Biblical Principles for Pastoral Care in Small Groups

When leaders understand what is and is not expected of them, they are more at ease.

Sarah was facing her biggest nightmare. She had resisted leading a small group for years because she lacked confidence in her ability to give wise counsel to the problems of others. Her pastor had finally convinced her that she did not need to worry. "It rarely happens", he told her. She has been an excellent leader, and her group has grown closer. Lately, however, group members have become more open and are turning to her to solve their problems. She has spent hours on the phone with several members of the group. After one late night "crisis" conversation, she slept through her alarm, missed an important meeting, and was reprimanded at work. She felt deceived and abandoned by her pastor. He had not prepared her for this. Feeling inadequate and overwhelmed, she felt her only way out was to resign as a leader and to leave the group. How did this happen? What went wrong? What did she do to get into this mess? What could have been done to prevent her sense of impending doom and failure?

Several things were missing or minimized in Sarah's preparation to become a small group leader.

  • No one told her what was expected of her in providing care for her group members and in helping them with their problems.

  • No one had given her a basis or trained her in the "how-tos" of helping others.

  • She did not know how to set healthy boundaries for herself.

  • She had never seen a leader model pastoral care in a small group.

It does not take long to learn that the fear of handling basic pastoral care for group members is one of the biggest barriers to recruiting and retaining small group leaders. Therefore, it is important to help both the novice and experienced leader understand their role in providing pastoral care in their group. Over many years, ...

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