If you’d like to train someone to lead a Bible study, and you’re ready to take the risk, you might just be waiting for a post about what to actually do when you meet with your apprentice. This is your post. There is one thing you must know, and then I’ll share some specifics about how I do it.
First, what you must know: You don’t need to follow a curriculum. The most common question I receive is “What materials do you use in your ministry?” And I don’t want to sound rude, but, ahem, the Bible is enough. You don’t need workbooks or study guides to tell you what question to ask next. Writers of study guides have much to offer, but they will never know as much as you do about you, your apprentice, your situation, or the needs of your small group. So make clear goals and find whatever direction you need. But major on getting to know your apprentice, shepherding his/her character, and discussing what will most help your group.
Now, when I say “you don’t need to follow a curriculum,” please don’t hear me saying you shouldn’t use a curriculum. Sometimes it can help. Sometimes it scratches the right itch. Sometimes.
So here’s what I do with my current apprentice, Jon. The training with my last apprentice looked different, but Jon and I are still early in our relationship, getting to know each other and learning how to encourage each other. Jon and I meet about every 2 weeks, at 8:15 pm on a weeknight (after our children are in bed), for 60-75 minutes.
- “How was your week?”
- “How is your marriage (or parenting) going?” (Insert major life responsibility, or chief character aim here.)
- “How do you think our small group is going? What is good, and what should we work on?” (Questions 1-3 take 30-45 minutes)
- Discuss one chapter of Knowable Word for about 10 minutes. Then we spend 15-20 minutes practicing those skills on the passage we studied at our last small group meeting (making the principles explicit).
- Pray for the group and for each other.
This meeting is neither an interview nor a lecture, but a conversation. I inject it with as much of my personal life as possible so we can get to know each other. Because I’m not the holy Prophet descending the mountain to convey my wisdom before returning to my contemplation, the relationship goes in both directions.
After we finish Knowable Word, I’ll probably have Jon read Growth Groups by Colin Marshall. But again, the discussion will center on the need of the moment, not the next approved subject. The key is not to follow a plan, but to live life together and offer real-time coaching.
I’d love to hear what else you’ve found effective in training apprentices.