In Matthew 9:36-38, we read that Jesus told His first disciples the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. He then stated His solution to the problem: pray for God to thrust out His children from their own places into the fields that are ripe for harvest. The harvest is ready. It just needs laborers to bring it in. 

We have heard these words before. In fact, they get repeated so often that it’s easy to miss their importance. In 2011, movement catalysts *Ethan and *Nicole began to wrestle with this description of the harvest. “Was Jesus right? Is the harvest actually plentiful?” They had to admit they believed the opposite: “A plentiful harvest, Jesus? Really? Lord, if only You knew how things are in this place! People aren’t interested in You or Your Kingdom.”  

They started to ask themselves some serious questions: “What if the bottleneck isn’t, in fact, with the lost but with us, His children? With me, His child?” They searched the Scriptures, asking the Lord to show them what they were missing. He showed them two things:

First, they read the parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 with new eyes. In the story, the Shepherd doesn’t hang out with the found sheep. He goes out looking for the lost one. Ethan and Nicole asked themselves: “Who are we in this story?” Every time they had previously read the parable, they had put themselves in the position of the lost. But the truth is, Jesus had found them a long time ago. They were safe! So, where’s the shepherd? He’s out looking for the one who’s lost. 

Ethan and Nicole knew they wanted to be out with the Shepherd. The question was, practically, what would that take? For them, it meant freeing up schedules. They were so busy doing Christian things with Christians that they didn’t know many people who weren’t Christians. They realized they needed to stop spending so much time in the church. It was time to actually go OUT. If that’s where Jesus was, they wanted to be with Him there.  

Second, a simple statement from a dear friend engaged their hearts. He said, “Sheep make sheep.” What?! They stared dumbfounded at him as he explained, “Shepherds don’t make sheep. Sheep make sheep, naturally.” They realized that they had spent many years and much effort training shepherds (pastors, church leaders) to go make sheep. But, if sheep make sheep, then they needed to rethink everything.

As they searched the Scriptures, they were amazed to see how quickly Jesus equipped and released sheep (His disciples) to go and make other sheep, including those who knew little-to-nothing about Him, who came from ugly backgrounds or who had little-to-no education (e.g. Mark 5:19-20; John 4:28-30, 39). 

So, they changed their tactics. They began encouraging sheep to make other sheep, starting from their first encounter with Jesus and His Word. They said it like this: “Truth is not to be hoarded, but shared. With whom can you share this Bible story we studied today? With whom can you share your story of all Jesus has done for you?” 

They found that when new “sheep” were encouraged, even expected, to freely pass on to others all they were learning, they multiplied themselves. And it happened quickly. In one year, they made disciples of Jesus who made disciples, who made more disciples, seven times over.

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