Jesus’ Coverage Principles and Strategies: Transferability and Reproducibility
– By Shodankeh Johnson –
I’m the team leader of New Harvest Global Ministries, based in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I am also connected with New Generations, and I do training globally for New Generations, based in the United States. I’ve been involved in DMM work and church planting for my whole adult life, and I am thankful to the Lord for that opportunity and experience.
I would like to share with you about Jesus’ Coverage Principles and Strategies: Transferability and Reproducibility. By following Jesus’ transferable and reproducible coverage strategies, indigenous churches can reproduce multiple movements. Jesus applied a few basic strategies and principles throughout his ministry. Knowing these things helps us tremendously in obeying the Great Commission and reaching out to UUPGs around the world.
As Jesus entered the arena of his mission, he had a commission from his Father. He had the end in mind even before the beginning. He thought very strategically about easily reproducible coverage principles and strategies. Among those was a vision of the kingdom and the harvest. Of the kingdom, he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). The kingdom of heaven was very important to Jesus’ ministry. He wanted his disciples to clearly understand what the kingdom was about, so he spoke often about the kingdom.
This was not the mission of a denomination. It was not the mission of a church. It was the mission of the kingdom. So Jesus clearly enunciated kingdom principles. If we want to see multiple movements happening among UUPGs, we have to clearly teach, coach and preach about the kingdom. Let people understand what the kingdom is. Understanding the vision of the kingdom makes the work simple. People need to know that their motivation for doing the work is not to be paid money. It’s also not about titles. It’s all about the kingdom of God. So we need to teach the kingdom very clearly.
Jesus also spoke about the harvest. He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:7-38). If we want to see UUPG’s reached, we need to clearly understand and present the kingdom and the harvest. We need to impress the vision of kingdom and the harvest on the hearts of the people we teach and coach. This will help avoid the temptation and the traps many people are falling into. Things like, “It’s all about my denomination.” “It’s all about my church.” “It’s all about my own empire.” It’s all about the kingdom and the harvest!
The next principle Jesus enunciated was abundant prayer. Prayer was very critical to Jesus’ ministry; he knew that prayer is the engine on which movements run. Without abundant prayer, a culture of prayer, the church is just taking a walk. Jesus himself did a lot of praying, even before he started his ministry (Luke 4:1-2). He prayed before choosing his 12 disciples (Luke 6:12-13). He also prayed every day before starting his day (Mark 1:35). And he prayed often (Luke 5:16). Jesus also taught his disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-4). Jesus was a praying man. He prayed before raising Lazarus. He prayed for his disciples in John 17:1-25. He prayed before performing miracles. He even told his disciples to pray for their enemies (Matthew 5:44). He prayed three times when he was facing death. His first word on the cross was prayer and his last word on the cross was prayer.
He was a praying man; prayer was a powerful coverage principle of Jesus. It is easily transferable and reproducible in any culture; it can lead to multiple churches in any community. God’s people need to spend time in prayer and fasting. We should coach and teach our disciples to pray. We should pass on this message on to our disciples: to pray and fast as Jesus did. Even though he was God in the flesh, he prayed before he started his ministry. If Jesus prayed so much, we need to also pray so much. If we hope to see any success among UUPGs, we need a praying ministry. We need praying disciples. As we keep praying and raise up disciples to fast and pray, we can hope to see multiple movements. Remember that prayer is the engine of a movement. Just as Jesus had a clear vision of kingdom and the harvest, he had a vision of abundant prayer.
Another of Jesus’ coverage principles was the principle of ordinary people. Jesus empowered people, empowered every believer. That is how ministry becomes scalable and reproducible: through ordinary people. When we read Matthew 4:18, Matthew 10:2-4, and Acts 4:13, we see how Jesus placed emphasis on ordinary people. Ordinary people were Jesus’ plan A and only plan. They still are Jesus plan A and only plan. Ordinary people are going to get the job done. As we coach and disciple people, we need to emphasize looking for ordinary people. This is transferable and reproducible. Wherever you go around the world, you can find ordinary people. We have huge numbers of ordinary people sitting in the pews.
Jesus knew he was not looking for professionals. He was looking for ordinary people. As we look at all the people around Jesus, every one of them was an ordinary person. He put his emphasis on ordinary people. Coaching them and training them and enabling them to become what he wanted them to be. So if we are going to see movements happen around the world, if we intend to reach UUPGs, let’s do it with ordinary people. Wherever we go – in every community, in every culture – look for the ordinary people, just as Jesus did. The coverage principle and strategy of ordinary people was key to the ministry of the Jesus, and it can lead to multiple movements around the world.
The next coverage principle Jesus spoke about was making disciples who make disciples. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus told his disciples very clearly: they needed to go into to the world. He wanted them to GO! But when you go, what is the key thing? What is the key strategy? As you go, make disciples. Making disciples is very key to the coverage strategies and principles of Jesus. He was not interested in comfort; he was interested in disciples. Because he knew that making disciples is transferable and reproducible. Disciples that make disciples will lead to multiple movements as they obey. He did not just want knowledge-based disciples. He wanted obedience-based discipleship. That’s why Paul wrote to Timothy: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). I want focus on what Paul wrote to Timothy: the teaching that you had, the coaching I’m giving you, the training I’m giving you – it is very important that you heard it from me among witnesses when I was doing this. You need to now invest in disciples making disciples. You also turn around and commit to faithful disciples who will then equip others. This is the multi-generational coaching and training that Paul imparted to Timothy, who also committed it to other faithful disciples. Jesus made obedience-based disciples. If we want any chance to see multiple movements, we need to teach, preach, coach, and model obedience – the way Jesus did it and taught it to his disciples.
The next principle was the person of peace, as we see in Matthew 10:11-14. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he told them: “Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it. If it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” He told them: “Go out and look for worthy person.” We call this a person of peace: somebody God has prepared ahead of you in the community. The person of peace is the bridge into the community. The person of peace is the person of influence who is willing to receive you and listen to your message, and most times becomes a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus knew very well that his movement would be a movement of people already inside each culture. The person of peace principle shortcuts all the barriers and culture and religious red tape that we have today. If we want to see movements happen among UUPGs, we need to apply the person of peace principle. It is less expensive. It is also very easy. Because when you have a cultural insider, they don’t need to go and learn all the languages. They already know the languages. You don’t need to spend so much on the insider. Because that is already their culture, they have a passion. They know the area and they understand the culture and world view and can easily relate. The insider already has relationships in the culture. That’s why Jesus anchored proclamation on the principle and strategy of the person of peace. This is transferable and reproducible in any culture.
Another of Jesus’ coverage principles is the principle of the Holy Spirit, as we see in John 14:26; 20:22 and Acts 1:8. Jesus emphasized the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit plays an important role in sustainable movements happening all around the world. The Holy Spirit is the source of living water in the life of disciples and disciple makers, as promised in John 7:37-38. The Holy Spirit is the helper and the teacher in the process of DMM. We read in John 14:26; 16:14-15, 32 that the Holy Spirit is the indwelling power that qualifies us to be witnesses for the Kingdom. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, until you receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and then you will be my witnesses.” The Holy Spirit worked uncommon miracles and emboldened even the most timid disciples, as we see in Acts 4:18-20; 9:17. The Holy Spirit can use even the most unlikely people to open doors for rapid multiplication. In Acts 10:44-48 we see that the Holy Spirit is not just for people in the past; he is for all of us today. We will never see a sustainable disciple making movement without the sustained power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus emphasized this coverage principle because he knew your location around the world really doesn’t matter. The Holy Spirit can reach you wherever you are. This principle is transferable; you can take it anywhere. You can reproduce it anywhere. If we want to see this work happen, we need to do it the Jesus way. The Holy Spirit is essential for this work. He is important for every indigenous church, every disciple and every disciple maker.
The next principle is simplicity of the Word. In Matthew 11:28-30 and Luke 4:32 we see that Jesus was not only welcoming in his character; he was also simple in his teaching. The crowds loved his teaching because of its simplicity. Jesus makes complex things simple and he makes simple things even simpler. If we want to see breakthrough among UUPGs, we need to follow this transferable coverage principle of Jesus: making things very simple.
The next coverage principle Jesus used was access ministry, or what some call compassion ministry. We see that in Matthew 9:35; 14:17; Luke 9:11; 11:1; Mark 6:39-44. Jesus used healing as the access ministry in Matthew 9:35. In Luke 9:11 Jesus again used healing as the access ministry. He also used food as access ministry (compassion ministry). We should learn from Jesus and hold with an open hand whatever God has blessed us with, for the advancement of the Kingdom.
The next principle Jesus used was asking his disciples to depend on God for the resources (Matt. 10:9-10; Ps. 50:10-12). Every one of us should adopt this coverage principle. It’s transferable and reproducible. And if we adopt it, it will lead to movement. Jesus’ message was very clear: “Go with nothing and depend on God for the resources.” We know that God has supported his work in the past, and he will always support his work in the future if it’s done his way. The global church cannot in any way bankrupt a global God. His resources are unlimited. We can depend on God for his resources. When we cry out to him, he will supply the resources. Jesus knew that if we apply this principle, we will see an explosion. We will see multiplication and reproducibility. This is so transferable – in any culture, among any indigenous church. If we do it the way Jesus did it, we can come back to what we saw in the Acts of the Apostles. What happened in the early days of the church can begin to happen again in our churches. It can surely begin to happen among UUPGs. But if we don’t do it Jesus way, we are wasting our time. This is God’s business, so if we want to succeed, we have to do it Jesus’ way. This is his coverage principle. It’s his plan and he will not change it for anyone.
To summarize, I want to remind you again about Jesus’ vision of the harvest and the kingdom. About abundant prayer. About ordinary people. I want to remind you about these coverage principles: Disciples making disciples who make disciples, and the person of peace. I also want to remind you about the coverage principle of the Holy Spirit and simplicity of the Word. And don’t forget access ministry (compassion ministry) and depending on God for the resources. We need to keep these in our minds.
I assure you that when we do things God’s way, he is always faithful, as he has always been faithful in the past. The world is changing and will continue to change, but our God will never change. You will never bankrupt God by asking for anything in prayer. I believe God can use you for great things in seeing a movement. Let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into the harvest field. Let’s also pray that wherever people go with the gospel the door will be open for them. That they will be able to bring this gospel to people who are lost and dying. Let us also cry out to God for the resources for the work. Let us pray for persons of peace – that God will open doors and identify the persons of peace.
These coverage strategies are transferable and reproducible in any culture. Indigenous churches can use them to lead to multiple coverage movements. This is not theory. This is what I have lived for, what I’m working for and what (if need be) I would die for. I encourage us all that this can be done. Put these things in your heart and pray for them. It can be difficult at the beginning. But trust that God will give you the breakthrough. He has done it for us as we have seen multiple churches all over. The same can happen for you. So I encourage you to be strong. Amen.