Job Description: Care and protect a flock of stinky, undisciplined, ungrateful and stubborn sheep. Must be willing to risk life and limbs to keep all sheep in your care alive and healthy. May face dangers from outside forces that are stronger than you. Experience not required, but every little bit helps. Hooves-on training provided. Long hours may be required and you may have to sacrifice sleep to make sure the flock survive through the night. A good shepherd will lead his/her flock beside quiet waters and to green grass for grazing. Pay: Not much.
Wow. And you thought the job of recruiting Sunday School teachers was hard on the chairman of the Nominating Committee. Imagine being the Human Resource Director for Shepherds-R-Us!
Shepherding is one of the 3 roles of guiding great groups, and as a long time Sunday School teacher in my church, I have to admit, shepherding is not among my natural gifts. I have to remind myself weekly about the importance of caring for the members of my class. If I were to get honest with you, I personally have felt the negative effects on a healthy class when we neglect this area of group leadership. When I first accepted the role of teacher for the class I currently teach (4 years ago), we averaged great numbers of regular attenders and guests every week. I would frequently hear gracious comments about how much the members enjoyed the week by week bible studies. Content was king and we had great content. However, the busyness of my job responsibilities with the State Convention, and the frequency of my having to travel out of town during the week made contacting every member every week very cumbersome. Over time, that responsibility went by the wayside, sacrificed for the promise of great content week by week. Did it work? Not hardly. After several months, class numbers started to plateau, then steadily decline. The only thing that changed was I failed to make a priority to follow-up with every guest and member every week. I fell victim of following bad practices that I made people who attended my Sunday School training clinics promise that they would never do. I failed to practice what I preached.
Then it hit me. I am not supposed to do it all. I needed to develop care teams and care group leaders within my class to do the work of spiritual and emotional care for the members and guests. Those leaders are to be assigned 5-7 members and guests to follow-up with during the week between class sessions. Every member would be contacted every week and prayed for, ministered to, needs discovered and life transformation would be celebrated. Then when we gathered again as a class, reports would be given and even more celebration continued.
If we do the job of recruiting shepherds within our class to share the load of emotional and spiritual care of our members, we will see spiritual transformation take place within our classes. We can’t do it alone, and if we try, it will only lead to frustration. Sheep are still messy and is the job of shepherding can get dirty, but when we share the load, the entire class is transformed.
Strengthening Churches Missionary
Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention