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Chapter 7: Apprenticeship - The Better Way

A Full Reward: Reformation Through Family-Run Christian Schools

Rev. Aaron Slack

Pastor, Author, Marketing Manager, Preschool Director

Chapter 7

Apprenticeship: The Better Way

The Road Less Traveled

This chapter is about the very antithesis of the path most people take in an attempt to obtain success. This is apprenticeship, specifically apprenticeship with Grace Community School. Before you can begin an apprenticeship, you first need to find what God wants for your life. There is little reward in laboring for years in frustration attempting to do something God does not want you to do. In my case, I found out that God’s will for my life was right in front of me. Your journey may take longer, but once you do find what God wants you to do, you need to do it. Perhaps this book has helped you to hear the Holy Spirit’s will for your life. Maybe your life has been a series of detours and dead-end roads. It’s not too late to get back on the right track.

The Importance of a Calling

One of my favorite verses is “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psa. 127:1a). Vain labor is a terrible thing! Have you ever worked extremely hard at something only to find that your work was wasted? I know I have. Writing a long report can be difficult, but it is nothing compared to writing a long report only to have the computer lose it, then having to write it again. Your work was in vain.

I remember a math homework assignment I had when I was in the second grade (my last year in public school)—a page of challenging problems. I was very proud of my good grades and determined to get every math problem on the page correct. As soon as I got home, I went right to work. I sat down at my desk and worked and worked, and then when I had them all done, I double-checked my answers. I went to play only when I was sure of my efforts. In the morning I got up, grabbed my backpack, and went off to school excitedly. I could barely wait until math time, when I could show off my skills. When it came time to turn in homework, I discovered to my horror that I had forgotten my math page at home on my desk. I could do nothing but tell my teacher sheepishly that I had left it at home. Later I wondered to myself why God would allow something like that to happen. Now I think I know. I try to take advantage of these times to remind myself of the truth contained in Psalm 127. No matter how smart you are, how talented, how diligent and hard-working, if God is not on your side, all the labor in the world is for naught. Work must be blessed by God to be productive.

While it is extremely important to be a hard worker, it is far from being the only thing. I have seen some extremely hard workers—many people are. Some of the hardest workers I have come across seem to have the most difficult lives. They just don’t seem to be able to get ahead. They labor and they labor, but their work is in vain.

Many of these hard workers don’t know it, but they are thieves! Their work does not produce. It is not enough to be willing to work, you need a calling. Work done without a calling is unproductive—even destructive. When an employee starts work at one of my schools, it usually becomes evident fairly quickly whether or not that person has been called to the work he is doing. The man who works without a calling not only steals from others, he steals from himself! “I work so hard!” is the common refrain. Again: work, “hard” or otherwise, must be blessed by God to be rewarded.

The dictionary defines a calling as “a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.” This is close to the truth, but it falls short of the biblical definition. A true calling always comes from God. You may feel it as an “inner impulse,” but the calling comes from without. It is more than divine influence, it is a command from the King. To ignore the King’s command is to face unhappiness and destruction. Most people do not even hear God’s calling for them. To hear this command, you must have the Holy Spirit.

I need to explain something. Too many in the church today limit a “calling” to a vocation within the institutional church. This is incorrect. All work done to the glory of God is holy in His eyes. This is part of our heritage from the Reformation. I will have more about this later, but the key point is this: every calling from God is holy, whether you are called to be a ditch digger or a doctor.

Alas, many people do not care. Rebellion against calling is extremely prevalent. It saddens me when I see people today, moving from one dead end job to another. What is the problem? What I have observed is that most of the jobs people work at are not bad jobs in particular. The problem is that the people working do not have the self-discipline to dedicate themselves to their work! They have a job, but no calling. Everything is about some (in all likelihood) imaginary job they would like to have down the road. Anything else is seen as a stepping stone at best, not worthy of too much effort. Most people never really live in the real world; they live in their own fantasy land, and not very well. They substitute a fake for the genuine article. They rob themselves of reward both now and in eternity.

How long does it really take to work your way up from an entry level job at say, a supermarket or pharmacy, to a manager level position? It does not take very long. I have talked with people who have achieved this kind of success. They have all agreed on one point—those who work reliably at the same place of employment for long enough, demonstrating self-discipline and trustworthiness, eventually become the boss. Woody Allen said, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.” The problem is that most people do not show up! They work unreliably for a year or two one place, then switch to a different job, often in an entirely unrelated field. Eventually their resume looks like a “Battleship” game board, but they never quite manage to sink that ship. Other people stay at the same job, but never truly devote themselves to the job. The result is the same.

I have discussed in the previous chapter the folly of college as a means to success, but even those people who escape this pitfall wind up chasing diversions instead of doing what is at their right hand to do. I frequently see people with good full-time jobs trying to sell Amway, Mary Kay, healthcare products, scented candles, and the like. Ostensibly supplementing their main income, they rebel against their God-given calling in favor of frivolous work they would rather do instead. While people will make endless excuses, blaming “the economy,” our elected officials, or a million other things for their failures, they neglect to place the blame where it belongs: on themselves. For Christians, it is high time to take responsibility.

Calling and Dominion

It is very important for the Christian to realize that for God’s kingdom to grow, we must take dominion. God has given this world to His people. Dominion is God’s people taking charge as He ordered. When God’s people are faithful, God places them in control. To do this you need to find your calling. Calling is everything.

The man who succeeds in his calling achieves Godly dominion. How is dominion measured? Money isn’t a bad metric. A plumber who cannot make money at plumbing is likely not a very good plumber. At any rate, he is not blessed by God. A good plumber, lawfully working at his calling to the glory of God, will make money. He will likely make more money than his competitors, who will envy and despise him, unable to see the true reason for his success. We learn a trade because this enables us to make money, and money is a big part of dominion. Dominion means you own and control private property. Do you want to help people? Be successful! A failed, poor Christian cannot help people like a wealthy man can. As the saying goes, you don’t ask a poor man for a job.

The calling of educator, and Christian educator in particular, is popularly and historically associated with sacrifice, low-pay, and all-but-starvation. Grace Community School is more than a stab at something better. “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” We have managers who work at Grace Community School who have even paid off their houses. I am close to doing so myself. In an era when the average middle-class family lives paycheck to paycheck, barely able to stay afloat in the midst of mortgage and credit card debt, our families each have tens of thousands of dollars saved and in investments. At the same time we have large numbers of children. We are not your average full-time Christian ministry.

The pauper missionary reduced to begging for every need is in a poor position to impact and control society. Nowhere in Scripture is poverty held as an ideal for Christians to aim at. In fact, money (and property) in Scripture is often portrayed as a measure of a man’s blessing. If your calling does not provide material blessings, you may need to ask yourself whether that is your true calling.

While you can often seem to achieve success in a given field by just showing up often enough and long enough, finding out what God has called you to do is important. God calls us away from the fantasy worlds of our own creation to His reality. We seek a full reward from God, both materially and spiritually (the dichotomy between the two is a false one), and for that we need to be doing the work God wills us to do. If your calling is to be the manager of a Walgreens, then you should do that with all your ability and energy. Do you feel that Christian education is your calling? If so, then it is time to make it your trade. Let me show you how.

A Fair Trade

There is an old Jewish proverb, which I became familiar with through the works of R. J. Rushdoony and my pastor’s preaching: “He who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to steal.” Well said! A trade is what we practice in order to exercise our calling and achieve dominion.

Very few people ever learn a trade. What they learn during their career is at best a few specialized jobs—a few pieces of the puzzle. The man with a trade has all the pieces properly assembled. A man with a trade could quit or be fired from his job and still manage to make a living somewhere else, because he possesses the complete set of skills needed; he has a trade. The job can be taken away, but not the skills and discipline the trade comprises.

What does this have to do with apprenticeship? Surely there are many ways to accomplish what I am describing. Perhaps, but I can think of no better way than apprenticeship—learning a trade by doing it. Learning a trade essentially consists of learning many overlapping jobs—some small, some big. Apprenticeship is the best way to do this. The trade of teacher and childcare center operator is extremely practical and material, and it requires skill in performing many jobs. Let me assure you that what I do every day is extremely concrete. As workers in a small business, we can’t afford to be too specialized. The trade of Christian daycare operator encompasses quite a bit—in addition to teaching and administration, I do everything from IT work, writing, video editing, and managing our maintenance personnel. We know more about our center management software and office computer networks than our tech support people. It’s amazing how good you can get at something with a few years experience. We even do our annual school yearbook and school website in house. These are all very concrete duties—abstract doesn’t enter into it.

In Exodus 31, the Bible tells us how the Holy Spirit filled the craftsmen who would be needed to build the tabernacle and its furnishings. What is interesting is that the gifts given to the craftsmen were not mystical, spiritual powers, but actual skills needed in the construction project! There is a very important lesson here for Christians. God is deeply, personally interested in the physical things of this world. This neglected doctrine makes people very uncomfortable. People would like to shut God into church and keep Him there; they want God to stay wherever they put Him.

The reality is that Jesus doesn’t just monitor your prayer life. He also watches how you do the “mundane” everyday tasks at your job and in your home. He watches how you deal with people every day, and, as concerning us, how we do the trade of Christian teacher and school operator. A Christian called to a particular trade should be good at what he does. What would Jesus do? He would do what His Father called Him to do—as must we—and do it well to the glory of God. This is what we at Grace Community School strive for.

While we at Grace Community School try to be good at as many things as we can, no one can be good at everything, or even at every job that a successful Christian preschool requires. Everyone has their own God-given aptitudes and gifts. No one person can do all the things required to run a Christian school. This is one of the reasons we prefer for our facilities to be operated by married couples, and why our older children are such a blessing to us.

Apprenticeship is Preparation for Real Life

Grace Community School seeks young men and women who are ready to work and willing to learn. Separating yourself from the fantasy world of your own imagining and gathering all the skills needed to succeed in reality can be a long and difficult task. For those attempting to learn the trade of Christian education, Grace Community School is here to help.

Our society still has something resembling apprenticeship in the practice of “internship.” While interns are often unpaid, Grace Community School apprentices are paid well and receive benefits like free housing. Our apprentices are an important part of our team effort. You will have the assurance that you are doing something important, and that your time is not wasted. This is a real ministry with very real results.

Grace Community School’s apprenticeship program is designed to be a three-year program. There are plenty of three-year programs out there, but you will not find one like ours. How many successful businesses are willing to help you gain all their “secrets” and train you to succeed in their industry? More than that, we will give you a highly discounted price on both our curricula and manual. I can’t think of a better way for a young person to spend three years. You might be able to get a traditional college degree in three years, but why would you want to? At the end of our three years, you will have a trade instead of an expensive piece of paper.

Even if you have started down a dead-end road, it is not too late to make a fresh start. We welcome young single men and women, as well as young married couples. We provide our apprentices wages, paid holidays and vacations, and health benefits. Grace Community School apprentices also get free housing—single men with other single male apprentices, single women with other single female apprentices. Married couples are housed in single family homes. Couples with children receive free tuition for their children to attend Grace Community School.

Perhaps you are an older parent interested in our apprenticeship program for one of your children. We are happy to assist. More information about our apprenticeship program, including more apprentice testimonials and success stories, can be found at www.gcsapprenticeship.com.

The Importance of Papers

As much as I have disparaged traditional college earlier in this book, you might get the idea that I am all-together against accreditation and higher learning. Not so! I myself have a bachelors and masters degree, as well as a director’s credential and lots and lots of other impressive-sounding accreditations and certificates hanging on my wall. While these credentials are important because I need them to do my job, my real education has been through the apprenticeship program I went through.

In our modern age, the myth of certification and accreditation has conquered to such an extent that it would be impossible for me to fulfill my calling in early childhood education without these important papers. It is a small but necessary price for me to pay so that I may work in my mission field. Even Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went through Nebuchadnezzar’s training program and earned their state certification when they had to.

Dr. McIntyre has worked out a better way to obtain the documents our apprentices need. Accreditation is part of the apprenticeship package. We use Patriot Bible University. Grace Community School pays for its apprentices’ enrollment and tuition, and three years is more than enough time for the dedicated individual to obtain a bachelors degree. Even better than its being free is that you don’t have to go off and leave life for years to get your diploma. Work at your own pace, and get a nationally-recognized college degree. Most people working through college have to settle for any available job. You will earn a full paycheck from Grace Community School while going through school. Important as it is, the degree is just a means to an end: being a missionary to children in the community.

The Masters and the Apprentice

As Grace Community School apprentices, you will have the opportunity to receive training from those who have mastered the trade of operating a successful Christian preschool. All of your questions will be answered. Our job is to train you; we will show you all the ropes. This training will be comprehensive, and as as it is “on-the-job,” it will emphasize the practical skills you need to succeed in the field of Christian early childhood education, and owning and operating a Christian school. Unlike an internship, Grace Community School pays a good wage along with free housing and health insurance.

Don’t know much, or anything, about phonics? This is not a handicap by any means. You will be taught the A Beka phonics program and how to implement it in a classroom the best way—by teaching phonics to children yourself. Just as important as teaching is classroom management—you can’t teach in a classroom that is not under control (trust me, I’ve tried!). You will also learn the administrative side of operating a Christian school. This includes how to operate the school office, manage personnel, and keep the school in good running order. Being able to comply with accreditation standards is another important topic you will learn.

A crucial skill is dealing with people—both employees of the school and the parents, grandparents, and guardians who come through our doors every day. The importance of parent-teacher relations cannot be over-stressed, and it does not come easily for everyone. Parent relations can make or break a school. You will receive extensive training on this. The people who will train you are people who have been apprentices in the past—they remember what it was like to be doing something new. Throughout all this, your greatest asset will be self-discipline. Just as our students learn self-discipline through the work that they do, so will you. The work will be hard, but rewarding.

You will be active participants in our ministry. Qualified apprentices will be licensed to preach. The most important duty of these preachers is to teach Bible to our students. You will receive training in this. Those who do well will be ordained.

As an apprentice, you will attend our church, Nicene Covenant Church. The church instructs our apprentices, missionaries, and preachers. This is where we receive our “marching orders.”

Religious study is important—and our apprentices get plenty of that. Typical theology is abstract and speculative. You won’t find that here—contemplators of the antelapsarian navel need not apply. The difference between our studies and those of the typical church or seminary is that ours will actually prepare you for real life living. It is fitting that a very material and concrete ministry such as ours studies a very material and concrete theologian, Rousas John Rushdoony. Our apprentices study his works in detail. I assure you that the education they receive is the full equivalent of a seminary education (I am being charitable here towards seminary). Some of the works of Rushdoony covered are The Institutes of Biblical Law vol.1, Sovereignty, The Cure of Souls, Systematic Theology vols. 1 & 2, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Romans and Galatians, and Chariots of Fire.

Portions of these books are assigned for reading weekly. Comprehension exams follow. Patriot Bible University transfers these reading assignments into college credits. This is time very well-spent. After our apprentices attain their college degrees, these study courses accrue graduate-level seminary credit on their Patriot Bible University transcript. Try getting that at your average church!

Marriage as an Asset

Are you married? We are always looking for dedicated apprentice couples. In fact, we like married couples running our schools whenever possible. There are many reasons for this. By utilizing couples as much as possible in our ministry, we provide healthy role models of both genders, and we show the children a good example of a healthy husband and wife relationship.

The male is particularly important, as proper male role models are missing from most homes of the families we serve. Daddy (loosely defined), if he is actually around at all, is there intermittently and rarely displays proper male behavior, to put it mildly.

When couples enroll in our apprenticeship program, both husband and wife receive training in teaching and school operation. The modern practice of the man and the woman having vastly different occupations is not the biblical model—a mutual calling is far better! We have created a ministry in which families can have large numbers of children without the mother having to be a “stay-at-home mom.” Husband and wife work together along with their children. This brings us to another very practical reason for what we do.

It is no secret that there is—to use a clichéd word—an “epidemic” of failed marriages in our society. This epidemic extends to Christians and those in the church. There is one thing the homosexual movement and I agree on—homosexual “marriage” does not threaten my marriage or anyone else’s. We do just fine on that count by ourselves! Why do divorces occur? Almost always, sexual sin is the cause. While unpublicized by the media, it is also the explanation for many or most homicides. Sin has horrible consequences. It is our duty as Christian families to avoid this at all cost. The man or woman who is not afraid of falling into sexual sin is a fool, the Bible says (particularly in Proverbs). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). We are to run as far away as possible from fornication. When married couples work together, like at Grace Community School, the risk of adultery is far, far, lower. Sadly, many married couples are not on good enough terms to work together. This, however, is a prerequisite for you to succeed with the Grace Community School model.

The Money-Making Potential of the Grace Community Model

It is one of my theses in this book that a biblical calling will enable the blessed of God to make a good living. While money is not the only consideration in choosing a career, it should be a major one. A person intent on raising a large family and taking godly dominion needs to have sufficient funds to do so.

I saw a vehicle window sticker recently parodying the other sticker sets you see with the stick figure parents, and then all the little stick figure kids and maybe even a stick figure pet. (I would like to see our manager family the Harrisons do that for their eleven children!) This farcical sticker set had two parents next to a big cartoon bag of money. The message was clear: kids will make you poor.

Cute, but this is not the biblical model. This sticker perfectly captures the selfish modern mindset. The Christian family is to be wealthy precisely because it has been given the task of enlarging itself and impacting society (Gen. 1:28). That takes money. Children cost a lot, but we are commanded to have as many as possible. God’s preferred method of evangelism is the family, remember? God, however, says it is possible to have both a large family and a large bank account. We do not seek money for its own sake, but for the sake of what God has called us to do. In a society as heavily taxed and oppressed as modern America, even more money is needed. God does not want us to just “make ends meet.” He wants us to have some serious capital to build His kingdom.

As Dr. Ellsworth McIntyre (remember the title of his book), I, and the others who labor alongside me at our ministry have shown, there is great financial reward to be had in the Christian preschool field. Those who have successfully learned the ins and outs of the Grace Community School system have gone on to found financially successful schools (businesses). As I will discuss later, for a Christian school to thrive it must be run as a business, not a charity. Furthermore there should be no shame or guilt in this fact.

God commands us to lay up an inheritance for our children’s children (Prov. 13:22). He is not talking about a purely spiritual inheritance! One of the most important things about a GCS apprenticeship is that it gives you the skills and tools needed to follow this command. God’s people are to be wealthy, spiritually and materially; to seek otherwise is to deny the faith.

The Grace Community School Manual

Not everyone is an entrepreneur, or a brilliant inventor. Your gifts may lie in another area. That’s OK! The genius of the Grace Community model is that it can be done by anyone who is able to follow directions. I’m not an entrepreneur or an innovator, but I can follow instructions. With the Grace Community School model, you will reap the benefits of an entrepreneur-designed system, designed to be as simple as possible. Follow the steps to the letter, and with God’s blessing you will succeed.

Where will these directions come from? This is where our manual and curriculum come in. These materials are the “how to” books you need to excel with the Grace Community School system. The Grace Community School Operations Manual is the ultimate Christian preschool reference guide. It has employee job descriptions, office document templates, and above all, procedures for how we do everything from teaching to administration to cleaning bathrooms. The manual is intended to be used alongside its counterpart, our curriculum.

Rev. Jeremy Walker has designed the Grace Community School curriculum based on the combined experience—literally decades of experience—he and Grace Community School have in the field of early childhood education. It includes lesson plans for teachers, classroom material resources, and detailed step-by-step, week-by-week information—everything the Christian school teacher needs to teach successfully. Teach with confidence knowing that the GCS system has over twenty-five years of proven success behind it.

As comprehensive and lucid as our manual and curricula are, I cannot overstate the importance of being properly trained and getting actual on-the-job experience. Reading a book about something and actually doing it can be very different things. Think of the manual as a comprehensive reference guide to help you do what you have been trained to do. You will benefit immensely from a three-year apprenticeship with Grace Community School. Grace Community School apprentices also receive a substantial discount off of the price of the manual and curriculum.


Is God leading you towards a career in Christian education? If so, and you want to make a difference—a real difference—in the lives of children and their families while at the same time providing for your family, Grace Community School may be for you. Has what you have read so far excited you? That’s a good sign. Perhaps God is leading you in our direction. I found God’s leading inexorable. The Grace Community School apprenticeship program changed my life and led me to my mate. I decided to stay on permanently. One thing is certain: you never know what the Lord has planned for you.

The lessons you will learn in our program will last a lifetime, and you just might find yourself receiving blessings beyond your greatest imagining, as I have. For young people in particular, I cannot think of a better way to spend a few years time. Pray about it, and let the Holy Spirit guide you. You have a lifetime of reward to gain!