This is Part 3 in our series Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices.
Three Important Environments for Apostolic Apprentices
As we have trained apostolic apprentices over the years, we have seen three invaluable environments where learning must occur. In our apprentice training we try to give each apprentice substantial time in any of these environments that they have not experienced previously. We realize that they will learn much more than we can teach by being immersed in these environments.
1. Home fellowships (organic communities) [see Part 2 ]
2. Apostolic teams planting Kingdom communities
Apostolic work should result in germinating local communities of the Kingdom. But the apostolic task is broader than that—including things like training apprentice apostles, reproducing teams and giving ongoing needed help to previously started local communities, etc. But the task always includes local work which is trying to germinate fellowships of faith where the light of the Gospel can shine through loving fellowships into a dark world, bringing hope to the hopeless.
Apostolic work is carried out by apostolic teams. We have found that apostolic teams present special challenges. Apostles tend not to build community easily or well. They often are hard headed and not very socially skilled. They tend to be task oriented rather than relationally based. Apostles are leaders and tend to rub into other leaders of the same ilk with lots of sparks. In my 35+ years of experience on various apostolic teams they have all been places where each apostle have had to die to find new, communal life. And many of us have had to die over and over again! But if apostles can develop community within a team, they can pass that DNA on to the local communities they germinate.
Therefore we have found that it is important that each apprentice serve with an apostolic team. They need to see the good, bad and ugly of apostolic community. They also need to have their own “flat sides” and prickles rub up against others in the community. It is only in this way that they are able to grow personally and become more self-aware in such a way as to become a helpful contributor to apostolic communities of which they are a part.
In a few cases we have allowed a whole team of apprentices to go through the forming, storming, norming, performing team sequence, especially if the team is planning on being together for several years. But we have found that usually it is better for apprentices to participate in an already existing team. The team already has developed an ethos into which the apprentice can fit. When the apprentice’s issues come up it is easier to see which are his/hers and which are particular to the team. But this is where senior mentors, who are outside the team, can often be of great help, not only helping the apprentice see what they need to, but giving helpful coaching to the team so it can grow through the experience as well.
Another benefit of an apprentice working in a mature team is that the apostolic team has a good sense of the gifting of the members, especially in the Ephesians 4 areas, and different ones on the team can help the apprentice become more aware of his/her gifting as well as hone that gift and find out how the gifting can fit harmoniously with the other gifts on the team. And of course, help them where their gifting causes natural conflicts within the team, and how to manage this in such a way that both apprentice and team grow and benefit.
Apostles have their own difficulties, and older apostles can help apprentices to work on areas of character which may be exposed in this environment. Older apostles have gone through the painful process of maturing in the apostolic work and in apostolic teams, and are able to draw up beside young apostles empathizing with their struggles, but also helping them overcome various issues which will come up. To put a time frame on this sort of mentoring is very difficult, and this will be unlikely to conform to some curriculum format….
….In our next and final post in the series, we will discuss the third critical environment for apostolic apprentices: Living within the context of the germinating new community. We will also provide a link for you to view/download the entire paper, Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices. Until then, Cheers!