Shepherding can happen at various levels, by people in different roles, and in different ways.
Ideally the shepherd would have the gift of pastor but everyone can do the work of shepherding. Elders of a church and parents must especially work at it if they are not so gifted as it is part of their God-given responsibility to shepherd those entrusted to them. But, shepherding can happen through a number of venues or persons:
Click on one of the venues below to take you to training on that means of shepherding.
- discipleship strategies
- equipping ministry
- mentoring relationships
- ministry teams
- small groups
- Sunday School teachers
- support groups
While each of the above may not be a primary shepherding ministry, they do involve an aspect of it and the person may take his/her role beyond to a deeper investment into the lives and welfare of those to whom he/she is ministering.
In reality, shepherding may be best facilitated by a network of shepherds within a church. The needs of the flock are great and consequently shepherding is a big investment of time and effort into the lives of people.
The pastoral staff cannot possibly provide personal and consistent care for each member of the body.
To relegate shepherding to the small group ministry of the church will help but will miss the care of those who are not a member of a small group.
To divide the congregation among the elders or other designated persons will help ensure that everyone in the body has a shepherd. However, unless the span of care for each shepherd is small enough and the shepherd is willing or able to consistently be available, contacts will tend to be infrequent and therefore care will still be less than adequate in many cases on an ongoing basis.
In addition to this content, the Shepherding Ministry Manual includes a list of benefits that come to the church when shepherding comes from a variety of sources as opposed to one shepherd over all.