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October 1, 2016

Apprenticing Like Paul: The Bigger Picture

by Matt Ulrich

Paul was a genius church planter and disciple maker. Why? Because he always had vision for the people around him. He wasn’t just filling ministry positions in the churches he planted; he was helping people walk in their God given purpose and helping people to “live lives worthy of the calling they received” as he penned in Ephesians 4:2.   Great microchurch leaders have that same type of vision, and this month we are going to talk through how to create this type of visionary culture in your microchurch, starting with your apprentice!

So often, we get caught up in what is right in front of us and fail to see the bigger picture. This happens a lot, particularly with apprenticeship.   We see all these tasks, relationships, and moving pieces in a microchurch and the easy thing to do is to simply throw your apprentice into the mix of it to help you get stuff done.   But when we do that, we miss the bigger picture of what it means to apprentice someone, because apprenticing in more than just microchurch task management! I think one common mistake is that microchurch leaders see apprentices as someone to delegate tasks to and that as long as they can go through the motions of microchurch leadership, they are ready to lead. While this is definitely an important part of raising them up, this is an incomplete vision of discipleship! Yes, they need to have a command of the elements of leading microchurch, but apprenticeship is more than just that.

If you do the following three things, you will ensure that your apprentice is growing in and receiving well-rounded discipleship that will help to prepare them to not only lead a microchurch well, but to also be a visionary disciple maker for the rest of their life:

1. Disciple them with microchurch in mind

 We have to remember: they are an apprentice in your microchurch, so clearly we need to train them up in how to lead a microchurch. Make sure that they are proficient in all the aspects of leading a microchurch: leading a discussion, prayer, following up with members, facilitating events outside of microchurch, multiplication, etc.   Have them watch you do this, help you do this, and then eventually do this on their own. (Check out the apprenticeship tab on the top of this blog page for great resources that go in depth in these areas!)

2. Disciple them without microchurch in mind

This is where we miss the important because of the urgent. The urgent is pulling off microchurch each week. The important is discipling your apprentice as a disciple when they are not at the microchurch helm. As a leader, you need to ensure that your apprentice is green (worshiping, in community, and on mission) in all areas of their life!

Worship: Do they seek the Lord daily? Do they hear God’s voice? Have a command of Scripture? Are they in touch with their spiritual gifts? As a leader, you need to make sure these are in place. One great way to do this is to seek the Lord with them, memorize Scripture with them, and regularly model the attributes you want them to have in a way that they can see you in action.   We reproduce what we are, and we learn through intimate imitation… so invite them in to your time with the Lord!

Community: This is happening in microchurch, but show them what it looks like outside of microchurch. Invite them into your home for dinner regularly. Spend time with them doing non-spiritual things so they can see you without your church face on. Let them see you interact with your kids and spouse, your friends, and even strangers. This goes a long way to invite them into your life. Some of my most cherished and formative discipleship moments were when I was simply living life with my mentors without a “spiritual agenda”.

Mission: Your apprentice will not be well rounded if they don’t know how to share their faith and are not doing that regularly. So take them out with you when you are evangelizing. (It’s great accountability for you too!) Show them how to invite someone to church at the grocery store and how to start spiritual conversations with friends and even strangers. Share the Gospel regularly so they see this as normative… because it should be.   NOTE: If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, email one of the microchurch team members and we can help you out!

3. Help them get in touch with the vision and calling on their life.

This is where we have to zoom out of everything microchurch related and think of how you are moving your apprentice along on a personal/calling level. Each apprentice has a call, passions, and vision that the Lord has given them. Good disciple makers can pray through this, see it, and call it out in the people they are discipling.

Spend some time praying through this and watching your apprentice and see where they shine. See where God’s hand is clearly on them and cultivate that. Encourage them to run after the things God has made clear in their hearts and lives!! Be able to see the bigger picture in their life and move them in that direction. When you become their biggest fan and are pushing them in the direction of God’s call on their life, you develop a heart for their success like Paul did with Timothy… and it changes their life.


Paul was a juggernaut of the faith, and one of the primary reasons I think he was so influential and instrumental in raising up so many churches, planters, pastors, and disciples was because he was able to see the bigger vision for individual’s lives. Pray that the Lord will use you in this way with your apprentice!

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