I had the opportunity recently to read Fr. Simon Lobo’s wonderfully written book “Divine Renovation Apprentice: Learning how to Lead a Disciple-Making Parish”. Fr. Simon is the current pastor of St Benedict Parish in Halifax Nova Scotia, the venue for a Divine Renovation Conference that my wife, Helen, and I will be attending in June of this year. The book is full of sound advice on how to move from “maintenance” to “mission”. One of his comments struck a familiar chord with me probably because I had encountered the issue in my own business. Fr Simon told the story of a parishioner who was particularly gifted as a chef who offered to do the cooking himself for the upcoming Alpha course offered at St Benedict’s but was told that he would not be allowed to do it solo. St Benedict’s was wanting to serve meals to the participants rather than deal with the meals in potluck style. Parish staff wisely took the position that the chef volunteer was expected to create a team who could assist in the kitchen. Although the volunteer had the ability to operate on a solo basis the underlying value in the ministry of service and hospitality was to build up others in those gifts.
Successful businessmen have understood the multiplication factor. Our parishes also need to understand it and employ it in their ministry endeavors. If St Joseph’s is to be successful in moving to mission and building up intentional disciples, it will be accomplished largely by the efforts of our lay members who need to discover and utilize their gifts. Part of that process is to put effective mentorship processes in place. As St Paul advises in 2 Timothy 2:2 “Pass on to reliable people what you have heard from me so that they in turn will be able to teach others”. Spiritual multiplication recognizes that the Pastor requires others to join him in the mission. That means that lay leaders, if their Pastor is going to multiply himself, will need to be ready to free up time to walk along side their Pastor, and allow him to pour his heart into theirs. In our maintenance model, we experience spiritual addition not spiritual multiplication. As Fr. Simon says “everything goes straight to the priest and is expected to come directly from him. If we persist in this model we will limit the number of lives that can be transformed. The way that the Pastor can bear the most fruit is through shifting his mindset to think in terms of spiritual multiplication—raising up others to join in the mission”.
Spiritual multiplication, as Fr. Simon says, is about “leaving a legacy”. “That legacy is not about things but is about people who have discovered your mind and your heart. If you have a burning desire to lead people to Jesus, this passion needs to be passed on to others so that the mission will be carried on long after you are gone”.
There are many truisms we must digest and adopt as we move along the path to mission. The multiplication factor is one of them.