Intentional Apprenticing and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fellowship Church is currently discussing its core values.  One of these values is intentional apprenticing.  I’m really looking foreward to doing that message with Pastor Marty.  What follows is the beginning of what I’m going to share.  More will come later.  But I’m hoping that you’ll share your observations and thoughts about this topic… Maybe their is something I’m missing.  Maybe I’ve got it all wrong.

Like all our services, it’ll be broadcast live on August 2nd, and archived for about a week, at  if you’re interested in checking it out.   At any rate, here’s the beginning of my part:

I think we can find a lot out about intentional apprenticing by thinking about making cookies… And more specifically, with a kid. I’ve asked _____ and his girl _______ to come up, and to get the dough going for some cookies while I’m speaking. As we watch them, I hope maybe it will be an object lesson for us, a way to focus in on the ideas that I’m talking about.

What we all know is that when we want to spend time with my kids, when we want them to learn something from us, we love to bake with them.

However, when we just want to eat something yummy, when I want it to go quickly and efficiently and when I want to have a better chance that everything is going to turn out right, it’s easier to do just do it myself.

The most obvious way this applies to what we’re doing is to realize that when we intentionaly apprentice, it might get a little messy. It might take a little bit longer. Perhaps, in the end, the cookies won’t even quite turn out as good. One thing to do, when we think about the topic of intentional apprenticing, is to to grab on to the idea that the mentor is the dad, and the apprentice is his daughter.

And so, of course, the implication of all this is that if the parent simply makes the cookies, the kid never learns how.

That’s all true, as far as it goes. It’s true that, if we don’t apprentice people, then they won’t learn. But let’s look at this illustration a little bit differently. Because we’re all apprentices when it comes to God. We’re all sons and daughters, when it comes to the person who we’re working for.

Have you ever thought about that: God’s has this mission that is close to his heart. And if he did it himself, he would do it perfectally.

God doesn’t seek us out because we’re more talented. God doesn’t seek us out because we’ve got more time on our hands. God doesn’t want a second opinion, or because he’s bored with the same old thing time after time.

Whatever it is you do to fufill God’s mission on earth, he could do it better. He could play a better guitar. He could preach a better sermon. He could love the fatherless, he could care for widows, he could nurture the Earth, he could witness… all of them, he could do better than us. Infinitely better than us.

This leads to the question: Why does God do it all? Why does God intentionally aprentice us? The answer to this question is closely connected to the question, Why should we intentionally apprentice others?

It’s the same reasons we make chocolate chip cookies with our kids, rather than do it by ourselves. Because we want to teach them a little something. Because we want to spend time with them. Because doing something with somebody is better than having it done for you, because this action teaches and grows us.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “Intentional Apprenticing and Chocolate Chip Cookies”

  1. “Whatever it is you do to fufill God’s mission on earth, he could do it better. He could play a better guitar. He could preach a better sermon. He could love the fatherless, he could care for widows, he could nurture the Earth, he could witness… all of them, he could do better than us. Infinitely better than us.”

    No, Jeff, I don’t think so, but I DO know what you’re trying to get at by saying this kind of stuff.

    Why no? Because God cannot be compared to us in any way, shape or form. And further, we ARE His playing better guitar, His preaching a better sermon, His love for the fatherless, His care for widows, His nurturing the earth (notice, no capital E), yes, we ARE His witness… And when we know that “between Christ’s first and second coming there’s nobody here but us,” then we ARE His doing everything better than us (as we do when we do things on our own), because as scripture says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

    Get it, brother?

    Interesting post, nonetheless. Bravo, man.


  2. As always, thanks for your keen insight.
    I wonder if we have a theological difference here. Do you believe that biblical-style miracles can occur in this day and age?
    I think that most often, both in biblical times and contemporary ones, that God works through us. For example, if we need to be fed, most of the time, he works through the brave souls that staff or donate to a soup kitchen.
    However, I think it is certainly possible that He could rain manna down from heaven. I believe that God is present when a Pastor preaches a sermon. But I think God could show up speak to us directly, as he did to figures such as Moses and Elijah.
    I think to whatever extent God interfaces with our broken human-ness, the product of whatever we do will be flawed.

    I wonder if you’re emphasis on the lower case “e” for earth is a fear about making an idol of nature. I think that’s legitimate– but from a grammatical stand point, I think if you mean “planet Earth” it gets a capital “E” in the same way that Venus or Mars get a capital V or M. If you mean “dirt” I think it gets a lower case E. Having said all that, I find myself wondering if the “t” in “The” is supposed to be capitalized in this case… At any rate, this is all a bit irrelevant, and grammar is far from a strong suit for me.


  3. May I opine?

    All miracles reported in the Bible are bona fide miracles.
    Few miracles reported in the hagiography of Catholic and Orthodox saints are bona fide miracles.

    The kind of miracle stories I have heard just recently from my “co-religionists” such as the bi-location of a living holy elder, etc., I take to be hogwash and the frightful fantasies of women.

    But yes, God can intervene, and often does, in all times and places with miracles, actions outside of the realm of nature, but none of them are pointless displays just for the heck of it.

    Also, in acting miraculously on behalf of mankind, God is no respecter of either men or religions. He can and does act in miraculous ways for Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus and Buddhists, even though they may not know Him.

    You wrote, “However, I think it is certainly possible that He could rain manna down from heaven.”
    No, the possibility is extremely remote. God never repeates Himself.

    “I believe that God is present when a Pastor preaches a sermon.”
    Yes, but no more and no less than He is present when you or I are eating a ham sandwich and reading C. S. Lewis, or the Sunday funnies. Of course, if you mean that a pastor preaches with God’s special (even miraculous) inspiration, I respond, probably not if he’s worked very hard to get his point across—but there is a strong possibility that, if he preaches in the presence of Christ, saying nothing but what he hears the Lord saying, without artifice, without elaboration, not believing in his own wisdom, then yes, what he speaks will likely be from the Lord Himself. “My sheep know My voice.”

    “But I think God could show up [to] speak to us directly, as he did to figures such as Moses and Elijah.”
    No, the possibility is so nearly nothing, that I wouldn’t even mention it. He has said everything that He ever wanted to say to us, and that is what is written in the Good Book. If that’s not good enough for us, is it likely He would make a special pre-millenial side trip to earth to tell us something? To answer yes to this question is to open the gate to a landslide of satanic delusion such as we have seen in the false visions and consequent blasphemous doctrines of Roman Catholicism and other angelolators.

    “I think to whatever extent God interfaces with our broken human-ness, the product of whatever we do will be flawed.” Not necessarily, because you are thinking again here of subjecting things to some kind of standard. We cannot know God’s fullest intentions in anything that He accomplishes through us poor, sinful and unprofitable servants, and yet He does choose to use us. It is not ours to judge either ourselves or others. It is His to tell us what was right and what was wrong in our actions, if He even chooses to.

    Oh, and about the little e versus the capital in the word “earth”. Yes, you are right, I object to the capital E when speaking in the context of spirituality, because creeping greenery has already infected mainline Christianity, making earth into a quasi-goddess. Even the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople has fallen for it and is promoting it, all within the context of Orthodoxy. But everyone on our side of the wicket knows that he’s just capitalizing on the ecology movement to try to win souls for, not Christ, but the Orthodox Church. Bah! Little has come of it, except the influx, a trickle really, of the metrosexuals I wrote about in another comment. They like Orthodoxy because of the traditions, but as for Christ, do they even know who He is? “You cannot see the Kingdom of God unless you are born from above, of water and the Spirit.” But yes, that’s why I changed the e in earth to lowercase. You are, however, correct in your other observations about capitalization. Earth is a planet, and earth is mud. But as for me, to write Earth with a capital E is reserved to using the word as the name of the planet we live on, also called Tellus.

    It’s been fun dialoging with you, brother. Hope you’re having a peaceful evening.


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