The church was commissioned to make disciples, teaching them to observe all that her Lord Jesus Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19). One thing He has commanded is that his church be led by elders/pastors/overseers (these terms are interchangeable). Raising up, testing, and ordaining elders is the role of the church. Seminaries may assist the church in this, but they must not supplant her.
This is why FBC Meridian has an elder apprenticeship. We want to raise up elders from within our church and for other churches as well.
While discipleship is lifelong, and should both precede and follow apprenticeship, this is a formal and focused time of training for the specific purpose of raising up elders. Going through the apprenticeship doesn’t qualify one to be an elder, but it is meant to be a part of discipling men who have a desire to shepherd God’s flock toward that goal.
There are two tracks for elder apprenticeship. Track one is referred to as an intern-apprenticeship. This is a one year intensive internship. This track works best for: 1. Someone coming to FBCM from another church, 2. Those preparing for, or having just completed seminary, 3. Young single men, or married men without children, 4. Those who can work part-time. This is not a paid internship, but housing with utilities may be available.
Track two, simply an apprenticeship, is more flexible, but for convenience a two-year plan is assumed by giving two months to each assignment given below. This track works best for men within our body who have families and full-time jobs.
Apprentices will take part in elder meetings, join elders during counseling sessions and pastoral visits, read a number of books and write papers on them, be given teaching opportunities, develop a sermon series and potentially preach it, and be given various other ministry and administrative tasks.
Additionally they must take the systematic theology course offered during their time as apprentices (interns can only take two of the four semesters). Apprentices have additional course work as indicated on the attached syllabus.
Application and Requirements
All persons interested in apprenticeship must fill out the apprentice questionnaire and submit a resume with five references (three for non-intern apprentices). To be considered for the current year, these must be received by May 1st. The intern-apprenticeship will last for a full year beginning in August.
Apprentices must be or become members of FBC Meridian, agreeing with the congregational affirmation of faith and the church covenant. Apprentices coming from outside of FBCM will need to go through the membership process as part of their application. They will be presented to the body as apprentices, with membership pending their coming. As members they must be involved in the life of the body by attending the weekly worship gatherings, participating in a LifeGroup, and attending all MeridianLife fellowships.
Download a fuller description of the apprenticeship.