PHILADELPHIA (BRN) – Two years of jumping online to do coursework after a long work day or squeezing in assignments between kids’ nap times all came to an end on May 5 for five graduates as they were celebrated at Delval East “The Lifehouse Church” in Willingboro, New Jersey, for completing the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Multiplication Pipeline. 

Those graduating from the Send Philadelphia Pipeline Leadership Training Cohort represented three different churches a part of the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey (BRN): Jalen Hudgins from The SOAR Church in Woodbine, New Jersey; A.J. Watts from First Baptist Church of Crestmont in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania; and Pierre Parks, Ben Akuma and Xavier Wright all from the hosting church, Delval East. 

Dr. Kyle Canty (far left), Send City Missionary, and Bishop Hal Hopkins (far right), NAMB Church Planting Catalyst, pictured with the five Pipeline graduates.
What is Pipeline 

This graduation signified that these men successfully completed NAMB’s Multiplication Pipeline, an online training program designed to help churches and pastors identify and develop leaders, as well as potential church planters, within their own context.  

In Philadelphia, Send City Missionary Dr. Kyle Canty and NAMB Church Planting Catalyst Bishop Hal Hopkins partnered with area churches and pastors to create a Pipeline Leadership Training Cohort.  

“One of the purposes around this Pipeline Leadership Development Cohort is not only to see if there are church planters that arise out of this, but also to better equip leaders within churches, within our association, within the convention…and so we’re committed to their pastors,” said Canty. 

The Philly cohort quickly gained traction as Dr. Tom Dawson, senior pastor at The SOAR Church, Dr. Chris Betner, senior pastor at Delval East, and Dr. Jerome Coleman, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Crestmont, sparked interest in some of the young men already serving in their churches. 

Over the course of two years, the cohort met monthly over Zoom with Canty and Hopkins facilitating. The students discussed assignments, what books they were reading, how they were applying the Pipeline content to their lives and ministry, and, most of all, how they could pray for one another and come alongside each other in life. 

I’m thankful to God for these men, because with a call like this if you have bad leadership it’s easy to get swayed and to do stuff prematurely,” said Wright.

Parks echoed this sentiment, saying, “When we first started, I actually was very overwhelmed and I thought that I was going to quit a few times…but I found that the more I surrendered to God the easier it became and the less overwhelmed I was.”

He continued: “Then we had Pastor Canty and Pastor Hal, they made it easy as well because getting on the Zoom calls and listening to these guys, how they would minister to us, and it was no beating you up when you didn’t get an assignment done on time or anything like that, they really minister[ed] to us and I know I grew a lot.” 

What’s Next 

For two of these recent Pipeline graduates, the journey will continue. Feeling a call towards church planting, Jalen Hudgins (SOAR) and A.J. Watts (Crestmont) will now enter a year-long church planting residency in the Greater Philadelphia region through the Send Network. 

The residency is designed to prepare young men who are a year or two away from going through the church planting assessment process through Send Network.  

“In the current residency now, we are meeting over 12 months, face to face – as well as face to face once a month – but they’re working on material that we provide them that really is designed to equip them to do church planting, to really focus on themselves [and] their individual growth,” said Canty. 

Along with teaching church planting essentials, the residency will build upon the leadership development skills gained through Pipeline, such as leading in the home as a husband and father, financial stewardship, community exegesis, running meetings, and how to develop leaders from within.  

I never thought that I would be a voice for God’s kingdom, but God already knew the plan and already mapped it out… God simply took his time to bring me here today and I am more than honored and I am more than grateful for it,” said Hudgins. 

Hudgins, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as a child, shared that his confidence in God’s plan and calling upon his life comes from previous life experiences of being misunderstood and unsure of his future.  

“I’ve actually gotten to be more confident in who God has called me to be,” said Hudgins. 

The current church planting residency occurring in the Philadelphia region started in January and will conclude in December. 

For the graduates who completed Pipeline but are not feeling a call towards church planting, the next steps will come within their local churches, serving as men equipped to preach, lead, start ministries and raise up the next generation of disciples. 

I never thought I would be a preacher, never thought that this was on my radar…but somewhere I read that before He formed me in my mother’s womb He knew me and He had plans and He set me apart, and so I know that, even though this wasn’t part of my plans, this was a part of God’s plans,” said A.J. Watts. 

Canty and Hopkins hope to start another Pipeline cohort soon in the Greater Philadelphia region. BRN churches and pastors interested in participating in the cohort, or interested in starting a cohort in their area, are encouraged to contact Dr. Canty via email at or by phone at 215-298-2912.  

Pastors are also encouraged to utilize Pipeline outside of a cohort as a one-on-one discipling tool. Those interested in learning more about Pipeline are also encouraged to learn more here or by visiting NAMB’S Multiplication Pipeline website.