Identifying, Equipping, and Releasing an Apprentice

Brandon Werner - Lead Pastor | Together Church, Oklahoma City, OK

You could hear a pin drop as a somber spirit fell on the men in the group. With much transparency, I had just shared about my ten-year battle with an addiction to pornography. I talked about the problems that addiction had created in my life and in my marriage. Then, I shared how God used a real-life discipleship relationship to renew my understanding of the gospel and set me on a course to seven years of freedom.

After a moment of silence, other guys began to get transparent about their own struggles. One of those guys was Chad. Based on what Chad shared, I knew I needed to be intentional and get with him personally.

Within a couple days, Chad and I got together to talk over coffee. After catching up, I asked him questions about his life. I listened as Chad shared transparently with me about his personal struggles. Then, Chad asked me questions. When I shared with him, he was excited to learn and was very teachable. After prayer, I knew I wanted him to be my next apprentice for my small group. We got together again, and I recruited him to be my apprentice.

Chad had a lot of challenges when I recruited him to be my apprentice:

  • He was frustrated that he was not consistently winning over sin issues in his life
  • He did not have a faithful quiet time in the Word
  • He lacked some stability – he was engaged and was about to get married
  • He had never discipled anyone else
  • He was not already a member of our church
  • He had only been part of my group for a few months

There were some obvious challenges to overcome! Should I have been deterred by these things? Was Jesus deterred by such weaknesses when He first called His disciples?

In spite of his weaknesses, I saw that Chad had 2 key characteristics:

  • Teachable. When I shared new truth from God’s Word, he was willing to listen and change.
  • Transparent. When I asked him questions, he gave open and honest answers.

These qualities made Chad an excellent candidate for apprenticeship. Shortly after I recruited him, Chad accepted the role and became my apprentice.

Now, it was time to equip Chad to be a disciple-maker:

  • We met every week for personal discipleship. After several weeks of meeting one-to-one, we invited other guys from our group to our meeting and we worked together to disciple them.
  • We debriefed after small group meetings, and we made important decisions together.
  • We got together with our wives and had fun together.
  • We made a plan to spend time with God daily and we remained transparent with each other.
  • We served each other, and we served others together.
  • I recruited Chad to be our storyteller frequently. Then I asked him to facilitate a meeting. Before long, he was facilitating every week.

What was the outcome?

Our relationship became very meaningful to both of us. Chad and his fiancé, Dennah, asked me to officiate their wedding ceremony. Chad and I worked together to connect several people to our group. Chad and Dennah joined our church, and Chad took the role of running our media team. A few months after their wedding, Chad and Dennah started their own group. Chad now has an apprentice of his own. Their group has doubled in size and is about to branch. Chad and I are still great friends and get together often. Chad is a disciple-maker.

Now what?

After Chad, I repeated this process with Justin. Now, I am doing this with Caleb. Together, these men are creating a culture of love and disciple-making at Together Church. Discipleship is a team sport, and teams need leadership. Leadership cannot be developed by accident. Intentionally recruiting a small group apprentice is how we go about identifying, equipping, and releasing disciples who make disciples. Go back and read this again. How can you become more intentional about this process?

Brandon Werner- Executive Pastor
Together Church
Oklahoma City, OK