Leadership and Apprenticing, part 4

In my last three posts, I’ve given you the positives of apprenticing.  Here’s part one on an example and encouragement to find an apprentice, and part two and part three giving you reasons I think it is a viable option of raising up leaders.  In this post, though, I’m going to give you my observations on why it is inefficient if used as your sole method of recruiting leaders.

As I said earlier, apprenticeship is not the only method we use here at Grace Community Church.  We use a hybrid method, encouraging apprenticeship but also being willing to put somebody into a leadership position who has not yet been apprenticed at Grace.  The reason we do that is that apprenticeship has its limitations.

Limitations of Apprenticeship:

1. It doesn’t always happen.  As much as you vision cast and “require” leaders to find an apprentice, not all group leaders buy into the idea.  They see it as yet another responsibility placed onto their all-too-full plates.

2. It doesn’t always happen as you would like for it to.  Some leaders buy into the idea initially, but aren’t able to fully develop their apprentice.  For a number of valid reasons, apprentices aren’t being produced.

3. It is a slow process.  Apprenticing takes a long time, and if you’re in an organization that is growing, you will find yourself in a leadership deficit really quickly.  How do you even measure when apprenticing is complete?

4. Not all groups have future leaders in them.  In our small groups, not every group has an apprentice, because quite frankly, not all groups have somebody with leadership potential.  That’s not a slam against anybody.  Everybody is not called to lead a small group.  There are some people who are leaders and others who are followers.  Sometimes, groups are full of followers.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I paint myself into a corner if I require all groups to have an apprentice.  When I do that, group leaders are investing lots of time into developing leaders out of folks who are not called to be leaders.  That’s frustrating for all involved.

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I’m sure there are more reasons why apprenticing alone is an inefficient way of recruiting leaders.  However, whatever system you are using, you must be recruiting leaders.  It is absolutely essential to sustained growth.  Whether you are a pastor, the CEO of a major corporation, a store manager, or a small group leader, your organization will suffer if you are not intentionally raising up leaders.

You can take that to the bank.

And if you do, be sure to find out how they’re raising up good leaders.

 

Leadership and Apprenticing, part 3

This is the third part in a series on one specific model of recruiting leaders.  You can read parts one and two if you’d like.  These are my concluding thoughts on the value of using apprentices to grow leaders in your organization or ministry.

Advantages of using apprentices to grow your organization (#6-#12):

6. They have seen leadership in action. In my role, as small groups director, this is huge.  I love when a group leader has an apprentice, because that apprentice has seen their group leader navigate difficult situations and lead people effectively.

7. They are insiders. They’ve been a part of the organization for some time now, and the company’s DNA has become their own.

8. Others in the organization don’t wonder, “Where did this guy come from?” They have seen the apprentice in the halls on Sunday, or in the office throughout the week, and they’ve built a relationship with the person, whether that’s a surface-level or deeper.  There’s a credibility and trust that has been built.  Credibility and trust aren’t built overnight.

9. They have been preparing themselves for the specific role. They knew that this move was coming.  They knew that, at some point, they would be asked to lead.  They’ve been praying about it, reading books on it, talking with other leaders who are doing what they will be doing, etc.

10. They have influence within their sphere. They aren’t somebody who has no relationships.  They’ve been working to develop relationships.  When they’re asked to take the lead, there are people who will immediately follow them.

11. It’s not a risky way to find leaders. Leadership develops over time, not overnight.  The apprentice has been developing over the course of months, or even years.  If at some point you need them to lead, it’s easy to evaluate whether they’re ready or not by talking with their leader, who has been evaluating them over the course of their apprenticeship.  If they’re not ready, just give them some more time to develop.  No harm, no foul.  You can avoid placing them in a leadership position that they aren’t ready for, which is a definite “win”.

12.  You can put them in the exact position that fits their gifts. You have observed their leadership potential, have gotten to know them, and can help evaluate strenghts, weaknesses, and areas of interest.

In the end, apprenticeship sets up future leaders for success, equipping them for the leadership role to which God is calling them.

However, apprenticing has its downsides and challenges.  Check back for my thoughts on the disadvantages.

 

Leadership and Apprenticing, Part 2

Wikipedia defines apprenticeship as “a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill.  Apprentices (or in early modern usage “prentices”) or proteges build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done on the job while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade, in exchange for their continuing labor for an agreed period after they become skilled.”

In part one of this series, I made a plea for apprenticing, gave an idea on how to do it, and encouraged you to both find someone who will apprentice you and find someone to apprentice.  In this post, I’m going to give you some advantages of using the apprentice method of recruiting leaders.  I tend to think of leadership through the grid of church ministry, and specifically small group ministry, but have tried to keep things broad enough so that if you’re not directly involved in church leadership, you can find these principles and observations helpful.

Obviously, there are tons of different ways to locate and recruit leaders for your organization.  This is one of them.

5 Advantages of using apprentices to grow your organization:

1. They already buy into the vision. If they’ve apprenticed for a time in the ministry, then they know the vision and have bought into where the ministry is headed.  This helps give your ministry synergy to take leaps forward.

2. They know how the organization should work. They’ve sat in leadership meetings, led some themselves, been a part of training events, and seen the organization in action.  This gives them a great advantage over outsiders coming into the organization seeking leadership.

3. Somebody else believes in them. The person who has been apprenticing them is a person who believes in the apprentice’s abilities, character, and leadership potential.  They will be a huge advocate for the apprentice, and likely already have been.

4. They have an insider who will continue to invest in them. Their leader, who asked them to apprentice, will not completely abandon their relationship with this new leader.  They have been developing the relationship over the course of their apprenticeship, and will (hopefully) continue investing in this person.  If you hire (or recruit) from outside of the organization, those support relationships have to be developed.

5. They’ve already been given the chance to lead. The apprentice isn’t taking a huge step when he or she becomes a full-fledged leader.  It doesn’t seem, to them, that they’re making a leap, but rather stepping into a role that feels more natural to them.

I’ve got a few more reasons.  Check back soon for the next post.

What’s your primary method for recruiting leaders?  Do you encourage apprenticeship?

 

Forward-thinking ministry

How do you train up the next generation? Is that something that you even think about in life and ministry? As I’m thinking about the work that I’ve done throughout graduate school, now heading into my second year at Grace Community Church, and now entering fatherhood, I really want to make sure that what I’m learning and have learned does not die with me. I’m challenged by Judges 2:6-10. At this time in Israel’s history, they had seen the “great work that the Lord had done for Israel” (2:7) and had entered the Promised Land (Canaan). “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua.” (2:7)

But Joshua died. And the people buried him.

“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (2:10)

An entire generation forgot the work of the Lord. If we neglect our duty of telling the great story of God’s redemption to our children and to those we are working to raise up as leaders and followers of Christ, we will repeat the story of the Israelites. That bothers me! So here’s a few principles that will guide me as I work to raise up apprentices in 2009.

1. I will be intentional. If I never tell someone that I think they’d be a great leader, and intentionally work to develop them as a leader, it won’t happen. Apprenticeship does not happen naturally. You have to work at it. I will have to intentionally invest in others for the express purpose of building them up as a leader.
2. I will take risks. I will not just look for the most ‘mature’ people to step into leadership. If that’s the model that Jesus used, he probably would not have chosen any of the disciples. Rather, Jesus chose people who had a lot of growing to do. I will take risks on those who are not finished growing yet, but who are pursuing Jesus with all they’ve got.
3. I will give leadership opportunities. Some people need to be pushed out of the boat. They need to be given the opportunity to lead, with the real possibility of failure, but in the context of being shepherded. In other words, I will present leadership opportunities to those who I am shepherding, and actually follow up with them to see how it went. What went well? What tanked? How did you prepare for the opportunity? What will you do differently next time? If they’re never given the opportunity to lead, they won’t develop into a leader.
4. I will encourage apprentices where I see them leading well. Encouraging someone presupposes that I listen to them, ask hard questions, and look for the ways that the Lord is working in their life and ministry. “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13) Encouragement works to fight against sin and burnout in leadership.
5. I will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). I already know that this will be tough. Have you ever tried telling someone that what they did or said was wrong? How about doing that not out of a sense of entitlement, or from a stance of pride, but from a heart of love? That’s radical. And the crazy thing is that, when it’s truth in love, God uses it to work for their good.

That’s my plan for pouring into the next generation. What’s yours?