Identifying Apprentice Leaders*, Part 1

Why Do I Need an Apprentice Leader?

The vitality and effectiveness of any local church is directly related to the quality of its leadership.  The meta-church small group model emphasizes the ongoing development of leaders in the body.  It is the responsibility of the church to identify and develop new leaders so that the mission of the Gospel can be accomplished and so that people can be shepherded.  Jesus modeled this with the twelve disciples, and Paul exhorted Timothy to do the same (2 Timothy 2:2).  We at Willow Creek are firm believers in the Ephesians 4:12 concept of mobilizing and building up the body of Christ so that each member can accomplish the ministry that God has given him or her.  It is the duty and privilege of all small group leaders to train up a new generation of leaders and to pass the baton effectively.  The future hangs in the balance.

How Do I Spot a Rising Apprentice Leader?

  1. Look for group members who take the group seriously.
  2. Consider those people who challenge your leadership.  These may be potential leaders who are frustrated because they have no opportunity to lead.
  3. Look for gifted people whom you can recognize and affirm.
  4. Pray regularly for new apprentices (Luke 6:12-16)
  5. Look for people who embrace the small group vision.
  6. Observe people as they perform tasks or work with people.  Give them additional ministry opportunities and responsibilities to see if perhaps they have some leadership potential.
  7. Try to look for people who exhibit the following spiritual, emotional, and social qualifications:

Spiritual qualifications

  • Do they see God working in their life?
  • Are they self-feeders?  Do they consistently spend more time nurturing their own spiritual growth through time in God’s Word and prayer?
  • Are they eager to learn?  Do they actively participate in spiritual discussions?
  • Do they share the vision of small groups?

Emotional Qualifications

  • Are they secure enough to be vulnerable and honest with the group?
  • Are they emotionally stable?  Are they aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and not subject to mood swings that affect the group dynamic?
  • How do they respond to confrontation and character development?  Defensively?  Responsively?

Social Qualifications

  • Do they openly participate without dominating?  If this is an issue, how did they respond to confrontation on the issue?
  • Are they able to listen to others in a caring way?
  • Are they able to facilitate discussion?

*Excepted from: Leading Life-Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue. 2002