If you are a farmer and you want to increase your yield, you can either work the land you have harder, you can expand your land, or you can start a new farm altogether. Jesus, in light of such a great harvest before us, calls us to do all three. We cultivate the soil we are in, we expand the gardens we tend and we start new farms.
That is why Jesus teaches us to ask that workers be sent. Make no mistake, Jesus wants each of us to give more of our lives to him (cultivation) and he does want more volunteers and servants in the current ministries (addition), but he teaches to pray that workers would be sent to start new fields with new potential (multiplication). These three graphics describe the difference between addition growth and multiplication growth.
The best way I understand this is to explain how the Pareto Principle, more widely known as the 20/80 rule works in church life. 20% does 80% of the work and the giving. We always think that it shouldn’t be that way and it should 100% even, yet, when a church grows its 20%, it ends growing its capacity to care and love and serve. As the 20% grows, the 80% grows proportionately. This is the way of addition.
Jesus teaches that we should pray that workers would be sent. When workers are sent, an entirely new 20% is set up without a corresponding 80%. As the 20% begin loving and serving and acting like the body of Christ, new people, who would never experience this before in a church now get to become the next 80%.