.  If a mission team brings 100 people to Christ each year for thirty years, they will have reached 2,000 people for the Lord.  By training just 100 pastors each year to duplicate themselves by training only one person in ministry every three years, at the end of thirty years over 102,000 leaders could be trained! (See Chart A below.)  While I recognize that the numbers of people reached as we look at Chart’s B & C below may seem grandiose, I strongly believe that this simply illustrates that the training of indigenous leadership in countries around the world is a key to fulfilling the Great Commission.  Leaders from within each country can more effectively reach their own culture. In 2011, SALT provided training for over 1,400 church leaders in thirty-two different cities in four South American countries.   It is a small mission organization with a big vision, and it is in a position to grow due to the need recognized by Latin American church leaders!  It is a ministry worthy and in need of support.

 Consider the following charts to catch the vision of what God is doing and wants to do throughout the world!


           Often church mission budgets are supportive of evangelistic efforts which provide an addition effect (left column).  While S.A.L.T. is evangelistic and does this to a degree, the primary focus is multiplication of leaders.  Since the requirements for completion of a degree through SALT is typically three years, the chart below shows the multiplication effect of training leaders.  I consider these numbers to be less than what actually is occurring right now!

 At end of year                         # souls reached directly

                             Addition                                 Multiplication

(If you reach out and bring                                (If leaders are trained to recruit

100 people to know Christ)                             and teach one person to duplicate

                                                                       themselves in a three year period)

3rd  year             100                                 100  (first graduates)

                                                                             (If each one trains only one

                                                                             extra person every three years)

 6th year                 + 100 = 600                            + 100 + 100 = 300

9th year                 + 100 = 900                             + 100 + 600 = 700

12th year               + 100 = 1,200                          + 100 + 1400 = 1,500

15th year          + 100 = 1,500                  + 100 + 3,000 = 3,100

18th year               + 100 = 1,800                          + 100 + 6,200 = 6,300

21st year               + 100 = 2,100                          + 100 + 12,600 = 12,700

24th year               + 100 = 2,400                          + 100 + 25,400 = 25,500

27th year               + 100 = 2,700                          + 100 + 51,000 = 51,100

30th year          + 100 = 3,000                  + 100 + 102,200 = 102,300


Now, consider the fact that through addition and evangelism without the duplication of discipleship, you will have reached 3,000 souls for Christ after thirty years of evangelistic mission trips (left column above).  However, if you train church leaders who can in turn duplicate themselves, you will have indirectly trained over 100,000 church leaders who will be doing the work of the ministry in that same period of time! 


 Evangelism and discipleship are taught as part of the S.A.L.T. curriculum.  The real impact of training leaders can be seen when you consider the following:  If each one of those pastors and church leaders (in the Chart A, multiplication column above) evangelizes and brings just one soul to Christ each year, and trains that person to train another in evangelism, who can then brings one more soul to a saving knowledge of Christ in the following year; when that pattern is duplicated, EACH ONE could reach 1,572,863 people after twenty-one years (see E.E. chart below).   That could mean that in twenty-one years, SALT’s indirect impact through evangelism by the national leadership in Latin America could be phenomenal through the power of multiplication!!  This past year, SALT trained approximately 1,400 church leaders in four countries, in 32 different cities, throughout Latin America.  God is bringing revival, and SALT is one ministry the Holy Spirit is using to have a direct impact for the Kingdom!


(Idea borrowed from Evangelism Explosion by Dr. D. James Kennedy)

 At end of year             # souls reached directly by each church leader trained

                                    Addition                                             Multiplication

(If you reach out and bring                           (If leaders are trained to evangelize one

one person to know Christ)                              and teach one person to duplicate

                                                                     themselves in one year’s time)

1st year           1                                                 1

                                                                        (If each one evangelizes and trains only

                                                                        one extra person each year, and that

                                                                         pattern continues each year)

 2nd year            1+ 1  = 2                                   1 + 1 = 2 (ready to train others)

3rd year            1 + 2 = 3                                     1 + 4 = 5

4th year             1 + 3 = 4                                    1 + 10 = 11

5th year        1 + 4 = 5                                     1 + 22 = 23

6th year             1 + 5 = 6                                    1 + 46 = 47

7th year             1 + 6 = 7                                    1 + 94 = 95

8th year             1 + 7 = 8                                    1 + 190 = 191

9th year              1 + 8 = 9                                   1 + 382 = 383

10th year        + 9 = 10                                    1 + 766 = 767

11th year          1 + 10 = 11                                 1 + 1534 = 1535

12th year          1 + 11 = 12                                 1 + 3070 = 3071

13th year          1 + 12 = 13                                 1 + 6142 = 6143

14th year          1 + 13 = 14                                 1 + 12,286 = 12,287

15th year      1 + 14 = 15                                 1 + 24,574 = 24,575

16th year          1 + 15 = 16                                  1 + 49,150 = 49,151

17th year          1 + 16 = 17                                  1 + 98,302 = 98,303

18th year          1 + 17 = 18                                  1 + 196,606 = 196,607

19th year          1 + 18 = 19                                  1 + 393,214 = 393,215

20th year      1 + 19 = 20                                1 + 786,430 = 786,431

21st year          1 + 20 = 21                                  1 + 1,572,862 = 1,572,863


Discipleship Revival & Multiplication of Ministry

            Chart C below demonstrates the power of training leaders who will multiply our efforts. (II Tim. 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”)  Investing in ministries such as S.A.L.T. ( that help train leaders will provide for better stewardship of resources than mission trips that emphasize one-on-one evangelism, crusades, medical clinics, building projects, or other forms of good works, even though they are necessary as part of a balanced ministry as well.  SALT incorporates all of these extra projects, when possible, but with a primary emphasis of training mature church leaders who can carry on the work of multiplying ministry leaders.  (The difference between Chart A and Chart C is the duplication work being done every year as opposed to every three years.  This may be less likely, but it is possible, especially if each pastor was mentoring and discipling three others at any given time, and the basics, including evangelism, were part of that training.)  This is a recipe for revival (if led and blessed by the Holy Spirit, of course)!


At end of year                         # souls reached directly

                                    Addition                                 Multiplication

(If you reach out and bring                                        (If leaders are trained to recruit

100 people to know Christ)                                       and teach one person to duplicate

                                                                                 themselves in one year’s time)

1st year           100                                                      100

                                                                                    (If each one trains only

                                                                                    one extra person each year)

2nd year             + 100 = 200                                    100 + 200 = 300

3rd year              + 100 = 300                                    100 + 600 = 700

4th year              + 100 = 400                                    100 + 1400 = 1,500

5th year         + 100 = 500                           100 + 3,000 = 3,100

6th year             + 100 = 600                                    100 + 6,200 = 6,300

7th year             + 100 = 700                                    100 + 12,600 = 12,700

8th year             + 100 = 800                                   100 + 25,400 = 25,500

9th year             + 100 = 900                                   100 + 51,000 = 51,100

10th year      + 100 = 1000                        100 + 102,200 = 102,300

11th year          + 100 = 1,100                                100 + 202,600 = 202,700

12th year          + 100 = 1,200                               100 + 405,400 = 405,500

13th year          + 100 = 1,300                               100 + 911,000 = 911,100

14th year          + 100 = 1,400                               100 + 1,822,200 = 1,822,300

15th year      + 100 = 1,500                      100 + 3,644,600 = 3,644,700

16th year          + 100 = 1,600                             100 + 7,289,400 = 7,289,500

17th year          + 100 = 1,700                             100 + 14,579,000 = 14,579,100

18th year          + 100 = 1,800                              100 + 29,158,200 = 29,158,300

19th year          + 100 = 1,900                              100 + 58,316,600 = 58,316,700

20th year      + 100 = 2,000                      100 + 116,633,400 = 116,633,500


Note how through each leader investing one year training another leader who can in turn train another new leader in every subsequent year, the multiplication effect (right column) show phenomenal growth in twenty years, compared to an approach to simple evangelism where no leaders are trained (left column).  These numbers may seem grandiose, but they illustrate the power of in-depth discipleship and helping believers mature one at a time.

Spiritual warfare and a host of factors may diminish these numbers, but through the Holy Spirit’s working and revival, the numbers could be even greater.  Our task is to be faithful and obedient to our calling.

What are the implications of all of this regarding counseling ministries, shepherding the shepherds, in-depth discipleship and leadership training, etc., in each of our churches?  SALT's oversight of the International School of Christian Counseling is seeking to do this in the specialized area of counseling for the sake of fulfilling our call to love one another and disciple those with deeper emotional and relational problems so that the body of Christ may be more unified and healthy in every way possible.
Final challenge:  consider who YOU can disciple in greater depth, to eventually multiply the work you are doing.