What Is an Apprentice?


Last week, I wrote about why it's important for leaders to apprentice others and the qualities to look for in an apprentice, but let's back up a bit and answer a more fundamental question.

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is someone who works with a leader in order to learn how to lead. In the context of Community Groups, apprenticing involves people in ministry for the purpose of training them to take your place. It's a way of developing new leaders so that we can create more space for others to join life-changing community.

Because an apprentice is a leader-in-training, to understand what an apprentice is you need to understand what a leader is . . . and is not.

A group leader is not a scholar or expert. Some group leaders have strong backgrounds in biblical knowledge or ministry experience. Some don't. Strong biblical knowledge and ministry experience is not a requirement for group leadership. Knowledge and experience are great as long as they're coupled with humility and grace. Leaders who have the most knowledge or experience have to be careful not to play the role of scholar or expert because know-it-all leaders can actually hamper the group's growth.

A group leader is not a teacher or a counselor. Some people pursue group leadership because they enjoy teaching others. They think Community Group will provide an outlet for using that gift. But groups aren't teacher-driven environments. They're a place where a facilitator encourages all members to participate in discussion. Gifted teachers often find that, for the good of the group, they have to put aside their God-given desire to teach others.

A group leader is a shepherd. The best group leaders understand where the group is supposed to go. They guide and care for the group members. They monitor and protect the health of the group.

A group leader is an investor in people. Groups are about doing life together. A good group leader is intentional about building relationships and creating environments where group members experience healthy relationships and spiritual growth.

Given what a group leader is and isn't . . .

  • An apprentice is not someone who has it all together.
  • An apprentice is not merely an assistant to the group leader.
  • An apprentice is someone who has caught the vision of what groups are all about.
  • An apprentice is a shepherd-in-training.