OK, your congregation isn’t actually “invisible,” but at times, it can seem that way, at least for a large portion of the people.
- How do you shepherd people you don’t see?
This is the new era of “invisible” congregation; it’s a new challenge to demonstrate that you care.
- Should you chase people who’ve been gone for six months or a year?
Some people don’t want to be chased any longer. How do you know?
- How do you show you care?
Everyone is different, so how do you know what they need?
Reaching new people is the vision of leadership; shepherding people is the soul of leadership. Both are essential.
It’s easy to get focused on one or the other, but both are vital to the expression of a healthy church.
It seems natural to lean into vision right now, and again that’s vital, but we can’t falter on shepherding and aspects of discipleship merely because they are currently more difficult.
One pastor said it this way. “It’s kind of like when my kids moved out. They don’t want me calling all the time, but they still want to know I care, and I’m there when they need me.” That’s not easy to navigate.”
The approach to shepherding will have some differences depending on the size of your church, but the essence is the same.
And it always starts with the leaders who set the example.
A Shepherd’s Heart
Caring about people means you are willing to climb into messy.
Be honest about what it means to care.
I’m sure you’ve experienced a boss, teacher, waiter, landscaper, or salesperson, or other person, where you thought, I don’t think they care.
Caring about people isn’t automatic, and it requires intentionality. Caring also carries with it the willingness to get involved in difficult or painful situations.
Transformation rarely comes without raw moments of truth, which are often a little messy.
If that kind of caring isn’t in you, ask God to give it to you, and He will.
It’s necessary to be healthy to help others become healthy.
It requires a degree of emotional and spiritual health to have the personal margin needed to care for others.
This does not suggest a flawless life, but one that is strong and secure enough to pour into someone else.
Part of remaining healthy is knowing your limitations and boundaries. You can’t help everyone, so focus on listening so you know who He wants you to personally shepherd.
Embrace the reality of the absence of a shepherd.
Without a shepherd, believers, especially younger Christians, are susceptible to the enemy.
This is not an indictment on any of us who lead; I fully understand it’s difficult to shepherd people who are not there, and it’s impossible to get to everyone.
(Phone calls and texts are helpful, but only go so far.)
It’s good to remember that there is an enemy who prowls about and seeks to destroy.
5 Guidelines to Shepherd Your People Well in a Time When the World Has Changed
Start with the people you can see.
It’s easy to inadvertently overlook those who are with you because of your passion for reaching those still not reconnected back in relationship with the larger body.