After properly enlisting leaders to serve (join you in ministry), it is essential to apprentice, train, and equip the leader. Since people have varying abilities and previous experiences, equipping leaders leaders will often require between six and twelve months. Consider these actions:
- Increase the training pace. In anticipation of releasing the multiplying leader to serve, give an increasing number and mix of opportunities for leadership expression. For instance, move from one teaching Sunday to teaching every other Sunday prior to releasing them to serve.
- Lead them to choose an apprentice. Help your apprentice become a multiplying leader by leading him/her to prayerfully enlist and begin investing in an apprentice.
- Set a launch date. After prayer and observation, determine a date to start the new group. Communicate the date with the apprentice and with the group. Hesitate to send the apprentice out alone. Remember, Jesus sent them out in pairs. If you are leaving the current group in the apprentice’s hands so you can leave to start a new group, let the group know what you are doing and express confidence in the apprentice as he or she takes over the group’s leadership.
- Celebrate the launch. Remember to praise God and affirm those who have helped launch the new group. Celebrate with sponsoring groups, the new group, and in the congregation.
- Continue to coach. Following the launch of the new group, continue to encourage the new group leader. Coach him/her through challenges toward fruitfulness.
What Equipping Curriculum Should I Use?
The teaching plan for training your apprentice starts with your life and group leadership practices. Invite your apprentice to join you in both. Investing in an apprentice will begin with a time of getting acquainted. Then assess the apprentice’s knowledge,
experience, and needs. Praying together is essential!
Asking many questions will help greatly. Addressing basics is important. Encourage quiet time practices. Demonstrate yours. Help him or her develop the ability to evaluate priorities. Other issues are lesson preparation, teaching, fellowship planning, making contacts and visits, organizing the group ministry, and mobilizing people into service. Affirm progress.
Hand off responsibility in increasing amounts. Follow this pattern of progression:
- I do, you watch.
- I do, you help.
- You do, I help.
- You do, I watch.
- You do, someone else watches.
Debriefing after each assignment reinforces the learning and allows for adjustments along the way. In your weekly interaction, consider reading and discussing helpful Sunday School books and articles. Avoid focusing only on one aspect, such as teaching. Keep your apprenticing balanced. This will keep both of you effective.
Darryl Wilson serves as Sunday School & Discipleship Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina and is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups.