As I said in Shepherding Ruts, the point of shepherding is intentional care. What evidence might we gather that shepherding is taking place? How can we tell that shepherding is making a difference?
I agree with David Francis when he mentions “active enrollment” as a result. As care becomes intentional, fewer people drop out. When they are absent, they are missed. When a need is discovered, the group mobilizes to care. As a result, those attending during the month increases.
Along with an increase in active enrollment, there are some other important shepherding results. Consider a few of those results:
- As attendance frequency increases, signs become evident of spiritual progress (discipleship), such as Bible reading and prayer, conversations about God, focus on others, etc.
- An increase in friendships and concern for group members.
- An increase in willingness to respond in times of group member need.
- Trust deepens leading to greater openness to share real needs and struggles with the group.
- Affinities become better known leading to connections with prospects through those affinities.
- Celebration and encouragement become normal in relationships.
Shepherding is vital. Without intentional care, relationships deteriorate impacting nearly every aspect of Sunday School. Participation and attendance decreases, ministry is neglected, and Bible study sessions become less meaningful.
What can you do this week to set an example in shepherding? What can you do to equip the saints (group members) to be better shepherds? Open your eyes this week to measures of intentional care in your class. Assess and adjust your practices to give God your best effort in the month ahead!
Darryl Wilson serves as Sunday School & Discipleship Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He served as Minister of Education in five churches in Kentucky and South Carolina and is the author of The Sunday School Revolutionary!, a blog about life-changing Sunday School and small groups.