A few weeks ago we discovered some exciting yet humbling news: The Bridge had been named by Outreach Magazine as the 5th fastest growing church in the entire country. The fact is, there are 1000 people at our church today than were with us 1 year ago today. Each of them needs to connect in a spiritual family (a group) where they can find freedom and take next steps. As more and more new people call the Bridge their home, the number of groups we offer must also increase. However the number of groups will only increase if the number of leaders increases. That’s why developing an apprentice leader is so important. Though it sounds daunting, it may not be as difficult as you think. Here are the 5 steps to developing an apprentice:
Some of my closest friends have adopted a son from Ethiopia. Though their boy is not biologically theirs, the similarities in their mannerisms is staggering. It’s most evident in his voice. His tone, inflections, and accent are all exactly like his mom. He has reproduced what he has observed. Developing your apprentice is no different. He will reproduce what he sees you do.
You want your apprentice to not only do what you do. You want him to think the way you think. One of the best ways to do this is to talk with him about what you are doing, why you are doing it, how it’s going, and what you’re trying to improve.
Raising up an apprentice is a lot like boiling a frog. If you throw him in boiling water, he’ll jump out. So, you gradually turn the heat up. Start simple by asking your apprentice leader to lead the ice breaker, your prayer time, or a specific question from the leader guide you think he’d be most comfortable with. After your meeting, get together and ask him 2 questions, 1) What went well? And 2) what, if changed would make the biggest difference in how it went? Be prepared to give him your honest feedback as well.
As your apprentice shows he’s ready, invite them to play an increased role in leading the group. You might give him the chance to run the entire group meeting instead of just one part. Present him with the opportunity to direct the group through a key discussion or transition, such as the entire Transform section of the leader guide, casting vision for a service project you do together, or discussing next steps toward group multiplication. Involve him in major decisions or conflict resolution, as appropriate.
Every group leader at The Bridge is required to watch the Bridge Leader 101 training videos located at bridge.tv/groupleader. Encourage your apprentice to watch them. Then meet with them and your coach to debrief.
The final phase of the apprenticeship process is multiplication. However, successful multiplication requires some advanced planning and intentionality. It’s particularly significant for your apprentices because that’s the time when the idea of leading their next group begins to solidify in their minds. Since planning for multiplication means planning for two or more future groups, your apprentices will need to be on board and intimately involved with that planning. More on that in a later article.
If you need help, feel free to reach out to your coach or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.