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Apprenticeship vs. Traditional College

Rev. Aaron Slack

Lost in Space

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I thought that I did. It changed from time-to-time but mostly centered around something in the fields of science and engineering. By the time I was about twelve through my teen years, I was determined to become an aerospace engineer. I wanted to fly space probes. To my teenage self, this was the most exciting and reward occupation I could think of. It turns out I was suffering from a great failure of imagination.

Fortunately, God had better things in mind. I was set in my plans, and those plans were going to involve a whole lot of secular, traditional college. There’s a whole story here which you can read more about in my book A Full Reward, but essentially over a very short period God convinced me that my true calling was in the field of Christian early childhood education, specifically with an apprenticeship at Grace Community School.

Now I’m thirty-three years old, my wife Amy and I have six children, and we live in Fort Myers running the Grace Community School there. We own our home, which is paid off, and we have no debt. Every day I teach the Bible to more than two hundred students and make a very comfortable living. I can homeschool our six children right in the school with me, and our entire family engages in a joint family calling evangelizing local kids from mostly broken homes and poor backgrounds. Grace Community School has made this possible, and it’s all been without traditional college.

I called my book A Full Reward because I wanted to help others find their calling, especially if that was calling was to be a Christian educator. I wanted to show people the best way to earn reward from God here in this physical world and also in the world to come. As St. Paul said, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (I Corinthians 9:24)

Before you decry me as “anti-college,” allow me to point out that I have two college degrees from Patriot Bible University. What I am against is traditional college. We’ll get to that in a few minutes.

Do You Hear the Calling?

For the rest of this to make sense, you need to understand the doctrine of a biblical calling. 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. It is more than divine influence; it is a command from the King. Most people do not hear God’s calling for them, or they rebel against it.  To hear this command, you must have the Holy Spirit. A biblical calling is not limited to a vocation within the institutional church. Every calling from God is holy, but not all callings are equally rewardable. The calling of Christian school owner/operator is particularly rewardable. Why do I say this? Well, it’s in the Bible. There is a specific promise given concerning those faithful to teach God’s commandments (the primary task of every Christian educator. “…whosoever shall do and teach [the commandments], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Two Big Problems

“Ay, there’s the rub!” – Shakespeare, Hamlet

Even if they know intellectually that they should be looking for and fulfilling their biblical calling, most people run into one of two problems. They either:

(1) Have no idea what their calling is, or they are in rebellion against it chasing dreams or just wasting time.

Or

(2) They are attempting to fulfill their calling through means that are not pleasing to God.

In my case, my calling was right in front of me; I just didn’t know it. The realization that God was calling me to early childhood Christian education and Grace Community School, in particular, came rather suddenly. It was an epiphany. Your next action, before you proceed to the next step, is figuring out what God wants you to do with your life. The answer just might be staring you in the face.

The Revolution

Grace Community School is revolutionizing early childhood Christian education. What I am going to tell you is that we have also revolutionized the field of higher education as it relates to practically preparing people to work in this calling. If you do decide to engage in work like we are doing in the Grace Community School Apprenticeship Program, apprenticeship is the way to go.

I have written before that being a college dropout, or not going to college at all, is nearly a necessity for success . I also thought the topic of traditional college vs. apprenticeship to be important enough to devote two chapters in my book. Before I elaborate on this, let’s meet tonight’s contestants.

Define Your Terms: Traditional College and Apprenticeship

For our purposes, traditional college refers to leaving home after high school and going off to be instructed and live among others for a period of most likely years, with limited contact with your family, spending tens of thousands of dollars you probably don’t have (the amount is steadily increasing), all aimed towards the goal of attaining a piece of paper saying you have met the requirements of an institution of “higher learning,” no real-life work experience necessary.

Apprenticeship is learning a trade by doing it, being instructed by successful practitioners of a particular field and getting paid while you learn and perfect your skills. What’s a trade, you ask?

A Trade and Credentials

In the Grace Community School Apprenticeship Program, you not only will have a job; but you will also learn a trade. Learning a trade is vital because you need a trade to fulfill your calling. You can’t do a without b. Very few people ever really learn a trade. Having a career is not the same as following a trade. In a career, most people only learn a few specialized jobs, but the man who has learned a trade has all the skills and knowledge needed to succeed at his calling. A job can be taken away, but not the skills and discipline that comprise the trade. Along with those skills and discipline, you will also need credentials.

Our trusty dictionary says that a credential is “a qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of a person’s background, typically when used to indicate that they are suitable for something.” In our heavily regulated society, you need credentials to operate a trade and fulfill your calling.

Traditional college and apprenticeship, broadly speaking, are both methods of obtaining credentials, but there are many important differences. College does not teach a trade. The diploma, a piece of paper, is the primary end goal, or worse: the “experience” of having gone to college. While credentials are a requirement, you do not need traditional college to get you the credentials needed to own and operate a Christian school.

The Christian school is an “open door” for those seeking to operate with a minimal amount of state control. You do not need a secular teacher degree or secular college-diploma. A Christian college diploma such as is offered by Patriot Bible University is sufficient. We enroll everyone all GCS apprentices in correspondence classes at Patriot Bible University. We work on our college courses at the same time as working and getting paid here. You don’t need to give up years of your life to get a piece of paper. You can start learning your trade, work and get paid, and complete your college simultaneously. I can assure you that it is far better than the alternative, traditional college.

The Score Card

Let’s break things down.

Traditional College

  • Costs money, lots of money
  • Primarily classroom training
  • Emphasis on theoretical
  • Puts you in debt
  • Sets you up for servitude
  • Gets you credentials to use in a (potential) future job
  • Learn many “skills” not needed for chosen profession
  • Primarily about consumption
  • Courses are taught by people who may or may not (probably not) know how to put into practice what they are teaching
  • Teaching through books and lectures

Contrast this with apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship

  • Pays you money
  • Primarily accomplished by on-the-job training
  • Emphasis on practical
  • Can get you out of debt
  • Sets you up for freedom
  • Gets you credentials while you do the job now
  • Learn the skills you need for your chosen profession
  • Primarily about production
  • Taught by people who make a living putting into practice what they are teaching
  • Teaching through doing

To recap, we have our calling. We learn a trade so we can fulfill our calling. We get credentials so we can legally operate our trade. We do our calling to earn a reward from God. God gives us this reward because we are using our gifts, skills, and capital to take dominion. What’s dominion, you say?

About Dominion

Dominion, in a nutshell, is occupying, working in, and taking control over the spheres of influence God has put us in. These spheres of influence will vary from person to person, but they include areas like family, work, and government. The Christian school owner/operator needs to take dominion in the area of business and education.

Dominion

  • Dominion requires capital and financial independence
  • Capital includes money, and also tools
  • The tools of dominion for the Christian school operator first and foremost include the skills needed to run a Christian school
  • Money is needed to pay employees, purchase buildings and supplies, and pay for things like utilities and other overhead
  • Traditional college depletes your capital; it does not increase it

The Christian with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt and few or no marketable skills is in far less of a position to take dominion compared to the Christian who is debt-free, has money, and has a trade. In other words, he has freedom. Freedom is another misunderstood concept. My favorite working definition of freedom comes from my pastor, Ellsworth McIntyre: “Freedom is the ability to own and control private property.”

[BLOCK QUOTE]”Freedom is the ability to own and control private property.” — Pastor Ellsworth McIntyre

Apprenticeship is about freedom. Still not convinced that apprenticeship is better?

If You Need More Reasons Not to Go to College…

Besides the monetary aspect, here are some more reasons to avoid traditional college like the plague that it is.

More Reasons to Avoid Traditional College

  • The value of a diploma is ever-decreasing
  • Not needed by driven, talented people to achieve success
  • Secular college influences like alcohol and drug abuse
  • Hostility to your faith
  • Rampant promiscuity even in Christian colleges
  • Marxism inherent in even Christian colleges
  • Arminianism in Christian colleges (i. e. the Ten Commandments do not apply to us)
  • Years of your life spent not fulfilling your calling
  • Is revered to the point of being an idol
  • If everyone is doing it, it’s probably not a good idea
  • The sin you will be exposed to and encouraged to participate in will have far-reaching ramifications in your life
  • Is at odds with the values Christian families, especially homeschool and Christian school families try to give their children

The Best Deal

Apprenticeship is good. The Grace Community School Apprenticeship Program is even better.

Benefits of the GCS Apprenticeship Program

  • Salary position, not an unpaid internship
  • Seminary-level theological training
  • Freedom from those who envy your ability to make a living
  • 1-, 2-, and 3-year apprenticeship options
  • Free housing
  • Free college degree from Patriot Bible University
  • Instruction and on-the-job training by expert practitioners of Christian early childhood education
  • Access to materials like the GCS Operations Manual and College Can Begin at 2 Curriculum to assist you in starting/operating a successful Christian school
  • Training includes familiarization with all aspects of operating Christian schools including theological, academic, and practical

Good news: the GCS Apprenticeship Program is looking for qualified, motivated people now to join our program!

Let’s Put it All Together

Fulfilling your personal calling is the way for you to earn your full reward from God. A calling equals freedom. The Grace Community School Apprenticeship Program exists to help people called to the field of Christian early childhood education. We give you all the tools and credentials you need to fulfill that calling, including the credentials you need. Even better, you can get those credentials without participating in traditional college. Apprenticeship can save you from debt; it is the path to financial freedom for hard-working, motivated people. You can start work on your calling NOW and start earning your reward.

Rev. Aaron M. Slack is the manager of a family-run Christian school in Fort Myers, Florida, along with his wife, Amy, and five children. He is the son of a pastor, and has lived in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. He moved to Florida in 1994 and has worked for Grace Community School since 2001. He has a Masters degree in Christian Education from Patriot Bible University. He enjoys computers, science fiction, reading, and coffee. Find out more about the Grace Community School Apprenticeship Program at www.gcsapprenticeship.com