Does your ministry look more like a drainpipe than a pipeline for making disciples?
In a world like today, where more and more people are growing up outside the influence on a church, this could be the most important question you will ever ask if you’re a pastor. So what kind of ministry is a drainpipe and what kind is a pipeline?
A drainpipe ministry is one that keeps the laity running around like chickens with their heads cut off going to one meeting after another where nothing ever gets accomplished. All this kind of ministry does is drain the spiritual life out of a person. As a result they:
- Never invite their neighbors to join them in worship;
- Never leave a meeting revved up to the point they can’t wait to tell someone about their church;
- Always look forward to the day they can hand over their position to some other unsuspecting newbie;
- Never reach any form of spiritual maturity where they are willing to sacrifice on behalf of others;
- Mostly give out of duty.
I remember the day we decided to drop all out committees and go to one team that did everything. We did this because when we asked people to lead a small group that would say they were too busy doing some form of committee work. But when asked if they enjoyed serving on a committee they would universally say, “No.” And when asked if they would enjoy leading a small group is they weren’t on any committee they resoundingly replied, “Yes.” So we drop all committees totaling some three hundred and sixty people, and the church grew exponentially the next four years.
It wasn’t long after that change the one of our few elder women came to me and asked, “Pastor, if we don’t have committees, how are we going to know who is faithful and who isn’t?” Her question just confirmed what I’ve said about a Discipleship Drainpipe.
A pipeline is an instrument that carries something from one place to another. And that is exactly what a discipleship pipeline does. It takes a person from being unchurched, a “none” or “done,” and carries them along so that they become a sold out disciple maker. As a result of a discipleship pipeline, people are:
- So excited they can’t help but tell others about the joy and fulfillment they receive in their worship;
- Reluctant to give up whatever ministry they are involved in because it brings them such satisfaction;
- So mature that they are often willing to move to anther city to help plant a church;
- Great financial givers because they give out of appreciation for what God has done in their life and in the hope of furthering the Kingdom;
- Able to mentor an unchurched person to point of baptism;
- Responsible for their brothers and sisters rather than expecting the pastor to do it for them.
The one thing I’ve learned about a pipeline for discipleship is that it takes three three things to be effective:
- Minimal Training,
- One-on-one Mentoring, and
- Missional Small Groups.