One problem in any organization or church is finding good leaders. Should you take a risk on a young person with unproven talent? Should you hire the older guy who’s a proven leader but set in his ways? Do you recruit somebody from within, or go outside the organization? Do you put somebody into a leadership position who needs training, or who can hit the ground running? Male? Female? Somebody just like you, or somebody who is nothing like you?
One method of raising up leaders is the apprenticing method, and I happen to be a big proponent of finding and training leaders this way. I know that it comes with its set of problems, the main problem being that it takes time to produce leaders. The number of leaders needed in your ministry will (hopefully) increase (assuming your church is growing numerically), and if your only method of recruiting leaders is by requiring existing leaders to apprentice somebody in their group, you will find your ministry in a leadership deficit. So, at GCC, we have a hybrid method. I strongly encourage apprenticing, but am also aware that we will be desperately hurting for leaders if we only get leaders who have apprenticed for 6-18 months. So, I have my cake and eat it, too. Apprenticing is the best way, I believe, but I’m willing to place others into leadership position that haven’t yet apprenticed.
If you have an apprentice, whether you’re involved in a small groups ministry or in any kind of leadership, let me encourage you with one thing: take them with you when you go places. Ask them to tag along when you go to conferences or to meetings. Share with them what you’re reading, how you’re growing, and what you’re learning. Let them see what you do and how you do it. Be available to answer questions, whether they’re professional or “life” questions. Give them a snapshot of your leadership on a regular basis.
Isn’t that what Jesus did with his disciples? His disciples traveled with him, asked him questions, and did ministry together with him. He even gave them authority! (Try doing that with an apprentice…I bet they’ll love it)
I had coffee with a leader and the apprentice from a small group here at GCC. It was definitely worth my cost of one more cup of coffee! I was able to help the leader evaluate his small group (what they’re doing well, where they need improvement, how they are continuing to grow, etc.), cast our vision of group life to the group leader, and thank him for what he’s doing…right there in front of the apprentice! It was amazing to see the leader and the apprentice interact, and to give them a taste of what group life would look like if everybody in the group would take significant steps in discipleship throughout the life of the group. I could have communicated only to the group leader, but meeting with the leader and the apprentice was more effective for everybody.
Do you have an apprentice? Are you apprenticing anybody?