Is Spiritual Apprenticeship A Dead Art?


The method of training people in a trade or art through mentoring—called “apprenticeship”—is not as prevalent as it once was. This year I had the chance to visit the art district of Raleigh, North Carolina. Moore Square is home to artists of all kinds, a community of friends, many of whom take pleasure in mentoring the next generation of artists.

Over the last few days I’ve been surrounded by hundreds of people who are committed to the idea of being spiritual mentors. The Navigators National Conference is underway in Louisville, where 1,400 Navigator staff members and friends are encouraging each other in the life of discipleship.

Jesus did His spiritual mentoring, His investing in the lives of the next generation, through the use of the “apprenticeship” model. He spent regular time with a handful of people, both individually and in groups, imparting and modeling lessons on living life to its fullest.

In His last days on earth, as Jesus gave final instructions to His followers, also known as “disciples” (the original Greek word mathetes means student, follower, or learner). Jesus encouraged them to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). The Message translation puts it this way: “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life…”

Many churches and organizations boast discipleship programs. But discipleship and disciple-making is only a shadow of its true self when it exists in the form of programs and curriculum. True discipling is experienced through life-on-life encounters, either one-on-one, one-on-two or -three, or in small groups. We live as true followers of Jesus when we consider ourselves learners under His teaching. And we are called to help others because, as a good friend once told me, a leader is someone a step ahead and headed in the right direction.

What keeps you from taking on a life apprentice? Is there someone in the pathways of your life that you could help in everyday living and their relationship with Jesus?

Read more: The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman

Leave a Reply