Our History

The Disciple.Tools Story

In 2013, a field team in North Africa, working collaboratively with a coalition of various organizations and nationalities, began to develop a CRM (customer relationship manager) in a proprietary software gifted to them through their organization. That software was extremely modular and allowed them to develop a system that served most of the needs of their nationwide media-to-movement initiative without much need for technical development.

However, other field teams, disciple makers, and organizations saw the system they built and wanted to use it for their disciple making movement efforts as well. The proprietary nature of the software they were using prevented them from giving the tool away to others. Additionally, the coalition that the team served began to outgrow the collaborative nature of the tool as they stored thousands of records while partnering with over a hundred disciple makers. Security became a significant issue.

The team saw the need for a software specifically designed for disciple and church multiplication movements that any field team could use. The idea for Disciple.Tools was born.

Our History

When we began to build a field-based software solution for disciple and church multiplication movements we looked to see what CRM solutions already existed in the marketplace. We knew if the tool was going to meet the unique needs of field teams all over the world it needed to be:

  • Affordable – able to scale and include large teams of collaborators without prohibition of cost.
  • Customizable – one size fits no one. We wanted a Kingdom solution that could be modified to fit individual ministry needs.
  • Sustainable development – sometimes teams have unique needs that require a programmer. Enterprise software programmers can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. WordPress developers can be found at far cheaper rates.
  • Decentralized – tracking data can put lives at risk. We wanted to mitigate risk by avoiding a centralized solution where any one entity has access to everyone’s data.
  • Multi-lingual – multiplying disciples and churches among all people groups will not happen by one ethnic or language group. It will be a joint effort of the global body of Christ. We wanted a tool that could serve any believer from any language/nationality.

We surveyed 147 CRMs hoping a suitable solution already existed. We had two key criteria:

1 – Can this system be deployed at minimal cost?

  1. Could infrastructure costs not rise as the movement multiplies?
  2. Could one system serve 5000 people for under $100 a month?
  3. Could we give away systems to other field teams and ministries freely without requiring us to increase our size and funding?
  4. Could the development be decentralized, so the costs of expansion are shared among many?
  5. Could the smallest team of two people afford this?

2 – Can this system be launched and run by low tech people?

  1. Can it be ready for disciple making right out of the box and not require large amounts of configuration?
  2. Can it be run independently, decentralized, but without special knowledge about servers, scripting, etc?
  3. Can it be launched fast in a couple of steps?

Ultimately, our question was, could a field team or house church of national believers deploy and sustain the solution by themselves (independent of us or any other organization)?

We surveyed 147 CRMs in the marketplace.

Most commercial solutions were disqualified on cost. A small team might be able to afford $30 per person per month (the average cost for commercial CRMs), but how would a coalition of 100 people pay $3000 a month? What about 1000 people? Growth would strangle these solutions. Even discounted rates through 501c3 programs were vulnerable to revocation or inaccessible to nationals.

The few remaining open source CRMs in the marketplace, would require an enormous amount of reconfiguration and customization to be useful for disciple making. It was definitely not something a small disciple making team could do without special skills. 

So as we looked at potential, widely available platforms to make a custom CRM for disciple making, we landed on WordPress, arguably the world’s most successful and widely adopted, open source project for the average person. One-third of internet sites run on WordPress. It’s in every country and its usage is only growing. 

So we started.