pick peopo dat can teach odda peopo

This isn’t a complicated idea, but – as you’ll see – it gets a bit confusing. It’s Sunday. Read it slowly.

I don’t remember who it was that pointed out the blueprint for effective disciplemaking contained in II Timothy 2:2… maybe disciplemaking guru Tommy Nelson? Not sure. The verse is pretty well known for encouraging disciplemaking, but it also gives us a handy little blueprint for creating a true disciplemaking culture.

The verse says:

[A]nd what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (ESV)

Or as the Wycliffe Hawaiian Pidgin translation translates the final part,

I mean, pick peopo dat can teach odda peopo da same tings I wen teach you.

The fascinating aspect is the verse shows us four-generation disciplemaking, which really should be our view whenever we’re impacting college students or anybody else.


impacted Timothy

which included training him to impact “faithful men

which included training those “faithful men” to impact others still.

Any other form won’t “get the job done,” if in fact getting the job done means keeping the impact going and going and going so that it’s never actually done! Here’s why:

  • If I simply impact a student, then that student is impacted. (2 generations and stop)
  • If I impact a student and turn him into an “impacter,” then many are impacted. (3 generations and stop)
  • But if I turn a student into an impacter who turns others into impacters likewise, then the disciplemaking continues indefinitely – because no one simply impacts, they impact AND raise up impacters. (4 generations and beyond)

In other words, we disciple our students to disciple disciplemakers. [Like I said, you gotta read this post sloooooowly.]

“Disciplemaking” takes a lot of forms, but ultimately it happens whenever we impact your college students. If we do that in such a way that those we impact not only turn around and impact others but teach them to impact a next “generation,” then – and only then – we’ve created perpetual impact. Hooray!


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  1. Love it. One of our students, a physicist, broke it down into what we lovingly refer to as The Equation: Pn=2×3^(n-2). If you disciple two students per year, and they each do the same every year thereafter, this gives you your discipleship output for each generation where n is the generation. If you start your first year, you’ll make a total 81 disciples over the course of a 4 year degree, and all you have to do is disciple 2 people per year.

    We’re not that rigid in our application. It, of course, never works out this tidy in real life: some people take several years, others disciple more or less than 2 per year, etc., but it’s a great way to illustrate a sound principle.

  2. Awesome. That “exponential apologetic for disciplemaking” (I think it was in Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism, right?) is so encouraging – especially when you work it out toward 10 and 20 years’ worth.

    But the key is, like this post talks about, making disciplemaking part of our training of disciples. It’s easy to impact without teaching to impact, but then the equation stops at Pn=2Xn. Which is way less fun.

    Not to quibble, but n isn’t technically the generation but the year, right? Because this includes the original person continuing to make “second generations” each year, yes?

    And now that I’m looking at it, I’m confused – maybe I’m missing something with the equation? Because I’m not making it solve for 81 for any integer n. Also, is n the number of years that have passed, or the number of year we’re starting?

    Sorry to be nerdy, but… I am. And I really like equations like this, so I wanna make sure I have it right.

  3. n is the year, and it does assume that everyone continues to make new disciples each year. Also, you have to count yourself and start with n=2 for the first year you disciple people. The output is just for that year, so you have to add up the outputs for all the years 1-4 to get 81.

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