Apprentice an evangelist

IT’S GOTTA BE DONE!:   Any father of a teenager learning to drive knows the struggle, particularly if the family car is worth anything! Despite their reading of the states driver’s safety book, and a dutiful dad’s repeated and detailed instructions about site lines, brake distances, turning indicators, radio volume, windshield wiper speeds, and accelerator sensitivity … the kid will have to eventually get behind the wheel and take the car for a spin (and hopefully not a roll).

They move out onto the public road and head toward the nearby farm.  Dad is happy the road is straight and there are no cars in sight, but keeps an eye on the speedometer.  As they approach the farm, a tractor is moving near the road, and dad can be seen stiffening and reaching for the mysterious passenger-side brake pedal.  The son uses caution like a pro.  On they go, through town and home again.  The son emerges from the car with a great sense of thrill and accomplishment.  The father … must rest for a while.

The same rule applies to so many things: swimming, carpentry, cooking, painting, etc.  Although there are things to study and comprehend about these activities, they are not truly “learned” unless study is accompanied by an enormous amount of practice under the tutelage of someone more experienced.  The same is true of ministry.  It is true about training someone to do evangelism.


Most of us were trained under the Western model where preparation for ministry took place in the hallowed halls and classrooms of an educational institution, away from the context of ministry.  Oh, we tried to be involved in a church on the weekends, but for most of us, there was no continual responsibility in ministry under the coaching of a pastor-mentor.  Many pastors can’t even look around them to find examples of men who were discipled into ministry.  But we can go to the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t exhort church leaders to merely teach, but to make disciples.  As you may remember, the English word “disciple” is a translation of the Greek word “mathetes” meaning “one who is a disciplined learner from another.”  A disciple is not a mere learner, such as one who simply listens to a teacher.  Vines notes that the root word indicates “thought accompanied by endeavor.”  Discipleship is learning in the context of doing; a disciple is a follower.  There is a connotation of focused and regular learning activities.

APPRENTICESHIP IS ACTION-LEARNING:   Jesus and the twelve were Jewish.  In that culture, a rabbi taught with more of an emphasis on practical living than theoretical thinking.  In the Middle East, the educational maxim was, “I learn by doing, and I learn so that I may do.”

Western education is Greek in its origin.  It is far more theoretical and philosophical, and often follows the maxim, “I learn so that I may know.”  A teacher can expound glorious theory even though he has never practiced the subject he teaches.  The thinkers in Athens spent their time in “nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).  James, however, warned new believers to be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22).  Observe the differences in the following chart.  Notice the emphasis upon “action-learning” in the biblical culture.







I can do

I know

Learn by doing

Learn by listening

Learn in ministry

Learn for ministry



Know God

Know about God

For others

For my GPA and my career

Teacher working with students

Teacher in front of students


Image: tungphoto /

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