At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:3-7
Key Biblical X Factors / X Equals Multiplication
A look at the Acts of the Apostles from the perspective of the multiplying church . . .
Ten Behaviors of Multipliers
- Wait for the Holy Spirit’s Power
- Trust God to Provide
- Anticipate Victories Emerging from God’s Control
- Expect and Discern Divine Appointments
- Observe and Join what God is Doing
- Stand Strong Even in the Face of Opposition
- Praise First – In and Out of Adversity
- Build Bridges to the People
- Empower and Release Your Best People
- Relentlessly Focus on Bringing People to Christ and His Kingdom
Key Biblical X Factors – The Behaviors
The first four behaviors (wait, trust, anticipate, discern) are consistently found in multipliers. These four behaviors are all about becoming aligned for God to do His work. Behaviors five thru seven (observe and join, stand strong, praise first) begin the transition into horizontal activity while maintaining a clear eye on God. The final three behaviors (build bridges, empower and release, and relentlessly focus) are deliberate focused activities resulting in fulfilling God’s purpose and commission to be His multipliers all over the world.
Behavior 1 – Wait for the Holy Spirit’s Power
Acts 1:4 – Initial instruction from Jesus himself to WAIT
- Significance of His final words on Earth
- Significance of power to the previously powerless
- Significance of active waiting (see 1:14, 15, 16-26 & 2:1)
- Significant lessons from some who tried it without THE power (Acts 19:13-16)
Bottom line . . . God’s power is not token. It is not a power occasionally available. It is not a power to be fooled with. Spiritual warfare, especially in church multiplication is real. Therefore, it is critical to wait to be empowered by the Holy Spirit! Satan will aggressively work to thwart your progress. He knows it will lead to the taking of his territory.
Don’t miss the activity surrounding the word WAIT.
WAIT did not, and does not mean be idle!
Behavior 2 – Trust God to Provide
TRUSTING can be described as the activity of WAITING
Acts 1:8-8:1 – The earliest days of the church
- Trust God by exercising prayer (see 1:14, 4:24)
- Trust God by hearing from God while together (see 2:1, 46)
- Trust God by learning through the Apostles’ teaching (see 2:42)
- Trust God by allowing Him to reveal Himself (see 5:29)
Acts 16:6 and 19:10 – God’s very specific hand of direction
- The Holy Spirit keeps Paul and companions from Asia
- Now the people of Asia hear the good news
Acts 5:1-11 – The antithesis . . . the couple that did not trust God to provide
- In succession Ananias and Sapphira keep something back for personal security
- They lied to Peter, perhaps they lied to themselves
Bottom line . . . the early church leaders always had their antennas high. They listened to God and they trusted Him for specific direction.
Today more than ever we need to hear from God and receive His direction.
This concept of trust is not easy. The sooner we acknowledge that whatever is of God cannot be stopped, the sooner we will trust Him to multiply the church.
One more note—holding back is not a good option.
Behavior 3 – Anticipate Victories Emerging from God’s Control
Acts 8:1-8 – God leverages bad intentions for His purpose
- In fact God allowed the persecution to serve as a catalyst
- In fact the believers were spread throughout Judea and Samaria (see 1:8)
- In fact a growing healthy Jerusalem church becomes a multiplying church
- In fact opposition repeatedly leads to multiplication like gas on a fire (12:1-19)
Bottom line . . . Like a Judo fighter, God flips the outcome using the weight of the opposition to His advantage and to the advantage of building His kingdom. Anticipating victory means we will trust God’s perspective. When difficult times come—look hard for the Lord’s hand. With the exception of Berea, city by city throughout Acts opposition arose after the preaching of Christ. We should not be shocked by its presence today.
As was the case in Acts, adversity often comes in theological packages. In Acts 9:32 through chapter 10 the Lord brings theological clarity regarding the extent of the gospel to include Gentiles. Tension around that issue continues until closure is established in Acts 15. But the bottom line point again, God was victorious in extending the gospel to all nations, yet without compromising of the message. Honoring God’s Word on theological matters can and should result in seeing victories emerging from God.
Multiplication attracts opposition and God leverages all of this for His purposes.
The result is victory . . . anticipate victory.
Behavior 4 – Expect and Discern Divine Appointments
Acts 5:16-39 – Gamaliel keeps a divine appointment
- The appointee may or may not be aware that God is present
- Here God uses a person
- Somewhere God may use a gift
- Other times God may use a circumstance
Acts 8:26-40 – Philip’s irresistible divine appointment
- In this case the appointment came about from listening to God
- In this case the recipient of the appointment was searching for God
- In this case the appointment was successful because Philip knew the scriptures
- In this case Philip was on the move for God and his activity put him in great shape to learn about and meet the appointment
Bottom line . . . Divine appointments can come from the most unexpected places. Proper alignment with God enhances the probability for the occurrence. Again, the first four behaviors are about becoming aligned for God to do His work. WAITING, TRUSTING, ANTICIPATING and EXPECTING. Next, God moves us closer to critical strategic active behaviors.
The church multiplier properly aligned with God is now confident to observe and go with what God is doing.
Behaviors five thru seven (observe and go, stand strong and praise) begin the transition into horizontal activity while maintaining a clear eye on God.
Behavior 5 – Observe and Join What God is Doing
Acts 9:1-31 – Saul in the middle of a firestorm of God’s activity
- God was doing something and chooses Saul
- God was doing something and Saul gets on board
- God was doing something and many couldn’t figure the logic of Saul the messenger
Acts 17:16-17 – Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy
- From here on out Paul was tuned-in to his target people
- Paul adjusted his approached in a culturally different environment
- Paul demonstrates a God-given sensitivity
Bottom line . . . Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God is life-change thinking. Henry’s profound and practical thinking is an observation of intentional and effective ministries. These ministries get to know God, observe what He is doing and go with it! Saul saw the light and followed it. Paul who once followed and watched Jesus closely took a strategy out of the Lord’s playbook and connected with people where they were. Church multipliers walk with one eye on God and the other straight ahead.
The best multipliers don’t get so lost in activity that they miss the circumstance. They have good timing. They are moving.
Behavior 6 – Stand Strong Even in the Face of Opposition
Acts 5:40-6:1 – Many examples of standing strong with a great result
- Beaten with a whip and told to shut up they rejoiced and then proceeded to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ
- The number of disciples was increasing
Acts 7:59-60 – Stephen’s word and strength launch world missions
- In full recognition of the consequence Stephen proclaimed Jesus is the Christ
- Stephen offered forgiveness for he did not hold his life as important as theirs
Bottom line . . . Pain was not a deterrent. Doctors tell sufferers to try and focus on something other than the pain. Stoning is a most painful way to die. Stephen’s last thought was his focus . . . “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” Redemption for all, this is what he lived and died for. For the beaten and killed, their diligence and persistence resulted in the rapid multiplication of the church.
Consider this . . . Few believers are seeing persecution like the Chinese believers. Few places are seeing the multiplication of believers like China.
Church multipliers are more influenced by the eternal than preoccupied by the temporal.
Behavior 7 – Praise First—In and Out of Adversity
Acts 3:6-10 – The crippled beggar can’t hold back
- Peter and John gave the great gift of healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The man couldn’t help but praise God
- Sometimes praise results from a blessing
Acts 16:22-30 – Strip me, beat me and throw me into prison
- No matter, we will keep praising God
- Sometimes praise results from adversity
- God gave applause to this praise and loosened the chains
- Net result, lives are changed and people are encouraged
Bottom line . . . Always start with Praise . . . Praise First! The Jerusalem church was added to and power increased daily on the strength of worship. A healed crippled man can’t help but worship and the door is opened for thousands to come to Christ. Two physically beaten, yet spiritually alive prisoners sing praises and walls fall down.
Church multipliers recognize that praise is potent. God receives it and deserves it. He lives in this praise! He multiplies in the environment of praise.
The final three behaviors are deliberate, focused activities resulting in fulfilling God’s purpose to be His multipliers all over the world. They require a boldness that grows out of all of the behaviors already considered.
Behavior 8 – Build Bridges to the People
Acts 10:1-29 – Peter sees a new paradigm
- An uncommon Roman soldier sought God
- An uncommon message comes to Peter
- An uncommon ministry request confronts Peter
- An uncommon change of lives comes from the Holy Spirit
Acts 11:18 – Wonderment in Jerusalem
- Church leaders praise God in amazement
- Even the Gentiles are granted repentance unto life
- We are now way outside the box
Bottom line . . . Following traditions can be valuable. But GOD is always creative! Here’s another key to multiplication . . . listen even if you think you know better!
Being immovably certain of how we should minister will blind us to incredible opportunities. A bold step outside of Peter’s ministry box was like a bold step outside the boat. In this case the church was and is multiplied like never before.
Behavior 9 – Empower and Release Your Best People
Acts 6:5-7:60 – Stephen, once among the unknown
- He was once a second-stringer
- Now he is given a new leadership role in the Jerusalem church
- He is a man full of grace and power released to speak in the synagogue about Jesus
- Until now only the Apostles were speaking for the church
Acts 13:1-3 – Saul and Barnabas, the best and brightest
- The Holy Spirit gives the command
- The Holy Spirit sends people out to do His work
- The Holy Spirit is immediately obeyed by the Antioch church
- The Holy Spirit initiates the ultimate . . . churches multiplying churches by empowering and sending their best
Acts 13:5 – John Mark is empowered to help Saul and Barnabas. The great reproducible model of empowering others while being empowered yourself
Bottom line . . . our churches are filled with people who given the opportunity, equipping and blessing will impact the world and multiply the church. The Holy Spirit is not shy to ask for the best. The church at Antioch continued to thrive.
Multiplying churches are the residual of multiplying leaders.
Who says so? The Holy Spirit says so!
Behavior 10 – Relentlessly Focus on Bringing People to Christ and His Kingdom
All of Acts – Every chapter gives witness to preaching Christ and His Kingdom. It all begins with the final command of Jesus, “You will be my witnesses . . .”
- Peter gets it started in the first five chapters
- Stephen carries chapters 6 and 7
- Philip steps up in chapter 8
- Saul gets started in chapter 9
- Peter again in chapter 10
- Barnabas in 11
- Herod can’t stop it in 12
- Barnabas and Saul in 13
- Paul and Barnabas in 14 and 15
- Silas joins Paul in 16
- Paul continues from 17 to the end of the book
Acts 20:24 – Paul’s words . . . “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Bottom line . . . the players were many. The message was one. In almost every city the preaching of Christ was followed by persecution. Yet Christ was relentlessly preached. Opposition slowed nothing. In fact it was like gasoline on the fire. Relentlessly remember the main thing . . . bringing people to Christ. This is the X factor that gives purpose to all the rest that we do or think.
This is why we multiply leaders. This is why we multiply churches.
And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Jesus
What Is the Call of God?
by Steve Diehl
…What does it look like? What are you called to? The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, has been used by God to awaken the joy of connecting our passions with God’s purpose. A genuine beauty comes through purposeful living. We are fulfilled when we live out God’s plan for us. He has a call for each of us.
4 Types of Call:
The Call to Salvation…
First and foremost a call to Jesus (Matt. 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32, Acts 2:39, Romans 1:5–6, etc.).
The Call to Holiness…
Also about a call TO Jesus, being IN Christ (Romans 12, 8:28–30).
The Call to Full-Time Vocational Ministry…
Consider how these people were called:
- Moses called from a burning bush (Exodus 3)
- Joshua appointed by God (Joshua 1:1–9)
- Isaiah called in a vision (Isai 6)
- Nehemiah (chapter 1) called through distressing news
- Barnabas sent by Jerusalem church to Antioch (Acts 11:22)
- Jeremiah called from mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:4–10)
- Apostles in Mathew 4:19; 9:9, Mark 1:17
- Paul called dramatically (Romans 1:1, 1:Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:15)
The Call to a Specific Task…
- Peter and John sent by Jerusalem church to investigate what was happening in Samaria under Philip’s ministry (Acts 8:14)
- Barnabas sent from Jerusalem to Antioch to follow up on the church that had been planted there (Acts 11:22)
What The Call is NOT:
- The call is not centered in a definite event.
- The call is not always like the Macedonian call of Paul in Acts 16:9–10.
- The call is not always through a mystical experience.
- It is not the guarantee of success or failure.
- It is not extended exclusively to uniquely gifted people.
- It is not something that happens only from God directly to people.
Consider some elements of God’s calling…
When I think of calling, the image of a telephone comes to mind. Were God to connect with me using a phone, I would want to hear His voice so clearly that I’m able to say, “Yes, Lord” with the assurance that I have heard His invitation. Not that God’s calling is in any way mechanical…don’t take the analogy too far. Nor should we expect to hear an audible voice so clear that the need for faith is minimized. That said, the illustration works.
Multiple components make it possible to receive a clear voice over a phone line. The cord itself is not a single wire but multiple strands. So it is with God’s call. Consider a few strands that might help in discerning the call of God for your life and ministry.
God’s calling is rooted in Scripture and prayer
God will not call us in a direction that contradicts His Word. In the context of Sabbath rest, Hebrews 4:12 reveals that God’s Word is living and active. There is a quiet confidence that develops in the devotional life, resting upon the power and promise of God’s voice in Scripture. God speaks as we listen with an open Bible.
- As you live out the spiritual disciplines and meditate on His Word, what is God saying?
- What passages of Scripture are speaking to the depths of your heart in these days of decision?
God’s calling is righteous
Romans 8:28–29 reveals a central purpose for each of us: to become more like Jesus. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled…and fulfilled.
- What decision will position you best to become more like Jesus?
- Do you sense confirmation during times of worship?
- Does this decision line up with God’s good purpose for you and others?
God’s calling is right
Reflection on Scripture (Psalm 139, Romans 8:28–30) builds assurance that God has wired each of us for a unique purpose. He makes no mistakes. It makes sense that He would call you to a place that is with the way He designed you. Some of His wiring might be weakness for HIS strength to be manifested, but His call will be the right fit. The following questions should clarify this component of His call:
- Do your natural, God-given abilities indicate a right fit?
- Has God given you a spiritual gift that suggests a right fit for a ministry decision?
- What training have you had, and do your learned skills point to a right fit?
- Have you taken assessments that bring confirmation of “rightness?”
- What decision will best line up with your passions, values, and vision?
- What are you doing in ministry right now? God’s calling is as much about the present as the future. Abundant life and ministry are for today, not just tomorrow.
God’s calling is rightly confirmed by others
This is a critical element. This means the church, which is the family environment for ministry equipping (Ephesians 4). This means leaders in your church, in the denomination, and friends in the kingdom. What are those who know you best, including family, speaking into your life? Calling comes in the context of relationship. Listen with a discerning ear to Godly counsel.
God’s calling is sometimes revealed and punctuated by providential circumstances
Although balance between the subjective and the objective is crucial, many testimonies are shared of God bringing forth pointed circumstances to identify His hand and His invitation toward a specific task or ministry.
- What circumstances might God be using to speak to you?
- What events might form a pattern of God’s leading?
- What issues are your friends and coworkers wrestling with?
Of all these components, the most important truth to remember is that we are called first and foremost to a person. Jesus said, “Come, follow me”(Matthew 4:19). We, the sheep of His pasture, can hear His voice (John 10).
Active listening in a relationship of active following affirms God’s calling. It’s His quiet voice in the solitude of reflection that guides us. When all the strands of God’s leading are wrapped together, there grows a deep inner conviction that God’s voice is speaking clearly. This develops into a necessary sustaining conviction for those entering vocational ministry and missions.
Is your heart phone ringing? Is God calling? Don’t wait for someone else to answer. Be available. Be involved today. You’ll be glad that you plugged in, completed the connection, and answered, “Here am I, Lord. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Thoughts on the Missionary Call
“This distinction between God’s ‘general call’ and His ‘specific call’ is very similar to the distinction between God’s ‘general will’ as revealed in Scripture and his ‘specific will’ for the individual. God’s general will (call) is that I be a witness. His specific will (call) is that I be a witness in Nepal, or Chicago, or wherever” (Thomas Hale, 1995).
Calling in the General Sense
“If we have a choice and unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary, the Christian worker should choose the place of greatest need! Failure to give adequate consideration to this factor has caused the incredible inequity in the distribution of workers” (Gordon Olson, 1998).
“No one escapes the general call to mission. No one can say, ‘Witness is not for me.’ The critical question is not whether we’re called, for we are. The critical question is ‘Where am I called to?’ The answer may be to serve Jesus right where we are already, among those we live with and work beside. That is a wholly legitimate calling” (Alistair Brown, 1997).
Calling in the Specific Sense
“Being a missionary begins with being called. You don’t choose to be a missionary: you’re called to be one. The only choice is whether to obey” (Thomas Hale, 1995).