From 2005 to 2009, the Reverend Dr. James Bryan Smith—teaching pastor at Chapel Hill
from the very beginning—began field testing, in Sunday School classes, what would become
the Apprentice Series of books: The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life,
and The Good and Beautiful Community. It was during these years that Dr. Smith took 4
groups of 25 people, over the course of four years—ultimately 100 people from Chapel
Hill— through this book series. This field-testing had a big impact on the people who went
through the courses, as well on the books themselves. The books, published in 2009, 2010,
and 2011 respectively, have been translated into over a dozen languages, and are used all
over the world as a “curriculum for Christlikeness.”

The Good and Beautiful series would prove to be a new paradigm for Christian
Spiritual Formation. The focus on Narratives, combined with a therapeutic approach to the
spiritual disciplines, within the context of an accountable community, became a formula for
formation that is now used in many churches, colleges and seminaries. This approach has
also been instrumental in the discipleship program at Chapel Hill UMC. Part of the
uniqueness of Chapel Hill is the combination of “a message of grace, and a method of
discipleship,” and the Apprentice Series is a key component of that method of discipleship.