Apprentice: Come, Wait, Follow, Go
Chris Neal, Church Mission Society,

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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Apprentice is a daily discipleship resource for individuals and groups helping them to explore the life of Jesus more fully.

Day by day, week by week, you will explore four spiritual rhythms: Come, Wait, Follow and Go.

Focusing on the Gospel of Luke, readers go on a journey through Jesus’ life. Travel from Jesus’ birth to resurrection with a weekly thought, prayer and image, and daily reflections. There are questions for small groups to reflect and pray together.

Apprentice has been created by Chris Neal, former director of mission community at Church Mission Society, and all the contributors are part of the CMS community.
Below are the first three months of Apprentice. We have also included an introduction, an overview which explains the vision of the project and ideas on how to pray as you use the resource.

To access more months of Apprentice and for further information visit www.apprentice2jesus.net

What do you get?

Access to a year’s worth of weekly thoughts and daily readings, each separated in to monthly themes. Includes links to Facebook forums to discuss the content and images to reflect on. For more information, visit: https://churchmissionsociety.org/resources/apprentice-daily-discipleship-resource

Who is it for?

Individuals and groups committed to learning about Jesus through Luke’s Gospel by daily reflection and weekly group discussion. For both Christians and Enquirers. Perfect for those struggling to fit the Bible in to their day-to-day life.

Cost?

Free from https://apprentice2jesus.net/resources

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Apprentice is a simple and easy to use daily discipleship resource. It is aimed for use by individuals but also encourages people to reach out to small groups and online forums. Each reflection focuses on Jesus as told by Luke, and the series challenges individuals to come to Jesus, wait for him, follow him and go with him. The reflections are very short and consist of a key point from Scripture followed by a couple of sentences to guide interpretation. Preceding the seven daily verses is a corresponding weekly thought, prayer and verse. Finally, there are group questions and a prayer for the end of each week. The layout is spacious, simple and clear and the resource is a good place to start for those struggling to find time for Jesus in their daily lives. Context, culture and how people at the time felt are also included throughout. Accessible online or via a print out too as a 200+ A4 page resource.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    This resource aims to help people to find a rhythm for learning about Jesus. The overall aims are to come to Jesus, wait for him, follow him and then go with him. This is aided by use of the Gospel of Luke. Each week also gives a ‘thought for the week’ which focuses the reader’s mind on the key message for that week.

    How accessible are the leader’s notes?

    As a resource for individuals, this reflection study guide does not include leader notes, however guidance is clear and concise and group discussion questions are clearly presented and easily worded for all adults to understand.

    Who could lead it?

    N/A for this resource, however any one participant would have everything needed if they were going to host a group session to discuss the end of week questions.

    How helpful are the participants’ resources?

    Participants receive verses, thoughts, reflections and images; these all complement the topics well. All individuals need access to the full Apprentice guide.

    How good is any digital material?

    Links to online forums for discussion lead to Facebook pages which are updated regularly by users.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Apprentice includes a ‘how to use’ this resource section which emphasises the importance of coming to Jesus, waiting for him to communicate, and then following him. Preparation is very short as this guide aims to bring people to Jesus as they are, in the moment. Before first use, it would be helpful for individuals to read through the aims and overview of the resource; daily sessions thereafter take 10 – 15 minutes depending on time spent on prayer and in reflection. For group sessions, individuals come together with their own thoughts and answer a few questions together. Depending on the setting of this group work, a host may wish to prepare a meal or drinks prior to people arriving for discussion and prayer.

    Is there website support? Links?

    There is one external link within the resource and several links to Facebook forums where people can discuss their thoughts and ideas. Some other supporting material is available on the Church Mission Society website.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    This resource is 75% about individual prayer and reflection and 25% focused on interaction with others. It appreciates that each person needs their own relationship with God, but does not tiptoe around the simple command that in fellowship with others, faith can grow, be fruitful and allow accountability.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Delivery is solely by reading the material and reflecting on it. Individuals learn through weekly thoughts, daily reflections and discussion via online forums or small groups. There are tools for discipleship offered throughout the resource which individuals may choose to use too. For example, keeping a journal, reviewing each day based on a structure given in the resource, or reading recommended books like ‘The return of the Prodigal Son’.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Apprentice aims to help individuals and groups explore the life of Jesus but does not assume all participants are regular church goers. There is positive reinforcement of people working together to understand Jesus, so there are additional questions for groups to consider even though these reflections are primarily intended for individual use. Apprentice begins with the birth of Jesus and this is followed by his ministry, death and resurrection as told by Luke. Each week, there is an introduction to the passage, the Bible verse itself, a prayer and an image which go alongside the daily reflections. Sessions can be used flexibly as there is no correlation between each week and the yearly calendar, but the rhythm does follow the tradition of the early church with each new week beginning on a Sunday and finishing on a Saturday. This resource is best used as an individual in the week (with each reflection taking 10-15 minutes) where time spent on prayer will vary depending on the person. Participants can then meet up weekly in a small group or pairs to answer questions together, or discuss topics and themes on the online Facebook forums which the resource links to. This resource is good for people wanting to walk with Jesus day by day, but who are perhaps not sure where to start or struggle with making the time; it encourages you to get in to a healthy rhythm. No extra materials are needed and everything is provided in the pack, some extra digital material is available online but this is not mandatory for the sessions. It is beneficial before starting the course to read up on Church Mission Society’s overview of this resource. It would suit more established situations and older adults; not really designed for millenials.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Participants can apply material together in two ways recommended in this resource: 1) by meeting as a small group weekly to discuss the themes and questions presented or 2) by engaging in the online Facebook forums which there are links to in the book. Questions presented are challenging but not daunting. They range from asking ‘What strikes you most in this passage?’ to more specific and tricky questions like ‘How can we discern God’s voice and know whether we are speaking with his authority?’

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Most of the material is Bible based with Bible readings being central to daily reflection time and group discussion. The rest of the material is indirectly Bible based and takes on three forms: prayer, context of the topic and answering questions. There are sporadic activities and external resource recommendations throughout too.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Biblical material is presented in short sections and in chronological order covering the gospel of Luke. Each week gives a thought relating to the passage, a key verse for that week and daily snapshots from the passage to think about and reflect on. This is guided by a couple of sentences of input and some prayer suggestions. The resource then encourages individuals to come together in some way (whether that is online, over a coffee with a friend or in a small group) and share their insights while answering set questions and challenges. The resource also mentions ideas for discipleship which people may be using to apply their biblical material to as the weeks go by, for example by use of a journal to track their spiritual journey.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Biblical material is applied to everyday life throughout this resource in daily reflection, weekly questions and challenges. For example, when thinking about the kingdom of God on earth, individuals consider that this can be in small acts of kindness day to day and asked to consider what they can do and how they can help others with the resources available to them. When visiting Jesus’ crucifixion, individuals are challenged to answer the question ‘What does carrying your cross this week look like?’ There is a good balance between challenging how participants think and how they practically live out their lives.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    This resource does not have a particular theological perspective, however there are set prayers throughout which can be adapted if needs be. There are sessions on the importance of Passover and communion.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    This resource is all about learning how to be a disciple and equipping individuals with key tools in order to have a close relationship with God. Participants are directly challenged to reflect on their discipleship growth when considering the parable of the sower, and there are numerous questions throughout the resource about attitudes to discipleship using passages about Jesus’ disciples and how they acted, for example, Peter’s denial of Jesus. Some of the key tools for discipleship suggested are: using a spiritual journal, creating good rhythms when it comes to prayer and reflection, learning how to pray the Lord’s Prayer, using gifts and talents for God and keeping focused on Jesus’ main goal; salvation is priority. The resource talks about the importance of servanthood as an ‘I’ and as a church and uses the story of the road to Emmaus to ask people how often they walk with Jesus and talk to him as a key part of discipleship. It teaches that by doing so, they can have their eyes opened to the truth and will learn more and more, which are the characteristics of a witness to Christ.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    The most valuable thing this resource does is to present parts of Luke’s gospel in manageable chunks alongside the context and attitudes at the time it was written. This means individuals aren’t overwhelmed with information but they aren’t clueless as to why each verse is significant either. For example, when reading about Jesus healing a bleeding woman, they are reminded that at that time Jesus would have become ritually ‘unclean’ according to Jewish Law. They note that in this instance, Jesus responded to this woman’s faith and that this shocked and challenged contemporary taboos. Individuals are encouraged to grow in faith by understanding that Jesus’ kingdom does not have social divisions and that by trusting in these miracles, we also need to evaluate our attitudes to miracles today. Are we open to new things being possible? Do we believe in the power of God? There are all kinds of challenges like this offered throughout the resource as it journeys through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    This book makes one thing clear about God’s purpose: that salvation is priority and the path to it is narrow. Everything else is good in the examples Jesus set, but readers are reminded that with each of Jesus’ miracles came forgiveness of sins. This resource follows a journey of God’s promises, starting with the gift of Jesus fulfilling all the Old Testament promises. Jesus then lives a life which constantly points to God and the right order of things. He faces fierce conflict and opposition from the Pharisees head on, and readers are reminded that to be a Christian does not mean an easy and assured life. Individuals are challenged to continuously assess their attitudes and stereotypes, and encouraged to act out what they learn about God’s purposes for their lives on earth.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Lots of the titles for these sessions are based on daily issues and feelings. There are sessions on: generosity, worldly cares, communion, betrayal, denial, temptation, money, power, healing, conflict, suffering and so many more. This resource does not make Christianity comfortable or focus only on the good news, it constantly requires delivers to evaluate their own traits, to open up to new mindsets and to think about where the truth of God does not manage to reach in their lives. For example, when thinking about Jesus calming the storm, people consider storms in their lives they have not trusted God with, and consider successes in their lives so far where their faith has been stretched by God’s promises.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Personal evangelism is encouraged in this resource as a trait of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Readers are reminded that Jesus prepared his disciples for their work before he left earth, and that we need to be the messengers who live out and demonstrate the radical new perspectives that Jesus shifted the social norms with. Individuals are challenged to constantly weave love and repentance as they face opposition to Christ in their evangelism to the marginalised and to non-believers, just as Jesus faced opposition head-on by journeying in to Jerusalem. They consider what mocking may be expected by those who are living the Christian life. There is a theme of ‘lostness’ being the current climate, and an opportunity offered for Christians to do their part by considering how their own journeys are helping to solve this problem.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    This resource encourages participants to engage with culture and society as Jesus did. For example, challenges are presented in relation to hospitality towards the marginalised, and the parable of the Good Samaritan is used to question how we can help others now with our resources; be that time, money or skill. In Luke 17:1-19, readers are reminded that Jesus unified divisions and conflicts in relationships, and commanded that we help one another along the way however we can.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    The theme that there is a feeling on people in the world being lost is applicable in this resource both as a global theme and local one. Readers follow Jesus’ journey through the gospel and learn that he came for all people, therefore their discipleship needs to be broad and not hindered by social divisions, stereotypes or assumptions.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Global mission is not a main focus in this resource, however the final week focuses on the ascension, and encourages individuals to find out more about the worldwide church and Christians across the world.

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