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The Numbers Game

By Doug Franklin December 20, 2016

It all started with Jesus calling a few men to follow him.

His concern was not with programs, but with men whom the multitudes would follow. The initial objective of Jesus’ plan was to enlist people who could bear witness to his life and carry on his work after he returned to the Father. These first converts had little immediate effect on the religious life of the day, but their lives, in time, had an impact throughout eternity.

None of the men Jesus chose seemed to be key people. They weren’t prominent in the synagogues, educated, or wealthy. They weren’t the men you would expect to win the world for Jesus, but they were teachable. They were “unlearned and ignorant” (Acts 4:13), but Jesus saw in them the potential to be leaders in the Kingdom.

The wisdom of Jesus’ method is that he concentrated on a few. A transformed world comes only through transformed individuals, and individuals change as they are molded in the hands of the Master. Hence, as the company of followers around Jesus increased, it became necessary to narrow the select company to a more manageable number; thus Jesus chose twelve apostles.

All other things being equal, the more concentrated the size of the group being taught, the greater the opportunity for effective instruction. He didn’t exclude others from following him, but it is undeniable that his attention was focused on the few and not on the many. Even within the twelve there was a select apostolic group of Peter, James, and John. Jesus staked his whole ministry on the apostles; the fringe could fall away, but the close disciples could not miss his purposes or all was lost!

Jesus thought about numbers totally differently than us. We tend to like big numbers; he tended to like small ones.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More