Raising The Apprentice
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When it comes to the command to make and send disciples who love and live like Jesus, this scripture helps frame not only the mission, but also the methods to do so.
I was talking to a friend of mine, whom I was discipling, and he shared a portion of his real estate brokerage firm’s training material. He said they mentored new team members to adopt the practice of knowing the science and art of the real estate business. He spoke of the importance of being knowledgeable of the laws and statutes pertaining to the business itself (thescience). The firm also encouraged them to continuously refer back to the modules they studiedto pass all of the real estate exams needed to become a licensed realtor. Being well versed in the science would build confidence with their clientele and put them at ease in the home buying and selling process. However, they also cautioned that knowledge would only take them so far. They would also have to work on their interpersonal people skills (the art). They would have to be genuinely sensitive to the client’s wants and needs, likes and dislikes, family dynamic and other personal dispositions. Putting these two lenses together would increase the likelihood of a successful transaction and a happy client, which leads to repeat customers and numerous referrals.
As my friend talked, my mind kept thinking how important these principles related to finding and raising an apprentice. In small group relational environments, led by intentional leaders, two similar lenses should be worn when finding and raising an apprentice. I would call them the science and he(art) of apprenticeship. The disciple maker leading the group should be fully aware of the application of both. Group leaders (disciple makers) should provide environments where the focus is reproducing a disciple of Christ who is fully equipped with both the Science and he(art) of disciple making.
All too often, in my experience, I have seen many group leaders primarily focus on the science of group facilitation and to a lesser degree the heart of discipling an apprentice to spiritual maturity. There have been times I have asked group leaders if they had identified an apprentice.Usually, the first words out of their mouth was, “yes, we have been giving ‘blankity blank’ opportunities to facilitate the group. They do a great job leading through the guidelines and working through the discussion questions. I think they are almost ready to branch their own group.” When we only focus on facilitation skills (science) we miss the most important lens of apprenticeship, the he(art)!
It is your responsibility as disciple makers, to do as Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Corinthians 11:1 : “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”. Christ’s method for calling, changing, and releasing disciple makers should be the gold standard when choosing and raising apprentices.
When selecting an apprentice your main motivation and vision casting for them should be to follow Christ, be changed by Christ and then be on mission for Christ (Matthew 4:19). You should begin by looking for an apprentice who is Faithful, Available, and Teachable (FAT). Theyshould, through the invite, understand what the end goal of their apprenticeship is to produce. Group leaders should spend additional time outside of the group setting, abiding in God’s Word with their apprentice, holding each other accountable to live out what God is revealing about Himself, and developing the he(art) to disciple others using Christ’s methods.
In those moments outside of a group and in relationship with one another knowing and applying the SCMD process. The apprentice should be discipled to understand how to share the gospel, his life, new truths and new habits. They should understand how to connect people to God, community and purpose. They should also be equipped to minister, given opportunities to serve and be released to serve alone. Finally, as the relationship comes to spiritual maturity they should be able to internalize this process and be released to disciple others! This discipleship model will engage the heart of an apprentice and will help them move knowledge form the head into the heart and eventually manifesting through the hands in service and reproduction of spiritual maturity in others.
If you want to find and raise well rounded, discipleship minded apprentices, you must put on both lenses of the Science and He(art) of apprenticeship!
By Derrick McNeil, Small Groups & Men’s Pastor