David Francis listed three shepherding requirements for leading Bible study groups: love, constant vigilance, and stewardship. The point of shepherding is intentional care. David shared a couple of ruts: a mechanical response and apathy. Both undercut care and impact a life-changing Sunday School effort.
In addition to those two ruts, there are four additional ruts that group leaders will want to avoid:
- Good intentions: knowing the needs but busyness and distractions eat away available time
- Selfishness: trying to do all the work yourself rather than equipping the saints (Ephesians 4:11-12)
- Priorities: allowing personal choices to supersede carrying out the work of God’s call as a teacher
- Investment: assuming no additional investment is needed in class relationships
What can a Sunday School shepherd do to avoid these ruts? Consider these actions:
- Calendar praying for a few group members by name every day (over the week or month).
- Calendar birthday calls to group members to say hi, express birthday wishes, and pray together.
- Calendar spending time with at least one group member away from church each month.
- Enlist group members to lead the class to develop and maintain meaningful relationships.
- Every Sunday afternoon, prayerfully assess your shepherding effort and adjust where needed.
In other words, make your care intentional. Calendaring efforts address intentions and priorities. Enlistment addresses selfishness. The fifth action helps you avoid the mechanical response that David listed. All of them address apathy.
Where do you need to start? The fifth action is a great place to begin. Take steps this week to be the shepherd of God’s sheep that He needs you to be. Give Him and them your best effort. He and they deserve no less!
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.