To love requires time. To disciple is to love, therefore disciple making necessitates time. To make a disciple is to say, “I will spend time with you.” When Jesus said, “follow me” to each of his disciples, he was saying to him, “I want to spend extended time with you.” He who is too busy cannot love and therefore cannot make disciples.
Jesus chose to spend three years with his small band because he was not only going to instruct them about love but he was also going to cultivate the group so that they could experience what it is like to be part of a group that loves one another. (Notice that others came to Jesus asking to be his disciple but he kept the number at twelve.)
Here in Chicago we pace our growth based on how many people we can disciple and on how many people we can love. We are surrounded by millions of people and tremendous need so we must be extra careful not to “swamp” our canoe. At the moment that a group has more people to disciple than there are disciplers they become “swamped.” The same is true with love, when there are more people to love than our group can love effectively; once again we have allowed the boat to be “swamped”. Once the group is “swamped” with too many people I am convinced that there is no effective way to “unswamp” the canoe.