Would you like to increase the impact of your ministry? Would you love to have your ‘touch’ live on beyond you? One of the most powerful efforts that I made in ministry was to create apprenticeship programs and to have others join the ministry in Christ’s service. These were opportunities where people who had an interest in working as staff for congregations could get a taste of what it was like and grow in his/her knowledge/understanding of how to do that work.
Here is what those apprenticeships looked like: (a) the person, along with me or their mentor, identified the area of interest for their focus (e.g. music, youth, pastoral care, small groups), (b) the person agreed to work a certain number of hours per week focusing on the apprenticeship (usually around 8-10 hours/week), (c) I agreed to provide weekly training sessions on ministry topics (e.g. Bible, Church History, Theology, Stewardship, Pastoral Care, Counseling, Ethics, Goal Setting & Evaluating, and more), (d) I met with them to devise goals and objectives for their time as well as to review progress as the weeks/months went along, (e) the initial period was typically for 6 months to 1 year, although I did do some summer internships of 3 months, and (f) the initial period could be renewed, which was done in 1 year increments. The apprenticeships program was approved by the congregational leadership and the apprentice was treated as a staff person. Most of these apprenticeships were unpaid but I also had some that included a salary (the summer internships are one example).
These efforts provided some wonderful opportunities both for the apprentices as well as for the congregations. I offered these in large congregations as well as in a congregation of about 100 in worship. Some of the learnings from these efforts include the following: (a) for the first year you (the mentor and church) will put in more time and energy than you ‘get back’. It is an investment in the future and will pay off in powerful ways! (b) somewhere toward the end of the first year the balance of investment/benefit begins to shift and a tangible positive difference is felt in the congregation (assuming that the apprenticeship is going well), (c) these individuals are passionate about the possibility of following God’s call and so would do more than what I often felt comfortable ‘asking for’, (d) prayer, Bible study and other spiritual disciplines are an important part of this process, (e) treating the apprentice as a staff member gives them credibility with the congregation. Don’t minimize them or treat them as 2nd class staff members because then the congregation will discount them. (f) there are more people than I would have ever imagined who have this interest and only need the opportunity and encouragement to try it. (g) apprenticeships expand the possibility of the kinds and depths of ministry a congregation can offer. We publicized the program several times throughout the year and talked about what was involved. Obviously having an apprentice was an ongoing advertisement for the program.
Now, you might say “but I don’t just have time.” That is true unless you decide to make the short term investment for a long term blessing. An apprenticeship program does require a change of priorities in how your time and focus is spent. However, if you do make the investment then after a few months you will see how having a second staff person covers more ministry than you ever could have done on your own.
Now, you might also say “but I don’t have all of the training material to give them or time to create it”. Then let me help! We offer a series of ministry training videos on 24 topics (Spiritual Disciplines, Communication Skills, Theology, Bible x 3, Goal Setting/Evaluating, Relationships, Ethics, Worship, Visitation & Pastoral Care, Church History, Conflict, Special Services (weddings, funerals, house blessing, etc.), Stewardship, Administration, Counseling, Preaching, Group Dynamics, Learning Styles and Issues, Connecting people to God x 2). Most of these are 1 to 1.25 hours long. Our Board is offering these for free and they can be found online 24 hours a day. When I taught these classes I used fill in the blank Participant Notes to make capturing the highpoints easier as well as providing additional information on several of the topics. These are available for a slight fee ($5 per session).
If you have questions developing an apprenticeship program please drop me an email or give me a call. I would be happy to help. Of course there would be no charge, it is just our ministry.
April 23, 2015