Train Apprentice Leaders as Jesus and Paul Did
Yes, new shepherd, you can coach newer shepherds of daughter churches or cells, just as new pastors [elders] did in New Testament times. Just keep a step ahead of them while your own coach coaches [follows] your progress.
Yes, Lord Jesus, we’ll keep your Kingdom expanding by training new leaders, as you modeled. We will avoid education programs that boast “high standards of excellence” while disdaining Your guidelines for training new leaders and normal multiplication.
Accept as trainees only those who are developing new churches or cells, or who are initiating a vital ministry. Avoid those that want only to study theory for some vague future use.
Luther, Wesley, Calvin and other godly leaders have brought about enormous accomplishments by assigning tasks to apprentices. All new leaders need coaching; like newborn children, they and their flocks have urgent needs that an older leader must help deal with. Do not let excessively-academic educators deter coaching, and do not attack academic education. There is a place for institutional training of some pastors, even though they do not work at the cutting edge of an expanding movement. Let either track work where it meets real needs.
Often the best coach for a new leader is another new leader, because their young flocks share the same issues and the leaders readily identify with each other. However, both need a more experienced coach over them.
A Christian coach’s two main duties include modeling and meeting.
1. Model pastoral skills while going with apprentices to deal with others.
Take apprentices with you while you do your work as Jesus and the apostles did. Paul told the Corinthians, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
2. Meet with apprentices anywhere and at any convenient time.
Meet in small gatherings or with only one or two, according to their need. Keep in touch also by phone or email. Some missionaries coach while on horseback or on foot trudging over mountain trails.
During meetings, deal with two pairs of tasks: listen and plan to deal with both fieldwork and studies.
The first pair of tasks deals with fieldwork:
Listen as each trainee reports about fieldwork that he and his flock have done.
Plan together each trainee’s next fieldwork, and record their plans.
Plans normally flow from a trainee’s report, compared wth a checklist of the ministries that the New Testament requires of a church. Use the 4b 22 Checklist under Resources, below.
The second pair of tasks deals with studies.
Listen as each trainee recaps reading previously assigned from Scripture or other sources. If the trainee falters, then assign it again.
Plan and agree what the trainee will read next.
Assign reading that fits his flock’s current needs. You may also assign reading for enrichment that is unrelated to the plans. Record the assignments, to review at the next meeting.
Pray at any time during mentoring sessions, especially when problems arises.
“What you heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who are able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
This chain had four links: Paul, Timothy, faithful men and others also. Acts 19 shows that it produced hundreds of churches in just a few years in “Asia” (western Asia Minor).
Coaching chains give the same results today, if you integrate them with evangelism and church planting, as the apostles did.
To extend a coaching chain…
a. Arrange at once for a trainee to apprentice other, newer shepherds. Many excellent coaches are only a few weeks ahead of newer leaders whom they coach.
b. Base ministries on the commands of Jesus and His apostles, rather than on popular, costly, time-consuming, church practices not required by Jesus or by His apostles.
c. Arrange for churches to serve one another, so that none lags or fails to multiply.
d. Coach trainees as long as they need it, normally until their churches or cells are practicing the vital ministries that the New Testament requires, and multiplication is well established.
e. Model shepherding skills for a trainee while working with people.
f. Focus on a trainee’s flock, not only on the trainee.
Weak leaders are concerned primarily with what they themselves will do as leaders.
Strong leaders are concerned primarily with what those whom they lead will do. When this is clear, what the leader does takes care of itself.
g. Meet with only a few trainees at a time, and deal with each one of them. Jesus mentored twelve and occasionally met with three or fewer. Paul usually led a small band that he coached as they traveled and worked together, keeping the group small enough to interact with each member.
Resources For When You Are…
Consult a checklist of vital church activities while coaching new shepherds. Track a church’s progress by charting its practice of vital ministries:
Decide how to train new leaders. Examine crucial differences between academic teaching and mentored training, where both fit, and the effective ratio between the two, in a particular field:
Train leaders that churches or cells need urgently. Shepherd’s Storybook prepares new pastors quickly. This short novel is a pastoral training course covering essentials, posing study questions. Learn quickly to evangelize, disciple, form a church, initiate vital ministries and birth daughter churches. Use its appendix to find Bible stories that teach vital doctrines and duties.
jit 4a 85 Shepherd’s Storybook, overview, ½ page
Clarify leaders’ duties. Let new leaders do precisely what God tells them to do:
Name neophytes as leaders:
Initiate serious, leadership training. Deal with questions and objections that commonly arise:
Let ladies lead. Leaders in expanding movements, as in some traditional churches draw their sharpest swords to face off on this issue. This document has valuable biblical guidelines for women to serve effectively. It also objectively probes the Greek text to find precisely what Paul meant by his controversial words to Timothy and the Corinthians:
jit 4a 12 Women mentoring women, women in leadership, 3 pages
Get an accurate compass bearing. Help leaders clarify their vision and set long-range objectives.
Decide whether to coach new leaders:
See coaches in God’s Word:
Teach about teaching. This document provides easy-to-follow guidelines to train new leaders in a way that keeps churches or cells multiplying. A must-read.
Common Traps To Avoid
Blindly follow educational tradition.
Some church planters assume that new pastors need academic training. Although there is a place for academic, theological education, but do not cripple new churches by sending their shepherds afar to receive it.
Fret that coaching would take too much time.
Throughout history and around the world today, evidence shows that coaching can save time by multiplying workers who share the work load.
Coach only one-on-one.
Do not define coaching or discipling as one on one. Jesus rarely coached only one, and Paul normally traveled with a small band.
Train only during work hours.
Normally only the unemployed can attend weekday training sessions. In pioneer fields, many who attend workshops are the jobless, the single and the young; these become immature pastors who need financial support because they lack regular income. Thus, their movement cannot grow beyond the limits of available funds, and their churches have inexperienced leaders who fail to meet biblical requirements of shepherding elders. Do not hobble your work in this way.
Excessively segregate children by age.
Children in all cultures crave attention from older children, and do almost anything to please them. Children also enjoy being with peers, but not all the time. Wise mentors help children win younger children to Christ, lead them and disciple them.
Make training too heavy.
Nearly all pastoral training programs in pioneer fields start at a level far too high, with too much heavy reading. You may need to gear down to an effective level. Heavier studies can come later, when leaders and churches are ready to embrace them.