“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for pastors and church members to SHARE THE LOAD . Following the same wisdom that Moses’ father-in-law gave to him, pastors have to identify and train key members of the church who can help provide some of the pastoral care for their congregation. And everyone in the church needs to recognize that God’s intent is for all of us to care for one another.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
A vibrant network of Small Groups provides the perfect context for teaching people to care for one another. Small groups also provide a great environment for teaching leaders to care for people.
Here are a few suggestions for how to get started:
- Start by having all of the small groups take ten weeks to study the “one another” passages of the Bible, and discuss, “How can we put these passages into practice in our group?”
- As they work through this series, be sure to listen for stories of people caring for one another that you can publicly celebrate!
- Reinforce this up with basic skills training for the small group leaders in how to provide pastoral care to the people they are connected to.
- With this as a foundation, the Pastor can then begin to regularly communicate to the congregation that being a regular member of a small group is the primary source of care in the church.
- The most challenging part of the change will be for the pastor to “take a step back” from immediately responding to every request for attention. It’s good for people to hear the pastor say, “I know you are a part of the Tuesday night Home Group. ___________ is a good small group leader. It would really help me, if you asked your small group leader to help you with this need.”
- At first this will be a big change, so it’s ok to move slowly, but it’s essential for the pastor to empower small group leaders and the small groups.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7
Remember, our job isn’t to always be the one who provides the care – our job is to make sure people are cared for. And that requires us to empower the people to care for one another.