How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church?

Though we are shepherds who will give an account for each soul in our care (Heb. 13:17), we all still have this tendency to gravitate to those we either love to be with the most or who make the most racket, thus demanding our attention.  Because of this, there are church members who unintentionally slip through the cracks.  In seeing this in the early years of my ministry, I came up with this system that has become a very effective way to care for our folks and to cut down on unnecessary and unintentional neglect.

I created a prayer guide with each member of the church broken into a 28 day chart in alphabetical order.  This is to represent the first 28 days of each month.  On day 1, I pray for those 5-6 people or families.  Then, I try to make some kind of personal contact with them that day in the form of a home visit, email, hand written card, phone call, facebook note, or text message to let them know I prayed for them on that day.  Lastly, I ask in that moment of personal contact if there is anything I can do to serve them.  For those I haven’t seen recently, I will usually call or go see them to get an update on how they are doing in general. 

I repeat the same process for day 2, then day 3…all the way to day 28.  If I am faithful and consistent in this process (which I never do perfectly) I would have prayed and made contact with all those who have been entrusted in my care in one month.  Any extra days of the month I do the same thing with our missionaries and others we have sent into ministry from our church.

This became such a fruitful system to keep up with all our folks that I took it to our other pastors/elders and they began to do it also.  It became such a fruitful system for each of us as pastors that we made a chart for our members and encouraged them to pray for each other in the same way as a prayer guide for our church.  Several of the members have even adopted the model of the pastors to contact folks that day they pray for them.   It has been amazing the fruit that has come from many of our members taken this task to pray for one another seriously. 

On our women’s retreat last month, one of our dear ladies in the church led our ladies in a project to take that chart and transfer it to index cards that can sit on their table a home in the form of a flip calendar.  Each morning, you just flip to the next day and you see who you are to be praying for that day.  Since putting this on the table in our home, our children now make an assertive effort to pray for those appointed for that day. 

I have been grateful and encouraged by our church’s response to pray for each other once we gave them a deliberate way to accomplish this.  Regardless the layers of benefit that has come from this prayer guide, it has ultimately created a system of accountability for myself and the rest of the pastors to make sure we never neglect or unintentionally leave behind a sheep.

On the next post, I will explain how this system of shepherding can be accomplished in a larger church setting.

Posted in Discipleship, Oversight of Souls
15 comments on “How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church?
  1. Rev. Ryan M. says:

    LOVE it! Thanks for sharing.

    I used to pray through the church directory and, before there was email, write a postcard to the one person or family I prayed about on any given day. I told a church acquaintance about my system and he started doing it too! But I would sometimes find a week had passed between 2 listings.

    Your plan is scheduled, which is wise. I wonder if, even for a church of 75-150 (?), having a 2 month rotation might make it possible to complete the schedule more “perfectly,” to borrow your word…? And might this mean that people don’t always hear from the pastor (or others) on the same day of each month? For instance, it seems that if someone always gets contact on the 5th day of the month, a lack of contact on that date might seem like a glaring omission, and ‘backfire.’

    One more point is that if everyone calls, emails, or chats with a person on the same day, might not that person feel like a ‘project,’ even a little? Or do people tend to just feel special, like being contacted on one’s birthday?

    • Brian Croft says:

      Glad you have taken a similar approach. To you questions, a couple of factors mixed things up at times. I rarely do this as I have design exactly, so if I miss a day or two, I play catch up and consequently contact folks on a different day. As far as people feeling like a project? My experience has been that even when I send my pastoral interns to visit widows and shut-ins and they know it, they don’t care. The encouragement that comes from their visit, fellowship, concern, and prayer with them trumps any feelings of the other. Though that possiblity is always there with this system, I have found the encouragment of knowing pastors and fellow members are sincerely praying that day trumps any feelings of being a project.

      One more note, when I get contacted on “my day” by several folks who prayed for me, I experience a lot of emotion, but feeling like a project is the last thing I feel.

      Thanks for writing and for your insightful questions!

  2. murgsy says:

    greatly appreciated, Brian.

  3. SeanE says:

    Thanks for your “practical shepherding” help for your fellow shepherds among the Body of Christ, Brian. I have appreciated the care that you display through your posts.

    How do you handle contact for non-member regular attenders as well as children of member families? Some of our church families are quite large (7-10 people). Would each member of the family receive a separate contact, and on which day? (I know it is not about making this another “program”, but my mind works best with systematic thinking about ministry.) Thank you.

    • Brian Croft says:

      Thanks for your encouragement and question. I think better systematically also. I lump familes together as far as parents and children (minors). For example, most members in our church have several young children. So, I may have 3-4 families on one day to pray for and contact and I treat that one family as one contact. Family members that are on their own (out of their parent’s house) I would make a separate contact. Non-members attending are contacted on a more case by case basis and are not a part of the member system. Membership is a helpful way to know who you are entrusted to care for more than others. Having said that, I find I am regularly thinking of those attending, but not members yet regularly, which leads me to be in regular contact with them. If you need a system for them to help you organize, I would suggest adding a non-member to every 5th day of the month. If you just have a few, you could add it as days 29-31 as most months have those days. I hope that helps.

  4. Liam Garvie says:

    Keep up the good work brother! I’m freshly challenged by this blog concerning your pastors heart for the care of the flock at Auburndale. Press on.

  5. Brian I’m just curious how much time does this take on a normal day?

    • Brian Croft says:

      If I am praying and contacting 3 – 4 families a day, I can accomplish this in about 30 minutes. If you figure 10 minutes to pray and about 20 minutes to call them on the phone, write a short card or email, it can be done in that time. Obviously, it will take longer if I take time to visit or meet with one of them that day. You can also extend that time from 30 minutes if you pray longer or get more involved in contacting them, but this can be sufficiently done in 30 minutes a day.

      Thanks for asking.

  6. Tammy says:

    Would love to somehow see a picture of the flip prayer cards? It’s a great idea and I’d love to use it to involve the whole family (kids).

  7. Brian says:

    Thanks for this idea. I am thinking of using it not only for myself, but launching it for the entire church this Fall. My only change would be to not include day numbers for the congregation. With people missing days along the way, eventually different people will be praying for a family all through each month.

  8. Luke says:

    Brian,

    I’m just wondering how this fits with your day off, weeks you are sick, or on Sundays? Do you double up, do you still keep the schedule, or do you let them go until next month? My friend told me about this during our accountability time yesterday, and I’d like to do it…just wondering about these questions. I am an only pastor on staff at a small country church. Thanks.

    • Brian Croft says:

      Great question. I usually pray for them on my day off during my normal devotion time, but wait to contact them the next official day I am “working.” I also end up doubling up at different times when time didn’t allow me to contact someone on a work day that I prayed for them. The goal is to contact everyone in a month’s time. I am not concerned with sticking to every day dogmatically. I hope that helps.

  9. Kris Logsdon says:

    Thanks for sharing Brian-

    Would you be willing to share the template that you have made? Thanks and God Bless

15 Pings/Trackbacks for "How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church?"
  1. […] from a pastoral ministry perspective.  He opens a very practical and helpful post called “How Can I Be Sure I Am Regularly Shepherding Everyone in the Church?” with these words: Though we are shepherds who will give an account for each soul in our […]

  2. […] I appreciate Pastor Brian Croft’s ministry, and my appreciation for him continues to grow. On Monday, he explained his approach at systematically praying for and making contact with every member in […]

  3. […] Here is how Brian Croft pastors his congregation by praying for and contacting each of them intentio… I created a prayer guide with each member of the church broken into a 28 day chart in alphabetical order.  This is to represent the first 28 days of each month.  On day 1, I pray for those 5-6 people or families.  Then, I try to make some kind of personal contact with them that day in the form of a home visit, email, hand written card, phone call, facebook note, or text message to let them know I prayed for them on that day.  Lastly, I ask in that moment of personal contact if there is anything I can do to serve them.  For those I haven’t seen recently, I will usually call or go see them to get an update on how they are doing in general. […]

  4. […] How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church?: Awesome post again from Brian (if you hadn’t guessed yet, his blog is a great help to church leaders), and love the concept of 1 leader doing this for every 100 church members. […]

  5. […] How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church? […]

  6. […] – Faithfully praying through the prayer guide and contacting those who were prayed for that day.  For more on this, see this previous post. […]

  7. […] Shepherding the Entire Church — One pastor’s gameplan for making sure no one in his congregation falls through the cracks. Here’s a follow-up post with suggestions for doing this in a larger church. (HT: Challies) […]

  8. […] How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church? […]

  9. […] Shepherding in a smaller church  Share Tweet … other posts by briancroft […]

  10. […] learned from Brian Croft’s incredibly helpful blog Practical Shepherding.  In a post entitled “How Can I Make Sure I am Regularly Shepherding Everyone in the Church,” Brian outlines a simple method of systematically praying for every member of your flock and […]

  11. […] learned from Brian Croft’s incredibly helpful blog Practical Shepherding.  In a post entitled “How Can I Make Sure I am Regularly Shepherding Everyone in the Church,” Brian outlines a simple method of systematically praying for every member of your flock and […]

  12. […] appreciated this post by a pastor, entitled  “How can I make sure that I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church?”.  There is also a part two, where he addresses how this can work even in a large church. This […]

  13. […] a pastor is reading this, may I suggest this article by Pastor Brain Croft entitled: How can I make sure I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church? Note there is a part 2 where he explains how the method can work even in a large […]

  14. […] and contacted each month. I wonder if he got his ideas from the Puritans? Read his methods here:  “How can I make sure that I am regularly shepherding everyone in the church?”.  There is also a part two, where he addresses how this can work even in a large church. Here is an […]

  15. […] I have Evernote notes for every household in my congregation and follow a modified system based on this article. I really wish I did a better job of actually following through with this system. At bottom line, I […]

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