Have you ever made a commitment to something which turned out to be different than what was originally asked of you? I imagine many Bible Study leaders signed up for the job thinking it was only about preparing a weekly lesson, only to discover they were expected to shepherd and care for the group entrusted to them. You may find that care comes naturally or that it is a learned skill. Either way, God has entrusted a group of people to your care. Here are three tips to shepherd your class well.
Keep shepherding your class as a main focus. You may have a personality that loves the process of studying for your lesson and teaching. The process of care for your class may be naturally low on your priority list which means you’ll need to work hard to stay consistent on caring for group members. Or perhaps you get very excited when your attendance is high for your class, and you have a full room. Let me share a secret with you: people will show up to your class when they feel known, loved, and cared for. The opposite is also true. Your group members will stop attending if they perceive that you (or the rest of the class) do not care for them.
You don’t have to provide all the care, but you always need to model care. Develop a leader in your class who will be responsible for making sure people are cared for—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. At the same time, never view yourself as above the act of care for your members. You may not follow up personally on every need that comes up, but make sure you are meeting some of those needs yourself. The rest of your class will learn how to better care for each other when they see you serving as a model.
Develop a system for care in your Bible Study class. I know that a “system” may not sound like a caring thing to implement. However, care systems help you avoid people falling through the cracks. Teach everyone in the class your care group model. Care groups divide your larger class into manageable sizes of no more than 6-8 people. These care groups can be utilized for prayer time during your class meetings as well as for contacting people throughout the week. Encourage these groups to vary their contact methods through elements such as phone calls, handwritten notes, personal text messages, or even home visits.
Care and shepherding are critical components in the life of your Bible Study class. You may find that challenging, but remember, God will be with you as you shepherd the people he was entrusted to your care.
Mike Lovato is a graduate of Golden Gate/Gateway Seminary.
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