Training Category: Shepherding Ministry
Christian support groups can go well beyond helping people overcome addictions, cope with loss, and deal with other hurts and abuses. Support groups provide opportunity for spiritually shepherding its members. That happens when leaders, who serve as under-shepherds, guide people to the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) who cares in ways no one else can because He is good (Jn. 10:11), great (Heb. 13:20), and the guardian of our souls (Heb. 13:20-21).
Shepherding a Support Group Involves More Than Facilitating Group Time
The general responsibilities of a shepherd can well be applied to a support group leader who wishes to shepherd the members of the group.
Loving the Sheep: Often people coming to support groups need an extra portion of love and grace.
Serving the Sheep: A leader who consistently serves without worrying about return will tend to make significant impact. In leading a support group, expect giving to be one way though the ultimate goal is for them to learn to reciprocate.
Being an Example to the Sheep: Telling people how to rise above is necessary but showing them how is when they will better understand. Telling people they need to walk the walk even when it hurts and give even when there is no return is important but modeling such behavior speaks to their hearts more than words ever could.
Leading the Sheep Gently: Tough love does not have to be gruff. Tough love should be filled with grace. Shepherds should never be quarrelsome or abusive with the sheep. Do not guise your own frustration and impatience with people as “tough love”.
Equipping the Sheep: A support group should not be to simply provide a place for people to vent their feelings. Rather, the objective should be to help people learn how to rise above and cope in healthy, God-honoring ways.
Certainly you can see how support group leaders who want to effectively shepherd must view their role as more than a group facilitator. They need the heart and mindset of a shepherd … specifically, of the Chief Shepherd.
For Materials You might Use in a Support Group, check out: Christian Support Group Resources: Books & Curriculum