Church MultiplicationDiscipleship

Healthy Churches Produce Disciple Makers

I have to admit that I like watching test cricket on television, but when it comes to the shorter version of the game, there is nothing like the live stadium experience. The atmosphere during these matches is amazing. What strikes me about Cricket is the continual introduction of new highly trained and talented players. This of course doesn’t happen without a well- developed system that prepares players to advance to the highest levels. In Australia, we have the Australian Cricket Pathway which introduces non-players to the game and then systematically takes them along the pathway.

I’ve often asked myself what would happen if the local church took the challenge of developing people as seriously as Australian Cricket takes the challenge of developing home-grown talent. The impact for the Kingdom would be overwhelming. Of course some networks and churches are doing a good job of this already but this is an area that I believe we can improve on if we focus on the mandate to “make disciples of all the nations”, as Jesus intended.

In Matthew 9:37‑38, Jesus tells us the key to seeing a great harvest of people is to pray for more workers. The more prayer, the more workers and the more workers, the greater the harvest. It’s a simple equation.

To shed more light on this equation, it’s important to go back in time to when Jesus first uttered these words to His disciples. He actually said this to them on two different occasions, repeating Himself to them and to us for emphasis (Matt. 9:37-38; Luke 10:2).  Many church leaders have used these words to challenge believers to get out of the pews and into the fields. However, when these words were spoken, there were only Jesus and His few disciples facing the entire world population. My question is simple; where did they expect the answer to these prayers to come from? When they heard Jesus tell them to ask the Lord for more workers, in their mind, what would be the source of these workers? The workers for the harvest must come from the harvest. There can be no other intent in the mind of Jesus or His disciples.

Each new convert is a worker…immediately.

Starting in the harvest, an intentional development pathway introduces an individual to Jesus and then takes them on a journey of “becoming a disciple and then making disciples”. The disciple’s then move on to a place where they are meaningfully engaged in a specialised ministry, reflecting God’s unique gifting and calling on their lives. For many this will be worked out in the local church but for some, this will mean being a pastor, a church planter or a movement leader. This will close the circle of providing for a much more extensive harvest beyond the shadow of just one church. If we were to do what Jesus did and continue to use a farming analogy, then we would be:

This process is not merely a responsibility of the church, it is the church. Is a church really a church according to the New Testament if it is not producing disciple makers? The local church must stop farming out its most essential role to others and start becom­ing the multiplication movement God always intended it to be. Existing Church leaders must begin to see that every person involved in a local church is on a developmental pathway. They must ask themselves of every person they come into contact with, “What is the next important step for this person toward a fuller expression of their unique place in the Kingdom of God?” Then they must be prepared to ensure this person moves into the next phase of development.

Purpose of an Intentional Development Pathway (or what we call a Farm System): To generate a multiplication movement by mobilising organic development within local churches, resulting in spontaneous growth and multiplication.

Key Assumptions of a Development Pathway (Farm System):

  1. All healthy disciples, leaders and churches are intended to reproduce.
  2. Ready‑made disciples, disciple makers and leaders don’t fall from heaven, they are grown on earth.
  3. The best training model is hands‑on ministry involvement with a personal coach.
  4. Fruitful ministry flows from who you are as well as what you do.
  5. The Kingdom of God is much more than one church or one movement.
  6. Church multiplication is the best and most natural means of reaching the lost.

Core Values of a Development Pathway (Farm System):

  1. Proactive faith and prayer.
  2. Life transformation through the power of the gospel.
  3. Simple obedience to scripture.
  4. Simple and transferable strategy.
  5. Releasing momentum through spontaneous multiplication.

Colin is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has 30 years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors. He can be reached at


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