The Shepherd Leader 20/20 Initiative: Knowing Every Member/Meeting Every Need
They came from California, Arizona, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, New York City, St. Louis, Pennsylvania, and, of course, Georgia. Why did they come? They came because they are all leaders of large churches and wanted to consider best practices for shepherding large numbers of people. The consultation had been in the planning for 4 years. After visiting First Presbyterian in Augusta, Georgia, First Pres. Executive Pastor John Barrett and I began to imagine a consultation of large church leaders to talk about shepherding their flocks. I shared this vision with Bob Brady, executive director of the Alliance, and he offered the assistance of the Alliance to make it happen. In the meantime, Randy Schlichting, Pastor of Shepherding at Perimeter Church, Atlanta, came alongside to be a key member of the team. In February 2018, a smaller group of large church leaders met on Fripp Island, SC, to discuss the possibility of a larger gathering later in the year. After a full day of discussion and prayer, it was agreed to proceed to plan the larger meeting. But would they come? The answer is “yes.” Nearly 40 leaders arrived from all over the country. The event was called a “consultation” because there was time allotted for these leaders to gather in smaller groups and share ideas and hear from others. But there were also stimulating plenary presentations. I started things off on Monday night with an overview of the key elements of an effective shepherding plan and the challenge of meeting these criteria in a larger church. Tuesday began with a remarkable presentation from Perimeter Pastor of Shepherding, Randy Schlichting and his staff, who presented the opportunities technology provides for member care including the “Shepherding App” that each of their 300 elders carries on their cell phones! Caring for 4500 members is possible and it is happening at Perimeter. Ken Jones, Pastor of Shepherding at Oak Mountain Presbyterian in Birmingham, talked about their “Commissions” that include Pastors, Elders, Deacons, and women to care for a dedicated number of church members. This 2700 member church is caring for every member. John Barrett, Executive Pastor of First Presbyterian in Augusta, followed with an encouraging presentation about the challenges of “keeping on keeping on” and what that has looked like over the years. Shepherding is what we are called to do and we may have several iterations and adjustments along the way, but we should never give up. Bijan Mirtolooi, Director of Spiritual Formation at Redeemer (NYC) presented Redeemer’s use of care groups to shepherd the flock. Every church member is in a care group and this is how they meet the spiritual needs of their members. This report would be remiss if it failed to express appreciation to Mike Prewett, Perimeter Church member and president of Century21 Connect Realty, who offered the facilities of his office building without charge to host our meetings. There was space for both the plenary sessions and the breakout discussions. We are deeply indebted to Mike and his staff for their hospitality. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and its “shepherd leader” contributors have been a key source of encouragement along the way. Their willingness to provide administrative support including the online registration capacity helped make this event a reality. Many thanks to Bob Brady, Jeff Mindler, Karen Ciavolella, and Jon Burke. You are a great team! We don’t know what the next step will be. Our goal is to reach leaders representing 100,000 members in their churches. This meeting brought us 1/3 of the way. We are praying that we will be able to encourage more leaders to take shepherding seriously, for the glory of our Chief Shepherd. If you would like to partner in this endeavor, please pray, and please consider a gift to the Alliance to support theshepherdleader.org.