The Napkin Test


We are called to make disciples that make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Timothy 2:2).

One key ingredient to reproducing disciples is simplicity. The simpler a strategy is the easier it is for someone who is not incredibly skilled to take that strategy and run with it.

I’d like to propose the following test to determine how simple (and therefore, reproducible) your ministry is:

  1. Go to your favorite bar (or restaurant if you don’t drink).
  2. Sit down with a friend who has never heard about what you’re doing.
  3. Make notes for your friend on the back of a napkin.

Now, if your friend can take your notes on the back of that napkin and with the help of the Holy Spirit, do what you do, congratulations! You have a simple enough ministry to reproduce.

If you can’t write out everything your friend will need on that napkin, go back and simplify things. You might be making followers of Jesus, but they may not be able to pass on the complicated strategy that you have. This is why you don’t see seminaries popping up all over the place or Christian Television Stations multiplying. They’re too complicated.

Simple is reproducible. Reproducible spreads. If you want to see the Gospel spread, make sure you can explain how on the back of a napkin.

Photo Credit: Our directions to ZMS, written on a napkin. One of the main driections is to make a sharp left at the second cattle guard. This makes me feel like Dorothy. NOT in (my) Kansas anymore. by Maya West


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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

4 responses to “The Napkin Test”

  1. gunnarlarmstrong says :

    Here is my Napkin Test. Hopefully this is something that reflects the Scriptural pattern. This presupposes that you, yourself, are committed to a life of loving others, prayer, Bible-reading, worship, and laying down your life for others.

    1. Love them with all your heart and life.
    2. Lead them to Jesus.
    3. Love them with all your heart and life and encourage them to seek Jesus with you.
    4. Tell them to do the same thing.


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