Four Benefits of a Disciple-Making Pipeline

Let’s face it; you don’t have to have a disciple-making pipeline to make disciples.  I would say that very few churches have an intentional pipeline.  At the same time, there may be some benefits that you might want to consider when it comes to a disciple-making pipeline.

Let’s start by looking at what is a disciple-making pipeline? A disciple-making pipeline is a structure for identifying and moving disciples from one level of development to the next. Our goal in developing and implementing a disciple-making pipeline is more and better disciples.  We encourage churches to develop their unique disciple-making pipeline. The table below represents a generic disciple-making pipeline for beginning our conversation and for the development of your own disciple-making pipeline.

The benefits of an intentional disciple-making pipeline are numerous.  Here are a few:

1. It depicts a clear pathway for growth.  I can remember being a brand follower of Christ, thinking I want to be a good citizen.  I had no clue what it meant to be a disciple or that as a disciple, I needed to grow.  Imagine having a clear pathway with clearly delineated measures or competencies at each level of discipleship.  Regardless of how you program around a pipeline, just having one would benefit any church serious about making disciples.

2. It allows you as a church to evaluate your disciple-making effectiveness.  Once you develop your own disciple-making pipeline based on your disciple-making dream,  you have a built-in tool for assessing your effectiveness.  For example, if you don’t have any pre-disciples, it is a good indication that something is off about your overall disciple-making culture.  The same could be true of any level of your pipeline where you may have a deficiency.  A healthy disciple-making culture will have disciples at every level of the pipeline.

3. It integrates both evangelism and disciple-making.  A common mistake that churches make is separating evangelism and disciple-making, but for Jesus evangelism was always a critical part of His disciple-making.   His disciple-making always began with pre-disciples.  Creating a disciple-making pipeline should always begin with pre-disciples.

4. It encourages the disciple-maker to focus on his/her area of greatest strength.  We all have different passions and giftedness.  I may have a passion for working with pre-disciples, while you may be gifted at working with multiplying disciples. Having a disciple-making pipeline gives us multiple areas and places to plug into the disciple-making process as a disciple-maker.


To learn more about a disciplemaking pipeline, connect with an Auxano Navigator.

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David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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