apprentice, really?

I am a fan of Celebrity Apprentice. It is one of my guilty pleasures. I watched the first episode of season 9 tonight on Hulu. It is fascinating to watch so many strong personalities attempt to work together. Some are trainwrecks. Others whom we might expect to be trainwrecks turn out to be solid performers. But that is not why I am writing this post now. After having watched several seasons of Celebrity Apprentice, and the regular iteration of The Apprentice, I find myself asking, “Apprentice of what? Or of whom?” Or perhaps the more apt, “Apprentice, really?”

Think about it. The only time these apprentices interact with their host, Donald Trump, is when he is giving them tasks, and deciding whether or not to fire them in the board room. I see no skill training. No coming alongside the apprentices. It is really no apprenticeship at all. By definition an apprentice is “a person who works for another in order to learn a trade” (dictionary.com). Yes, it is a grueling drawn-out job interview for the participants in the regular show, The Apprentice. But other than saying, “good job” or “bad job” or worse, “you’re fired,” Trump doesn’t waste time implementing any kind of apprenticeship. And for the purposes of this show, we wouldn’t expect him to do that.

But are they really apprentices? And are our churches’ efforts at recruiting and placing volunteers any different? Do we recruit warm bodies and place them in situations where they may or may not flourish? Or do we prayerfully and carefully recruit, equip, and support volunteers, first as apprentices, and later as leaders in ministries where they are most likely to blossom and speak into the lives of other apprentices?

It is an important distinction. We can talk a good talk all we want. Executing what we need to do is an altogether different task. It takes being involved with people, rather than aloof. It takes intentional apprenticeships through mentoring, coaching, and training, rather than the sink-or-swim harshness of the New York City business world.

Ask yourself this question: Do you have a plan-of-action for apprenticing new teachers and leaders in your ministry? If you do, please leave a comment so we can learn from you. If you don’t, then stick around. I will be sharing some of my ideas in upcoming posts.

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