Ying Kai and the Power of Multiplication
“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times. — Mark 4:8
Ying was reluctant. He knew about the reputation of Nandong’s authoritarian government. So the businessman took Ying and Grace on a tour of the region. Later Ying recalled his reactions:
As we rode the train, we passed many factories. The man told us about every factory we passed. He would say, “This factory has 3,000 workers. I know the owner. He hopes that someone will come to share the gospel, but we cannot find anyone who will come.”
The biggest factory we passed has 70,000 people. When we saw all the lost people of these factories, God opened our eyes and our minds. I realized, “These people need the gospel.”1
Ying was called by God to reach the twenty million people in this rapidly growing urban center where each day thousands of new migrant workers arrive looking for work and a better life.
Ying knew that he would have to do things differently to reach Nandong. He knew that merely adding disciples and churches would not be enough; he had to tap into the power of multiplication. As Ying prayed, God gave him three insights for those who are called to make disciples:
• Go, not come. The Great Commission does not say we are to invite people to come to us. It says we are to go. We must go where the lost are and train new believers to go also to the lost—into factories, homes, shops, and neighborhoods.
• Everyone, not some. We must make disciples of all, not just a few. We typically choose whom we want to share the gospel with, trying to prejudge who might accept it. But God said to share with everyone. We cannot predict who will believe and whom God will use to birth a movement.
• Make disciples and trainers, not passive church members. Jesus wants true disciples who obey his commands—including the commands to witness to others and train new believers to do the same. Every disciple must be a trainer.
Ying the church planter and pastor became Ying the trainer and catalyst for Church-Planting Movements. He called his process of making disciples “Training for Trainers” (T4T). “Trainer” conveys the idea of someone who both grows in his loving obedience to Jesus and passes on what he learns to others through witness and training.
The T4T process trains believers to share the gospel and make disciples in a reproducible way. The discipleship training process includes new group and church formation along with leadership development.
Ying and Grace began by training one class of thirty believers. They taught the trainees that each of them had a unique story to tell of how they met Jesus. They trained them to tell their story and helped them to identify five people they would share with in the following week.
The next week seventeen of the thirty trainees reported sharing their story, and one farmer had shared with eleven people. The following week Ying raised the level of accountability and allowed only those who were sharing their story to continue with the training. Two months later, the trainees had started twenty small groups. After six months there were 327 small groups and 4,000 newly baptized believers scattered across seventeen towns. Within twelve months, there were 908 house churches with more than 12,000 new Christians.
One old farmer who had never before planted a church started twelve house churches in two months and 110 in the first year. He began every day reading his Bible from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Then he worked in the fields until 5 p.m., at which point he went home for dinner and family time. At 7 p.m. he went back out again, and he worked in “God’s fields” until midnight.
In another town a 67-year-old woman became a Christian and in one year led more than sixty families to become believers.
In another example, Ying lost touch with a Christian factory worker he had trained. After six months, he learned that the worker had been transferred to another large factory with ten thousand workers. During those six months, the worker had started seventy small groups and seen ten generations of reproduction (churches planting churches).
By the year 2003, Ying and Grace were training 300 to 400 believers each month. As the Kais trained them to be trainers of trainers, they found that many would witness, some would start new groups, and a smaller number would go on to train their new group members to repeat the process. Hundreds and then thousands began to come to faith.
Immediately after coming to faith, new believers were equipped and held accountable to witness to relatives, neighbors and close friends. These new believers were taught to train and follow up with those they led to Christ. The trainers learned simple, reproducible Bible lessons and taught them to new believers who were encouraged to form into new churches.
Urban streams of new converts jumped from neighborhood to neighborhood and from factory to factory as believers changed jobs. The T4T training prepares new believers to be seeds so that when the church is scattered, whether by dangers or opportunities, new churches are planted.
In the most recent survey of the Kais’ ministry, more than 1.7 million people have come to faith and been baptized. Every month trained workers start two thousand house churches and small groups in villages, urban high-rise apartments and factories. Over 140,000 churches have been started in what is currently the world’s fastest growing church planting movement.
In other parts of the world, T4T has birthed new Church-Planting Movements within Hindu, Muslim and animist contexts among both literate and nonliterate peoples. T4T has also begun to bear fruit in the United States and Australia.
Ying Kai’s strategy has been to aggressively train every willing local Christian in how to be more obedient in their spiritual life, how to effectively share their faith person to person, how to immediately follow up with new believers, and how to initiate reproducing groups which often become churches. Training, encouraging, and holding existing and new Christians accountable to become trainers of trainers has characterized this Church-Planting Movement. Ying’s story demonstrates the power of multiplication at work
At the heart of this amazing movement is a simple process for training disciples.3 When trainees meet, their time is divided roughly into thirds. They spend time focusing on each of these three areas.
1. LOOK BACK
Pastoral care. Trainees ask each other, “How are you doing?” and take time to minister to one another’s needs in prayer, biblical counseling and encouragement.
Informal worship. Trainees praise God in a culturally appropriate and reproducible way. It could be prayer or singing, with or without an instrument or mp3 player. Some groups read the Psalms out loud.
Accountability. Trainees share in mutual loving accountability about how they have been following Jesus (obeying the previous meeting’s Bible lesson) and being fishers of men (witnessing to and training others) since the last meeting.
Vision casting. Trainees are reminded what God has designed them to become and what he plans to do through them.
2. LOOK UP
Trainees receive enough biblical content to obey and pass on to others. After a series of six basic discipleship lessons, participants learn how to do inductive Bible study by asking the following questions: What does it say? What can I obey? What will I share with others?
3. LOOK FORWARD
Practice. Trainees spend time practicing what they have learned, gaining confidence and competence to pass it on to others.
Goals and prayer. Trainees set goals for how to obey the lesson and to take the next steps in witnessing and training others; then they recommission each other through prayer.
See Steve Smith with Ying Kai, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution (Monument, Colo.: WIGTake Resources, 2011); and Steve Smith, “Discipleship Revolution: Training for Trainers Process,” Mission Frontiers 33, no. 1 (January-February 2011): 11-13.
Smith, T4T, pp. 46-47.
Adapted from Smith, T4T. Used by permission.
From The May 2013 article in Mission Frontiers Ying Kai and the Power of Multiplication