Jesus taught and modeled ministry (Mark 1:14-15) and prayed (Luke 6:12) before He called the twelve apostles (sent ones). After Jesus called them (Mark 3:13), He prepared them by continuing to teach and model ministry with them before sending them out. They were sent out in pairs (Mark 6:7) to do what He had been doing. Then He called them together for a report time (Mark 6:30).
What can we learn from his example? He modeled, prayed, and observed before approaching the twelve. How can we think we can shorten the process? Be intentional!
Since people have varying abilities and previous experiences, multiplying leaders will usually require between six and twelve months. Prayer and enlistment will often take one to three of those months. Consider these enlistment steps:
- Pray. Ask for God’s leadership in discovering those He wants you to apprentice.
- Observe. Spend time watching what God is doing in the lives of those in (and around) your group.
- Take them with you. Invite potential leaders to join you for life and group activities. Go to a ball game together. Make a visit. Have a meal. Plan a fellowship. Give them growing assignments.
- Debrief what they did. Ask questions. Listen. Affirm strengths and gifts. Offer suggestions for the future.
- Ask them to serve. Following God’s leadership in prayer and observation, formalize your apprenticing efforts by asking them to “join you in ministry.” Because you can affirm them through prayer and observation, more will take this opportunity seriously. Asking them to join you will heighten their attention to your training efforts from this point forward.
God deserves more than warm bodies. He deserves our best. Take time for prayerful enlistment of God-called people. He, you, and they will be glad you did!
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.