One of the most commonly accepted truths of the small group movement is that every leader should have an apprentice. Many churches have practiced the idea that before you could start a new group you had to have a leader and an apprentice. Many churches measure the percentage of their groups that have an apprentice in place.
The "how important is it to have an apprentice?" question is asked very frequently, But…misses the question before the question.
What's the question before the question? Here it is: "How will you identify and develop enough leaders to provide a way for everyone in your congregation to connect in community?" (OK, I know that's two questions. Just work with me!)
Ever wrestled with those questions? They must be asked first, because they determine how much stock you'll put in the apprentice idea. Let's tackle them one at a time.
First, how will you identify enough leaders to provide a way for everyone in your congregation to connect in community? That begs a prior discussion. Before you can know how to identify enough leaders, you'll need to know how many Unconnected Adults you have. How do you find that out? Here are the questions:
- How many adults are part of your congregation? Careful! It's not enough to know your average adult attendance. You need to know how many adults attend your church (usually over the course of a month). That may take a little work, but it will be worth thinking through. As a shortcut, you might use your Easter or Christmas Eve adult numbers. In many churches that is a pretty accurate representation of the number of adults that attend your church. This is "Total Adults."
- How many are already connected? How many adults are in your groups? Real numbers. This is "Already Connected."
Once you know those two numbers you can do the math. Here's the equation:
Total Adults – Already Connected = Unconnected Adults.
What did you come up with? Now divide it by ten. That's approximately Enough Leaders to take care of the number of adults who are currently attending.
Tracking? How big is that gap? The one between the number of leaders you have and the number of leaders you need?
Here's the next questions: "Can the apprenticing idea resolve that gap? Can it resolve the gap in time?"