On September 1, we gathered the leaders of First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, for an information meeting. We wanted to make sure we were all on the same page as we move into our fall season of ministry. Among the topics we discussed was our strategy and method for shepherding the flock at FCBC.
Our goal is that everyone who attends First Central will feel cared for and encouraged. Our first line of defense are those who lead and teach our Sunday School classes, small group Bible studies, and lead our various ministry teams. Each leader/teacher will care for those in their respective class, group, or team. If necessary, they will develop a team of leaders within their respective class or ministry to help carry the load. The second line of defense is formed by our deacons and deaconesses. They will focus on those who are not connected to a class, small group, or ministry team. That will help ensure that no one slips through the cracks.
We developed a chart to visually demonstrate what we trying to do. We are tried to anticipate and answer the questions that would be asked about the purpose and mechanics. Both the chart and the FAQ sheet can be downloaded as a pdf file.
The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Shepherding
- Why don’t the deacons maintain a shepherding list like we did previously?
- As the deacons and elders evaluated that approach, they realized it did not work as it put too much responsibility on a small group of people.
- Because the New Testament emphasizes a “one another” ministry, we realized that all of us should be involved in caring for each other, not one group doing all the work.
- What will this new approach accomplish?
- Our goal is that each person who attends FCBC will feel cared for and encouraged.
- This approach takes advantage of people’s current relationships established in their classes and small groups. The leader closest to them and who knows them well can provide the best care.
- With the first line of care being SS teachers, small group leaders, and ministry leaders caring for those in their respective classes, groups, and teams, the deacons and deaconesses can then focus on those unconnected to ensure that no one slips through the cracks.
- Is there a list of who is connected and who is not?
- The short answer is “Yes.”
- The longer answer is that we asked each class, small group, ministry team, etc., to give the office a list of those in their respective group that we could enter into the database. We were then able to identify who was not connected to any group. We then identified who was no longer at the church or who should have been listed in a class/group. That helped us identify those who are on the fringe.
- I am a _____ (Sunday School teacher, youth leader, small group leader, ministry team leader), how do I shepherd my class, group, team, etc?
- Get to know your students and their respective lives, family situation, work, challenges, prayer requests, etc.
- Make regular personal contact outside of class time to see how they are doing. Use phone, email, postcard, IM, text message, etc., to touch base with them.
- Form a class leadership team to help spread out the responsibility of caring for your class.
- Regularly pray for your class by name.
- This sounds like a lot of work, is it?
- It depends on the type of group you have and the size of the group. Most people will appreciate you reaching out to them a couple of times a year, others may need more touches.
- Asking a person or two to become part of a leadership team and to share this ministry will help to make it happen.
- What if I find a “Big” problem? Who do I go talk to about it?
- If you are leading an Adult Sunday School class or small group Bible study, talk to Chris Ames, who oversees adult SS and small groups.
- If you are leading a children’s class, talk to Robin Dolbow, our Director of Children’s Ministry.
- If you are leading one of the women’s Bible studies, talk to Carol Wheeler who oversees the studies.
- If you are leading a ministry team, talk to one of the elders, and they can help determine what to do next.
- What if someone comes to me with an issue or complaint, but they are not connected anywhere?
- Ask God, What do you want me to be personally to help the individual?
- Talk to one of the deacons or deaconesses, and they can determine how best to proceed.
- Encourage the person to get involved in a class or small group.
- What if someone wants to complain about a person, issue, or ministry?
- Encourage them to follow the pattern in Matthew 18:15-17.
- Go to the person who offended them and talk to them directly.
- If that doesn’t work, go back and take a second person with them.
- If that doesn’t work, talk to the elders.
- Ask the person, “Have you talked to the person who you are upset with?” If they say, “No,” then politely tell them you cannot listen to their complaint until they follow Matthew 18:15-17. Stop the gossip before it begins.