By Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird
*This is part two of the article published in the previous post.
A Simple Tool for Apprenticeship
If Paul’s goal of developing four generations of apprentices seems unreachable for you and your church, then I have good news for you. It is not. This goal is very doable if you and your church follow five simple steps.
Eric Metcalf is a disciple multiplier, and he has used the five steps of apprenticeship with other leaders as often as anyone I know. Eric doesn’t shy away from a good challenge. The latest small group he led regularly drew 16 people, and it was a challenge. Some were solid Christ followers; most were not. Some were single, some living together, and some married. Some partied really hard! And some were new believers, including one person with a Muslim background, another with a Jewish background (and a Catholic girlfriend), and another with practically no religious background at all.
You might imagine the lively discussions and lifestyle issues represented in those gathering and conclude, “I think a pastor needs to lead a group like that!” Eric is the pastor for one of Community Christian Church’s locations on the north side of Chicago. He and his wife, Erin, especially enjoy that group, but Eric knew he had a bigger calling than leading this diverse group alone. From day one, he was praying about which member (or members) he could train as an apprentice to take over this group or lead a new group.
“Hey, I have this idea, and I want to run it past you,” Eric told the group. Then he continued, “For our group to reach more people, I’m going to ask some of you to consider moving into an apprentice leadership role and meeting with me on a weekly basis. We can meet for coffee or whatever, but during that time I will help you get to the place where you are confident and capable of leading a group.” Grace, one of the Christ followers, said to Eric, “I really see a need to take some of the women in the group deeper into accountability with each other. I think I can help them do that, if you would let me lead them.” Eric loved the idea, and she became his first apprentice.
Eric used the same simple five-step apprenticeship tool with Grace that he had used with dozens of other leaders over the years to help them grow in their leadership. Over the next eight months, Eric and Grace used these five steps as a guide to develop her to the place where she was leading her own group. Here’s how it might have unfolded:
- I do. You watch. We talk. As the experienced leader, Eric leads the group and tells Grace, “You just observe everything that happens in our small group, and then we will find a time to meet and discuss what you observed.” Before the next small group meeting, Eric and Grace debrief, and this includes asking the following questions: “What worked?” “What didn’t work?” and “How can we improve?” This time for debriefing needs to continue throughout the five steps.
- I do. You help. We talk. In this step of development, Eric gives his apprentice, Grace, an opportunity to help lead part of the small group meeting. In this case, Eric asked Grace, “Could you lead the icebreaker time at the beginning if I lead the rest?” Grace agreed. Again, the small group meeting should be followed up with a one-on-one debrief between leader and apprentice.
- You do. I help. We talk. Now Grace transitions from helping Eric to taking on most of the leadership responsibilities for the small group. Since Eric has had an exceptionally busy week, he takes the opportunity to ask Grace, “Could you lead most of the meeting this week? If you do, I will handle the icebreaker at the beginning and the prayer time at the end, plus I will be there with you the whole time.” Grace agrees, and since she has seen him lead the group enough times, she feels very comfortable and does great. Eric is gradually releasing responsibilities to his new, developing leader.
- You do. I watch. We talk. The apprentice process for Grace is almost complete as she grows increasingly more confident in her role as a leader. Eric has her lead the entire meeting each week while he watches her, and he gives her the responsibility of finding a service project for the group. At their debrief time, Eric says, “I think you are ready for leadership; do you think you are ready?” With a smile, Grace says, “I think I’m ready.” With both leader and apprentice feeling ready for the next step, they begin to plan whether Grace will take over the group or lead a new group, and what Eric will lead next.
- You do. Someone else watches. This is where the process of multiplication comes full circle. Eric says, “Grace, you have done great! Have you started to think about who you can mentor and repeat this process with?” Grace says, “I already have two people who have expressed interest, and I’m meeting with one this week.” Grace, the former apprentice, is now leading, and she begins developing new apprentices. Since Eric has developed and released several apprentices, he continues to work with Grace and other leaders in a coaching capacity.
The five steps to apprenticeship are really that simple! If you will constantly use these five steps, you can develop other leaders who will already know how to develop other leaders.
A World of Disciple Multipliers in One Generation
In a commencement speech, Admiral William McRaven provoked graduates from the University of Texas with this exhortation: “If every one of you changed the lives of just 10 people, and each one of those folks changed the lives of another 10 people—just 10—then in six generations this class will have changed the lives of the entire population of the world, eight billion people.”
The admiral’s words are a great challenge, not only for college graduates but for me, you, and the church! To change the world, we need to not only change people but also mobilize those people as change agents. Since the church is far bigger than that graduating class, we’ve already got a running start. We also have the Holy Spirit in us, and the God of the universe wants it to happen. We can do it!
This article was originally published at: Christianity Today
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