Last week we began a series entitled Four Roles of a Small Group Leader. This is the second post in this series, Small Group Leader as Shepherd. For the rest of the articles, you can search “Small Groups” in the categories on the right hand column of the blog.
Four Roles of a Small Group Leader
1. Facilitator – Meetings
2. Shepherd – Care
3. Mentor – Training
4. Leader – Vision
As a shepherd, the leader ensures that all the members of the group are cared for. In a world where virtual connections are more common than personal connection, the leader needs to take a personal approach.
As we take the necessary steps to care for people, here are three important things to keep in mind.
1. Aspects of care
Without fail, we need to provide care in three important aspects of the person’s life. These areas are vital to the person’s overall health, which affects how one relates to the rest of the group. The person’s emotional, spiritual, and physical needs can be cared for so as to bring balance to the person’s life. Keep in mind that the care that you and the small group gives is not the primary care. There are others in their lives who are to give the primary care, and yours is a supplementary role.
Weekly meetings and some contact outside the group meetings will provide some support for the emotions of people. Many are lonely and looking for meaningful connections. The members of the small group can be a means for healthy and meaningful connections.
The spiritual life of each person is both personal and corporate. The motivation to connect with God and His people contribute greatly to the spiritual health of the individual. Outreach done through the Group and individually will be vital to the spiritual development of each member.
When people go through crisis or when there are some common needs, the Group can reach out in care to provide for the person or members of the group who are in need. Certainly the Small Group cannot provide all the person’s needs, but in special cases where there are urgent needs, people can reach out and help others.
2. Levels of Care
As the Small Group functions as a relational “body,” care can be provided at two levels.
Leader to Member
The leader can take the responsibility to reach out to each member on a weekly basis. This point of contact will be a motivation for the person to reach out to the other members as well. The leader can also interact with the people at a more personal level much beyond the meetings.
Among Members (Mutual care)
When the members relate with each other outside of the weekly meetings, that is a clear indicator of a group that is growing healthy. When needs are shared and mutual care is given, meaningful relationships are enhanced.
3. Medium of care
In order of importance, here are some ways to care for people. Try to do at least one of these each week.
This may be the most difficult one to pull off, and the most meaningful one too. The personal visit could be at their workplace during their break times (if that is appropriate) or to their home.
I see this as a great approach. If I can’t get through, I make sure to leave a brief voicemail if possible.
Email, text message, and other means of communication can also work, but I prefer the phone call whenever possible.
The leader as the Shepherd provides care, but more importantly ensures that care is given. In other words, make sure to develop a culture of mutual care among the members. Of Course, this begins with the leader.