Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Apprenticeship

[Here are thoughts directly from the brain of Andy Stanley, through the filter of Jared Kirk for your reading pleasure.]

We use the language of apprenticeship at Next Level Church. We do this mostly because the word discipleship has lost all of its original connotations save learning facts. How else could people talk about a "discipleship program?" By its very nature discipleship is NOT programmatic learning. It is following someone around and doing what they do. The closest word for this in the English language? Discipleship.

Now, everyone agrees that this is a great thing. "Yes, let's bring along the next generation and show them how to do what we do. Then people will be developed and the church will be in great hands when our generation turns over the keys." So yes, everyone agrees that someone should be apprenticing (or discipling) newer believers, but no one seems to think that they are the ones who should be doing it.

It's like seeing a turtle cross the road. Everyone knows they should just get out and help the turtle, but most of us assume someone else will do it. After all, no one wants to A.) Get hit by a car or B.) see a turtle get hit by a car. So basically, when you see a turtle all you do is say "awww" and pray to patron saint of doomed turtles. Unless... your wife is in the car.

In the church world, this is the equivalent of a pastor enlisting you in his or her latest "leadership development" program. We act like we're going to help, because we know we should, but secretly we groan and pray to Jude who happens to be the patron saint of lost causes and ipso facto the patron saint of church leadership development programs. We know it is a good thing but we've got two great reasons not to actually apprentice anyone ourselves. I want to get those excuses, I mean reasons, out there and debunk them once and for all so that you can get on with the Great Commission... making disciples. So I'm going to engage in a little BUT removal.

Excuse #1
But I'm not an expert.

A. The truth is almost none of us are experts. I'm certainly not. So if you wait until you are an expert you will never do this. Partially because if you are a good leader you will constantly be growing and learning and will never feel as though you had arrived. If you wait until you feel ready it will never happen.
B. You are not responsible for knowing everything there is to know about your field or even knowing more than anyone else in your field. Who does? Most of us are figuring things out as we go.
C. What you are responsible for passing on whatever you do know to someone else. You are not responsible for filling their cup; you are responsible for emptying yours. As a Christian, God won't hold you accountable for what you didn't know. He will hold you accountable for what you did with what you know.

Excuse #2
But what will I do?

A. In a healthy organization if you replace yourself you will always have a place. And if you are in an unhealthy organization... Why would you stay? To bring this home for people at Next Level Church specifically, let me just say it: "If you replace yourself you will always have a place!"

The How To:
The easiest way to accomplish this is to never work alone. When you prepare a lesson, do it with someone. When you lead a group, do it with someone. When you counsel a group member, do it with someone. When you make the group schedule, do it with someone. When you submit new group information for a catalogue, do it with someone. And then after you have done it ask them this one question: "So, what did you learn?" That's it.

In conclusion allow me to redefine success for all of us, straight from the silky smooth brain of Andy Stanley: Success isn't how capable you are at handling responsibilities, success is leaving your responsibilities in capable hands.

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