a movement is to start with you and your friends, then it all begins with your becoming an apprentice. The core competency
of any movement is apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is a fundamental principle of reproduction, yet it is so often overlooked.
gifted communicator can attract a huge crowd, a charismatic leader can create tremendous energy, and a talented writer can
sell books by the millions. But if that teacher, leader, or writer wants to see their influence grow into a missional movement,
they first must learn what it means to become an apprentice.
The very first action that Jesus took to start His movement was
to recruit twelve apprentices.
Come, follow Me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. - Matthew4:19
Jesus called twelve men
into an apprenticeship and then taught them the basics of His message and His ministry so that they could do the same things
He had done. Two thousand years later the Jesus movement has reached billions and billions of people, and it continues to
impact new generations with an unchanging message. Through apprenticeships, people are empowered to reach their leadership
capacity and influence as many others as possible to accomplish the mission.
You may have noticed that what I’m talking about sounds similar to what we
often call “discipleship.” I intentionally use the word apprentice as opposed to disciple.
While disciple is a brilliant word (and a word used by Jesus Himself), it often does not mean to us what
Jesus meant when He used it. I believe that disciple is a ruined word.
When Jesus called people into discipleship, He was calling them
for and preparing them to accomplish a mission.
When people use the world disciple today, though, it has almost
nothing to do with our mission. Discipleship in the church today has more to do with consuming and absorbing cognitive content
than it has anything to do with missional action. Being a disciple is more about an individual and his/her ability to get
a passing grade on the subject matter, and less about being a follower of Jesus who lives in community with others for the
sake of Christ’s mission. I’m convinced that it will take at least another generation for us to recover the meaning
of the word disciple so it is heard in the way Jesus meant for it to be heard.
introduction of new language is a crucial step in reshaping paradigms and getting people to think differently about the movement
of Jesus. Successful businesses are now seeing the importance of this principle. Ram Charan, in his book Leaders
at All Levels, explains why the word apprenticeship has such power today: “Apprenticeship is at the heart of this
new approach to leadership development. To understand why, you’ll have to come to grips with a potentially controversial
belief: leadership can only be developed through practice. Those who have talent for leadership must develop
their abilities by practicing in the real world and converting that experience into improved skill and judgment. That conversion
does not take place in a classroom.”
In other words, you can choose to continue to use the word disciple,
but that choice may prove counterproductive and result in producing the same kinds of static thinking you are trying to change.
The word apprentice says that you not only are a learner but also are willing and ready to take action
that will demand greater leadership responsibility in order to further the movement of Jesus.
don’t just learn; they do what they have been taught and aspire to lead themselves.