Small-Group Leadership Mentoring

What is shepherding, really?

It's recruiting time at our church. Because of growth, job transfers, and normal turnover, we're looking for a larger-than-usual crop of folks to step up and consider (or re-consider) serving in or training for small group leadership.

Our problem is that our current crop of leaders is stellar. One guy is a true Bible scholar, who once took a seminary course in "Rapid Hebrew Reading." (Need I say more?). Another is the prototypical "Dr. Feelgood"—warm, genuine, caring, and thoughtful (Does he have a clone? How does he keep up with so many people?). Others excel in other areas: Leading their groups in effective, fulfilling service; slowly and deliberately taking folks through basic discipleship; or stimulating great discussions.

The effect of such capable leadership has been that an insidious "mythology" of small group leadership has developed in our church. In essence, many qualified folks feel inadequate at even the thought of shepherding a few others in the faith.

And then, of course, there is that word…the "s" word—"Shepherding." It sounds so…so awesome…so biblical…so unattainable.

We're finding that a lot of our would-be leaders hear the "shepherd" word and immediately think, "Oh, yeah…The LORD is my shepherd…" or "Jesus is the Good Shepherd" or "Isn't 'shepherd' just a synonym for 'pastor'?"

Thinking this way, they reason, "Well, I'm pretty confident I'm not 'pastor' material—and I know I'm not in the Lord Jesus' league when it comes to caring for sheep! So…"

"Thanks, but no thanks," is the common reply.

This situation has forced us to do two things: One, to confront the myths associated with small group leadership; and, two, to develop a mentoring framework ...

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