By Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird
A simple tool for apprenticing followers of Christ who can apprentice others.
I wonder if out of reverence for Jesus being divine, we sometimes dismiss his disciple-making practices and think, Well, that’s because it’s Jesus; he’s God. Of course he’s the best people-developer in the universe. So we admire how he mentored others who went out and changed the world, but we dismiss it as only possible for someone who is God incarnate. I’ve done that.
The apostle Paul didn’t make that mistake. He heard Jesus’ vision of God’s kingdom, how we can bring that to be, and he recruited a young apprentice named Timothy (Acts 16:1-3). I love that Paul picked Timothy, because Timothy was a guy who didn’t have a perfect life, and that makes him very relatable. Timothy’s dad was not around; either he was an absentee father or he had abandoned Timothy and his mom altogether. Scripture describes Timothy as timid (1 Cor. 16:10–11). He was very apprehensive about whether his life could make an impact.
But Paul grabs him and even writes to him how they’re going to change the world together: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2).
How many generations of apprenticeship do you see in that verse? Paul is saying, in effect, “Timothy, don’t be content with being a Christ follower; think about others, the rest of the world. I know you have a hard time thinking about impact, but I want you to think exponential impact! Let’s live our lives so as to impact at least four generations.”
- First-generation apprenticeship: Jesus to Paul
- Second-generation apprenticeship: Paul to Timothy
- Third-generation apprenticeship: Timothy to “reliable people”
- Fourth-generation apprenticeship: “reliable people” to “others”
This verse calls us to mentor disciple multipliers to the fourth generation. That’s exponential impact!
Paul was explaining to Timothy (and to us) that if we want to see disciples made in all nations—a movement of kingdom multiplication—it will happen through apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is the core competency of any movement of God.
What Paul discovered is the difference between impact and exponential impact. If we are Spirit led and committed to the mission, our lives can have an impact. But when we add the reproducing piece and even multiplying through apprenticeship, that is when exponential impact is possible. That’s when we begin to see a movement of hero makers.
*This article will continue in the next post.