In this episode, Greg Nettle (President, Stadia Church Planting) talks with David Nelms, the founder and president of The Timothy Initiative, a church planting and multiplication organization that has started tens of thousands of churches all around the world, about the importance of church multiplication and making disciples.

Insight from Our Guest, David Nelms

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1. Rabbit churches vs. elephant churches

  • Small churches in unchurched places (where Christianity is often illegal), but that can multiply rapidly vs. churches with large congregations and footprints, but less mobility
    • For example, TTI has helped new church leaders start 113,000 house churches of about 20 people each – which means over two million people have been reached in fifteen years (as opposed to leading a few smaller churches over 37 years of ministry and reaching 6,700 people in that time frame)

2. We need to shift from focusing on church growth to focusing on church health.

    • “A healthy church is a disciple making church. So there has to be a focused intentionality, not on getting larger, but on raising up disciple makers who will in turn reproduce… Our churches are designed primarily to attract large groups of people that we give the gospel to… That’s not bad. That’s a very good thing, but there needs to be a more focused intentionality on raising up disciple makers, as opposed to primarily focusing on church growth.”

3. The best way to make disciples isn’t by starting new churches. The best way to start new churches is by making disciples.

    • “When you go into a city and you lead someone to Christ and you begin discipling that person, and they in turn reach their loved one, their friend, their neighbor, pretty soon, those new believers will gather together. When they gather together they’ll worship. They’ll study the scriptures. They’ll pray. They’ll fellowship together. The byproduct of making disciple makers is churches spring up, but the focus was not on planting churches. It was on making disciple makers.”

4. If you’re not making disciples who make disciples, you’re not making disciples at all.

  • DBS (Discovery Bible Study) is a great tool to help make disciples
  • The “look back, look up, look forward” technique is another tool that can be used
    • Look back – accountability
    • Look up – new lessons and learnings
    • Look forward – application

5. Jesus didn’t turn the world upside down – the people he discipled did.

  • When Jesus ascended, he had only 120 people in the upper room – but those 120 took the Great Commission seriously and within 30 years turned the world upside down
  • Jesus spent three full years pouring into 12 men who poured into more
    • Discipleship movements take time!

*Transcripts are created through automated processes and may contain errors

Show Links

Discovery Bible Studies

Connect with David and the Timothy Initiative

Connect with Greg Nettle and Stadia

More About: David

David serves as Founder & President of The Timothy Initiative (TTI). TTI is an international church planting movement that was established with the purpose to train and multiply disciples and disciple making churches around the world. David casts vision and gives direction to TTI as they impact the world for Christ.

David believes that TTI’s strategy to make disciples who make disciples is a simple method for spreading the Gospel to the ends of the Earth that echoes the book of Acts. He believes that as the body of Christ works together, we can finish the task Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago—to make 

disciples of every nation and people group.

David is a former senior pastor and had success in growing three different churches in Maryland, Iowa and Florida. David received a Master of Arts degree from Moody Bible Institute, a Master of Divinity from Luther Rice University, and his Doctor of Ministry from Luther Rice University. David is married to his lovely wife Loretta. They have three grown children and five grandchildren.