Biblical Shepherding

Small Group Leadership

Shepherding may be a foreign concept to many of us who grew in American cities or suburbs, but it was very familiar to people who lived in the biblical eras. What do shepherds actually do? How could it help us today as we lead and disciple others in Christ? In three videos, Mike Dsane, Matt Younger, and Beth Broom talk about what it means to spiritually shepherd small group members and what it looks like in both men’s and women’s groups. Mike Dsane, Matt Younger, and Beth Broom are Groups Pastors at The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  

Mike shared four ways to shepherd small group members:
  1. Feed: Lead them in spiritual truth and equip them with skills to feed themselves.
  2. Protect: Teach them to discern the difference between what is true and false. 
  3. Lead: Guide them, represent them, and live what you teach. 
  4. Discipline: Lovingly confront and correct their mistakes.

Describe specific ways Jesus has fed, protected, led, and disciplined you throughout your life. How have those moments influenced how you shepherd others today?
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In what ways do you feed and protect your small group? How have you led and disciplined them?
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Which of these shepherding areas are you the strongest at? Which could you grow in and why?
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We are called to take our shepherding role seriously so that our flocks not only survive and thrive, but learn to more deeply trust the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for them. In this video, Matt Younger talks to men about shepherding other men in small group time.  

Matt shared four ways to effectively lead and shepherd men during small group:

  1. Have clear plan for each meeting to avoid wasted time.
  2. Honestly share your life so that others will be open to share. 
  3. Practice confession, encouragement, and exhortation.
  4. Lead your group in prayer. 

If you are a men’s small group leader, consider the following questions. 

Describe a typical small group meeting. What is working well? What is not? Why?
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Matt said that men lean more heavily toward confession, but forget to encourage and exhort. How have you experienced this in your group? How could you make them a “staple” in your group time?
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What does prayer look like in your group? How might splitting into smaller groups to pray make a difference?
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Though many of the same principles Matt shared apply to women’s small groups, Beth Broom talks in this video about a struggle more common to women shepherding women. 

Beth said that women have a tendency to steer clear of difficult topics for fear of disrupting deep relationships. She said, “When we desire to maintain friendship above a desire for holiness, we have made it an idol.”  If you lead women in a small group, consider the following questions.

How has this been true for you as a women’s small group leader? Why does Beth call it an idol? What do you fear most about confrontation?
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How do you balance love and compassion with truth and discipline? When is it the most difficult? Why?
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Beth said the most loving thing we can do is listen and talk with women about sin and other hard topics. She gave three ways to shepherd sisters who are moving toward sin: 
  1. Ask her questions to hear the whole story. 
  2. Turn conversations to the gospel and what Jesus would have her do. 
  3. Persist and persevere in love.  

Why is this an act of love? When has someone shepherded you in this way? How did you respond and how did it impact you?
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Describe at time you had to confront someone in your small group about her behavior. What kind of questions did you ask? How did you focus on the gospel? How did she respond?
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What would you do differently next time based on this teaching? Why?
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We are called to spiritually shepherd the flock in our care. That looks like prayerfully and intentionally feeding, protecting, leading, loving, and disciplining them. May we ask the Lord to give us wisdom and trust that He will shepherd them and us a restorative and refining way.