So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4, ESV)
From the Old Testament to the New, a common image that was used to describe God’s care for his people was the shepherd tending his sheep. Many of the great leaders in Israel began their training for ministry as shepherds—think, for example, of Moses and David. Jesus also uses this image to describe his own ministry. He states, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15))
Based on the ministry of the Chief Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ, the elders of New Life carry on this high calling to know, feed, lead, and protect every member of the New Life flock. The elders strive to present everyone mature in Christ, wanting every member to be “fully known and fully loved.” This is done as each member is connected to Christ and to one another.
Starting in 2021, the elders will carry out this shepherding task through the ministry of Life Groups. Shepherded by the elders and deacons of the church who are called by God to watch over them, every member will be in vital relationships that will further their maturity in Christ.
Thus, every member and regular attender of New Life will be part of a Life Group, led by a Leader, overseen by a team made up of an elder and deacon. These Life Groups will be the primary places where members receive shepherding not only from their elders and deacons, but also from one another. This is because shepherding, or caring for one another, happens vertically (leadership to congregation) and horizontally (member to member). So the Life Group ministry has this two-fold goal of facilitating shepherding and building community.
Life Groups: Structure and Leadership
Oversight of the Life Group will be by a Shepherding Team consisting of an elder, a deacon, and the Life Group Leader. They will provide oversight and support to their Life Groups, and connect them, if necessary, to those in the church that can assist them (staff, elders, deacons, etc.).
Because all current Community Groups will transition to becoming Life Groups, members of these community groups will have the opportunity to stay in their existing group or choose to join another Life Group of their choice.
For those members that do not participate in the Fall Kick Off event, the Shepherding Planning Committee will endeavor to place them into Life Groups based on criteria such as geographic location, life stage, etc. Please note that being in a Life Group does not preclude members from voluntarily participating in other interest groups within the church.
Life Groups: Meetings and Scheduling
Most groups will want to meet at clearly defined periods of time. For example, the group can meet for 10 weeks or 12 weeks, take a break, and then continue that pattern. Some groups may also desire to take a short break during the months of July and December. Whatever the schedule, the key is meeting regularly for the building of community and care without overburdening anyone.
Life Groups: Reporting and Support
Life Group Leaders will regularly prepare and submit reports on their shepherding activities and requests for support as needed. This will primarily be done via our online CCB (Church Community Builder) system. Leaders will receive training for this reporting function in a class (Shepherding 201). This is a critical part of our making sure our members are fully known and fully loved.
The Shepherding Team of each Life Group (elder and deacon) will regularly attend meetings of their Life Groups to enable them to have personal contact with their flock. The Shepherding Team will assess each Life Group’s shepherding activities and will meet as needed with their Life Group leaders to review the care taking place in each of their Life Groups.
Dates, Times, and Locations
Life Groups will also be one of the primary ways members are receiving the various needs they may have. Via the Life Group Leader, needs will be communicated to the appropriate leaders (shepherding team) and staff. The kinds of help include, but are not limited to:
- Counseling services
- Support for the Church Community Builder (CCB) system
- Equipment and facilities support from NLPC
- Financial counseling and benevolence assistance
- Volunteer work team coordination and assistance
- Medical and safety support for NLPC events
- Special needs transportation for church events
- Care for elderly, disabled or shut-in church members
- Outreach ministry participation
- Meals assistance services