"Christian Service Brigade is the men of the local church reaching out to the boys in their neighbourhood for Christ."

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Apprenticing Leaders by Dr Steve Grove, CSB Canada

"As we know it today, discipleship is mostly about that first kind of learning: the classroom experience. And really, that’s about it. We learn from the pastor’s teaching on Sunday. We learn from Bible studies. We go to Sunday School. We learn from small group discussion guides and DVDs. We learn from reading books. We learn from taking classes at church. Notice that all of this is completely information driven, in some sort of classroom-esque experience. There is virtually no apprenticing happening in our churches."

Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen

I have been a student of discipleship for most of my life. My interest started in Brigade as a Stockader, continued on in Bible college and a youth major in my master’s degree. Even my doctoral project focused on helping a father disciple his son. I have seen the divide that Mike Breen talks about. In the church, we are so good at information transfer. We often think if we have said the right words, that we have accomplished the work God has given us, but often there is a next step God wants us, challenges us, to take.

The next step is to live out what we talk about in front of our boys and young men, what Breen calls “apprenticing”. As men, and fathers, we can do that in the family. We play with our kids, our children see us as we relate to our spouse, they see us as we fix things around the house or apartment. They watch us as we drive and interact with the occasional bad driver. But there are a surprising number of men are largely absent from their family for work and other activities, and many single parent homes that lack a mature male presence altogether. To do this in the church is a further challenge - how do we live what we say when our context is mostly just speaking? Where do the boys and young men see our behaviour, our life?

Consider how we can be more intentional in establishing apprenticeships its mission of making disciples. Let’s find a way to make our programs and ministries lean more to action and life than just pushing information. I grew up in a great church, with a great youth group. I did 3 Bible studies on Sundays (Sunday School, morning service (sermon), evening service (sermon)). Then we had youth group, youth choir and youth events, two of those with Bible studies or devotionals. Five studies a week (two nights on top of Sundays). I was also out one night for Brigade, and another for Evangelism Explosion, and so those five studies were balanced “faith in action”. I would be happy today if my children had one good weekly study with solid “apprentice-style” application.

Do we balance our programs today with apprenticeship style events? We are busy people - families have so many choices to make in terms of time and relationships: school and extracurricular activities, church services and programs, time spent with extended family, neighbours and peers, hobbies and sports. Perhaps we need to do less things, but be more intentional about what we are doing with whom. 


  1. Hello Steve;
    A few years ago, I was leading a youth group and wanted to get a better handle on discipleship. I asked the librarian at TWU who was the best author on discipleship today. He directed me to Michael Wilkin's book on Discipleship in the first century and the Gospel of Matthew. It changed my view on discipleship. I became convinced that the Great Commission at the end of Matthew was a command to use Jesus' apprenticeship model--spend a good amount of time apprenticing a small number of learners to the point where they could do the same with others.
    Thank you for your leadership,

    George Bertness

  2. I have read several works from people who have studied how Christ worked with His disciples - the best one being Dan Spader's work that ended up being the foundation of Sonlife ministries. Brigade has always used the small group setting fro discipleship in both Stockade (posts) and Battalion (squads). The Noncom ministry becomes its own small group focused specifically on leadership. Thanks for your comment, George.