Follow Me As I Follow Christ

Derrick McNeil - Senior Pastor | Nations United Church, Cypress, TX

Just as Jesus modeled for Peter, James, and John by drawing them close, inviting to his inner circle, Paul replicated with his invitation to Timothy. Similarly, we too must model for those we have apprentice in our small groups. As a disciple maker I want my apprentice to reproduce what he sees me do. So, it is extremely important that I am intentional with my invitation and modeling the fundamentals of disciple making in those relational environments. That starts by following the biblical model we find in the Scriptures. I am inviting those I disciple to a deeper relationship. There are fundamental ways to invite in and model a healthy relational environment for an apprentice.

Three fundamentals to inviting an apprentice to be your disciple:

  1. First, communicate a clear vision for what the role of an apprentice is. I call it defining the relationship. I want my apprentice to know what I’m asking him to do. For me, I found it best to communicate and give vision to the role over a cup of coffee or hanging out on my back patio. In this conversation we talk through expectations and time commitments. I share my heart to see him go and make his own disciples and that one day he will have his own group. My apprentice should know I want to help him grow spiritually, maturing in faith and to equip him to facilitate a group of his own. When the relationship is defined clearly there should be less anxiety and stress associated when the day comes to branch the group.
  2. Second, model what you want an apprentice to reproduce. As a mature disciple maker, I want to reproduce other disciples who make disciples relationally as Christ and the early church did. I want my apprentice to know I value our relationship on a personal level. Much of my time is spent building relationship outside the small group. I share my life with my apprentice. We celebrate wins and we walk through life’s challenges together. I want my apprentice to experience authentic relationship, so he knows how to reproduce it in others as he leads. I also believe in sharing ministry experiences with my apprentice. For example, I invite them to go with me when I visit someone in the hospital. I involve them in planning and executing service projects for those less fortunate in our community. I model for them the kind of relationship it takes to produce a disciple of Jesus.
  3. Third, getting them in the game. Disciple making does not stop at modeling in relationship. I give the apprentice opportunities to do the work. For us to become something we must have opportunity to do something. I give them opportunities to facilitate our small group and spend time debriefing what I observed. I share the shepherding responsibilities of our group. We connect with our group members weekly. I want my apprentice to take on the role of disciple maker as they have learned from me, as I follow Christ. When my apprentice branches, it is my heart’s desire he will love, live, and lead like Jesus!


Derrick McNeil
Senior Pastor
Nations United Church
Cypress, TX