The VCOC Congregational Shepherding team, made up of the Chans, Tanlimcos, Gollands, Reimers and Felushkos, shared on Sunday, September 23rd, about some specific goals they want to see result from the church’s increased focus on shepherding in the church. Here is a summary of the things they shared about:
- Encouraged by the direction the church is taking in starting a shepherding network
- Believe a number of needs will be met, and more so as we grow in our understanding of shepherding and see it playing out in our relationships and Life Groups
- Just as every Life Group is unique in its structure, needs, direction and focus, so will the shepherding team adapt to the needs within those groups.
- In a number of groups, the shepherds role may be one of simple communication and be a bridge between groups and between leadership. In others perhaps teaching, and in others one of a coordinator.
- Excited to meet and to get to know other shepherds and learn from them what is working well in their groups, get ideas, inspiration, and even collaborate with projects, social events or spiritual endeavours.
- Believe that as we refine and mature our concept, understanding and application of shepherding in the church, we will have a better communication between groups and with leadership.
- Believe that also there will be a much better representation of every member and that more diverse voices will be heard and involved in decision making moments at the leadership level.
- It may take some time in refining, but like any other worthy effort, … this is worth persevering with, and it’s not only the best way for the church to move forward, but it’s also a biblical way to build and safeguard our spiritual family.
1 John 1:5-7 – “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
- The verse above relates to walking in the light, being open with each other, being honest – being gut level honest with each other, about where our lives are at.
- Goal for shepherding is to see that kind of closeness, that level of communication, that honesty, that openness. Goal is to do that through example.
- Being completely honest and open, that’s how we walk in the light, that’s how we experience God’s grace, that’s how we experience fellowship with one another. Would love that to be representative of the shepherding teams.
Ephesians 4:16 – From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
- A personal goal for shepherding in the church comes from this verse.
- Sharing about the Richmond Women’s Life Group 2:
- With implementing shepherding roles in our group, it’s fostered an environment where each woman shares in making our group great, and shares in making our church great, and it’s not the overwhelming burden of just one person or leader.
- It’s fostered an environment where women are able to discover and desire to use their individual God-given gifts and talents, to make our group amazing and our church amazing.
- One of my visions and goals is to provide an environment where I can discover women’s gifts and talents and foster them and nurture them and let them grow, and that’s what I’ve seen happen in the plus 2 years we’ve been together in implementing this concept.
- Sharing on the Richmond’s Men’s Life Group 2:
- 2nd anniversary of the Life Group we started in September 2010
- Our Life Group started out as an effort to obey the second part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20 “…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- At the San Antonio World Discipleship Conference, one of the most amazing things I observed was that the majority of the churches have made a decision to obey more the second part of the Great Commission which is shepherding, to teach and grow mature Christians, teaching them everything that Jesus has commanded us.
- The Bible says that God’s word is the primary way that God leads us to sanctification or to maturity and just as our physical body needs food, spiritual nourishment is essential to our spiritual life. Our life in Christ depends entirely on it.
- Jesus says, “If you love me, you’ll feed my sheep.” So what do we feed God’s people with? The answer is God’s word, the scripture.
- It’s interesting that when Paul was having a serious discussion with the elders in Ephesus (Acts 20:28) and he said, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” He mentioned one very specific thing that can build God’s people up. In Acts 20:32: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” He said there is one specific thing that can build God’s people, it’s God’s word.
- God’s word plays a very central role in our Life Group. There’s connection time, there’s dinner time. There’s being open with each other, but we always open our Bible.
- Our goal in the men’s Life Group is to 1) build strong spiritual family, 2) strong friendships, and 3) anchored on God’s word.
- We carefully and wisely select very high quality Bible study materials with practical applications.
- These materials have to be sound in doctrine, Christ-centred, and they have to be foremost able to equip us to live product Christian lives and cope with the challenges in our lives.
- God will bless if we believe his pattern for church growth and my goal is to build a healthy Life Group based on strong spiritual family, strong friendship, and God’s word playing a central role.
- We need to pray that Christians in our church begin to love our church again, love God’s people
- When Christians begin to love the church again…, if people feel that they are part of a strong, spiritual family, and they feel that they have strong, spiritual friendship, they will feel more proud to introduce God’s family to their friends and family.
- I’m so proud of my Life Group – the one thing that characterizes our Life Group is %100 attendance the last two years. It’s easy not to come after you have a tough work day, work week. A lot of guys have sports injuries and they still come. They had a bad day with family, kids and wife, it’s easier not to come. But unless there’s surgery or a really sick day, everybody comes. We look forward to it. It’s such a refuge and oasis and time of nourishment. I’m so proud of each of these men that we travel as pilgrims towards heaven.
Ezekiel 34:1-4a – The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.
- God is speaking to his shepherds, and his demands on shepherds are very serious.
- He expects shepherds to help the flock grow spiritually and help the flock grow in numbers.
- We believe that the shepherding team can help the church grow spiritually and grow larger as a family.
- In terms of growing spiritually, the Bible commands to strengthen the weak, to heal the sick and to bind up the injured
- How we can nurture that in the church:
- Something that is definitely a vision for what the shepherding group can do for the congregation in general is the idea of not letting anyone fall through the cracks.
- Obviously we’re looking at a congregation that is spread out in a very large geographic area.
- Within our small campus group, we just a few of us, but we’re spread out: some in Richmond, some in Langley, Coquitlam, Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby. That’s representative of the whole church.
- If the responsibility for shepherding is only on a few people, it’s not possible for just a few people to be able to properly shepherd a group that is so spread out.
- What ends up happening is either they end up burnt out, or and at the same there’s many needs that they would not be able to attend.
- The shepherding group would be very very effective in taking ownership for the whole church, and doing our best and helping out, that there’s no one who’s falling, that there’s no one who’s needs that are not met. Hopefully one of us will catch it and one of us will be able to go and to help.
- Also the whole idea of combining our talents. There is plenty of talents in the church: people who are in touch with other people — the people personality, and the task-oriented.
- Putting our minds together, we can for sure work out something where the needs are met and at the same time where no one is feeling burnt out by meeting those needs.
- Another thing that goes with this is the idea of — besides spreading the responsibility of taking care of one another — is the idea of discipling.
- It is nearly impossible to live our lives as disciples for the rest of our lives — which is what we plan — without discipling.
- The thing that the shepherding group can bring about is that — is to provide more opportunities for people to raise up and to help one another, opportunities in small groups where people can learn more about the Bible, find more ways where we can implement and live out the Bible, ways that we can live it out. Also, similar to what Andy was saying, opportunities to have deep friendships, and frinedships that are not just about hanging out and having a good time, but also being deep about our sins, our commitment to God, our need to grow and our desire to grow.
- These are some of the things that I’m looking forward to how the shepherding group will help the church.
- The second thing God commands us to do is grow in number, to grow larger as a family:
- It says, bring back the strays and search for the lost
- I’m really passionate about seeing growth in the church not only spiritually but in number
- Obviously the campus is an excellent place to do that, reaching out not only just to strangers on the street, just reaching out to people, inviting them to Bible talks, but also really building friendships. That’s one of our core focuses this year in the campus ministry is deep friendships – really growing in our trust for each other and our trust for our friends as we start studying the Bible with them.
- I really believe the shepherding network can help the church grow in those two areas: growing spiritually and growing in number.
- Here are five things that I believe the shepherding network can do in order to really effectively lead the church forward:
- Example – Everyone who calls themselves a shepherd must be an example to the congregation of people living and walking with God closely, and sharing that with others. Our personal example of evangelism, our personal example of discipling and getting help and maturing is crucial to gain the trust of the congregation. How can people follow a shepherd who is not leading them in the right direction? Our example is crucial
- Empowering others – This is going to be crucial as we, in the next 7 years, go into regional churches. I’s going to be incredible to see men and women rising up to lead those regions. That’s one of the goals of the shepherding team, to empower regional shepherds and regional leaders to pastor their flocks in their regions and to grow the churches regionally — which is going to be a very exciting time.
- Wow – The shepherding team can really work together and focus on excellence, creativity and God’s power working…on Sundays to make the church an amazing place to come to. People will come and say, “Wow, what an amazing service” or “Wow, what amazing people are here.” I want people to come here and say, “Wow, God is working, God’s power is working.”
- No surprises – means we have open and honest communication. We have timely communication with the church. We work hard as a shepherding network, our goal is to plan the next year and to really nail down those activities and events so that the church knows what’s going on and there are no surprises. Things have been thought through and communicated extensively so that people know what’s going on.
- Cheer – The shepherding team can foster a culture of recognition, of cheering each other on, of lifting each other up, sharing good news, the amazing stories of the victories of what is going on in the church.
- The scripture that comes to mind with regards to shepherding is:
1 Corinthians 12:24-25 “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
- My goal is to see a shepherding network that will help us to connect with each other, helping one another in areas of our lives that need help.
- Our life, as it is, is tough — everybody has different stages in their lives that they are going through. There are good times and bad times. We need people around us to be there for each other, to help us in our times of need and in times of joy — equal time to spend to help one another — to inspire by living a life that is pleasing to God, that we can help each other grow spiritually, learn from our Bible, share our insights, what we’re going through, what we’re learning, so that we can help each other go to heaven.
- And also to encourage, by keeping each other strong in our faith, helping each other not to give up, to pull each other up when somebody is discouraged, to help one another to keep our faith strong, to also strengthen and love one another, so everyone will feel a sense of belonging with a community of believers with the same purpose.
- To achieve this goal I believe that everyone should be part of a Life Group, and everyone should have a mindset of a shepherd so that each disciple can help the people around them to make it to heaven.
- I’m so encouraged by our life group (Richmond Women’s Life Group 1), we are very closely-knit women, we try to be there for each other. Each and every woman facilitates – we take turns facilitating, so that everybody will be doing their part and everybody will be encouraged to share their talents.
- We started studying 1 Thessalonians, and we decided that we want to dig deeper in our Bible and to help one another to share our lives. We’re very open with each other. We know that we our safe, that we can share freely and we will not be judged. I think it is very important that we are there to help and not to judge one another.
- We need to be involved in each other’s lives and we need to take care of each other as a family of God.
- In the Journeymen Richmond Life Group, we’ve been studying the Bible, spiritually helping each other.
- I want to share about my vision and goal to see every disciple in the church… to love one another and meet the needs of each other.
- We’re in God’s family – so we call each other brother and sister. I know we can call it friendship, but I look at it more as brotherhood and sisterhood.
- We’re supposed to be closer in God’s eyes. We are his children. In the family of God we need to help each other and meet the needs of each other.
- In our Life Groups, it’s very spread out, but one very good thing is that because we are going regional, we can easily be closer with each other, so we can build stronger relationships with each other.
- For the needs, we have physical needs and spiritual needs. For physical needs, sometime we need financial help, or some people get sick, we need help for the food. We take care of each other. This is very important.
Romans 12:9-13, – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
- If you open your house, people will see your life more, it will really help you.
- In terms of physical needs, in case we really need help, we should not hesitate to ask for help. At the same time we should always be generous to help each other.
- For spiritual needs, it’s also very important. We need each other to continue to encourage, to continue to challenge, to continue to build each other so that we can continue to grow spiritually.
- I always know that, because without any brother or sister beside me sometimes to challenge me I will never be faithful.
- I hope that we should always have a humble heart to accept any help that we need spiritually.
- At the same time, we have the courage and not be a coward to challenge or to address the issue, so that you can help other disciples in their spiritual lives
- With helping each other, as we grow stronger and closer, it will really build up a very strong family, and then we will continue to impact the people around us.
Ecclesiastes 3:2-82 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
- Although in our lives individually we go through these in cycles: times of mourning, times of healing, times of speaking, times of silence, but as a church we are at a place where we are at a time to build, and a time to heal, and a time to mend and embrace, and keep and love.
- This service today has been all about that from the first moment… It’s still one unified purpose.
- [Speaking to the Shepherding Team]:
- I just wanted to say to all of you what a honour it is for Brian and I to work with you.
- You are a diverse group, [with] diverse histories, diverse birth places, diverse life experiences, but the unity that we have forged through the fires in the last several months — and it was not an easy journey — is to the glory of God.
- Romans 15:5-6 – May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- That’s my dream, it’s the unity. We are so incredibly diverse, with incredibly diverse languages — at every level we are diverse — but we have this one common thing: with one voice we can glorify God.
- That’s what brings us here. That’s why we’re sitting in this room today, it’s that one voice glorifying God.
- So the shepherding team is a network through the church, is an adjunct to what is already happening, it’s an addition to what’s ever happening in the group.
- “Start with why, always start with why”: Today, it’s the why behind this tool we have created, developed in the shepherding team. It’s a tool. But the why is the things that are said: the unity, that all needs will be met, that no one will be met, that no one will fall through the cracks, that deep Bible study can happen — whether you are new to Bible study or you’re an expert — that you’ll be able to share that and grow and continue on.
- I just want to give a little clarity, a couple practicals about the shepherding team:
- To enable and facilitate growth and deep love and understanding of each other, each Family Group Shepherd will spend an extended time once a month with one of this group [the congregational shepherding team].
- So all the shepherds in the congregation are going to, once a month, meet with someone in this group and just sit down and talk and share and grow.
- Brian and I have been doing it for a couple of months with the people we are working with, and the depth of conversation is unlike anything I have experienced honestly in many years, and I’m really deeply encouraged by what’s working in that.
- Then about once per term, so maybe two, three times a year, all the shepherds will get together for training, Bible study, planning.
- Once a year, probably, we’re going to have a retreat, so we’re doing it next weekend, and we’re going to study the Bible together and we’re going to train together and get to know each other and just work on our common purpose.
- But it’s not like we get together every week or we’re not going to have meetings… just to clarify in your minds, it’s not like that, it’s not that kind of group.
- Brian and I, because we’re just two people on staff right now, we would be burned out – how easy it is to burn out when you don’t have people working with you. Our arms being held up, we’re working together, it’s a unified purpose, and we’re headed in the same place – it’s just deeply encouraging to us.
- Thank you for listening to our sharing as a shepherding team.
- I hope all of you are excited.
- As Brian mentioned a week ago, [he] was talking about the 2020 vision. I just hope that everyone of us can hear [this message], we can continue to build up and strengthen the church
- Everyone here, every disciple should have a vision too for the 2020, so you can continue to grow in your own personal spiritual life and your relationship with other people so that we can bring glory to God.