“God tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” – Isaiah 40:11
“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” – Jeremiah 3:15
The Future Story, developed by the people of the Region and facilitated by the Visioning Team, calls for a “Regional Elders Ministry Team” (hereinafter referred to as “Regional Shepherds”) made up of individuals who are gifted for ministries of listening and communicating information, care and attention to our local congregations and ministerial staffs.
The purpose of Regional Shepherds is to:
• provide local congregations and clergy with the knowledge, insight and wisdom of Shepherds (ministry leaders) outside of their congregation;
• be a sympathetic ear to listen and hear their concerns;
• celebrate their joys with them;
• communicate information on events and resources available throughout the Region;
• assist the Regional Pastoral Staff in enhancing strong connections among the Regional church, the ministers and the congregations.
In general, the purpose of Regional Shepherds is to nurture, care for and open lines of communication with local congregations and their clergy on behalf of the entire Region.
Who are Regional Shepherds?
So, who are Regional Shepherds? We will be set aside for a specific role of helping to connect individuals and congregations so that the unique skills, talents, abilities and passions of those individuals and congregations can best be shared for the common good throughout the Region.
We are faithful Christians who strongly believe that the Regional Church has a major role in connecting Christians in local congregations with one another. We will stand beside Regional and local pastors.
It may become necessary for Shepherds to make referrals, whether to Regional entities, coaches or other areas. Training will emphasize how this will happen and when it should happen. Shepherds will not involve themselves in congregational politics or usurp the pastor. While maintaining confidentiality, Regional Shepherds shall know when to refer to Regional Pastor and Regional Shepherds Director for further needs and direction.
• Teachable heart
• Active membership in Disciples congregation
• Committed to the Regional Church and its ministries
• Endorsement letter from their local pastor
• Good interpersonal communication skills
• Organizational skills
• Administrative skills
• Teaching/spiritual formation skills
• Self-motivated and self-starter
• Ability to discern
There will be a commissioning of all Shepherds when they are chosen and sent out to serve.
Selection of Regional Shepherds:
• Candidates will be called from recommendations by clergy and laity throughout the Region, the Regional Staff, or by other viable means identified.
• Qualifications are, but not limited to, those who are willing and eager to serve their sister congregations and clergy, have an aptitude to relating to those they are serving, are able to contribute their time and talents to this program.
• A cluster will generally be 2 – 4 congregations.
• Selection will be by the Ministry for Congregational Transformation Team in collaboration with the Regional Pastoral Staff.
• Be a communication link with the congregations to enhance connections within the Regional Church.
• Establish and maintain a good relationship with each of the ministers in their cluster. A cluster will generally be 2 – 4 congregations.
• Communicate the needs of the ministers and churches to the Regional Pastoral Staff within the boundaries of confidentiality.
• Represent the Regional Church at liturgical and ceremonial events in the life of the congregations and ministers (e.g. anniversaries and dedications) as needed.
• Read church newsletters for significant information about the congregations. If the church does not have a newsletter, regularly contact the congregation to inquire about upcoming events.
• Keep up-to-date on Regional Church resources, programs, activities and plans.
• Assist in conflict resolution in concert with Regional Pastoral Staff when asked.
• Be a friend/supporter/encourager/advisor to ministers.
• Be a support of the Regional and General church, for the sake of the congregation’s engagement in the wider mission.
• Make monthly reports on contact to the designated Regional Staff member and Director of Shepherds.
• Make monthly reports of covered* expenses with receipts for reimbursement. (*covered expenses: mileage at the current Regional rate, meals (your own and others as needed), postage, and telephone expenses.)
Expectations of Regional Shepherds:
• Visit at least one congregation each quarter (preferably Sunday morning) from within your assigned cluster of congregations with the goal of visiting every congregation within the cluster at least once a year.
• Make one significant clergy contact – lunch meeting, personal visit, etc. – per quarter for each clergy within your assigned cluster so as to personally visit every clergy within the cluster at least once a year. Once a month make a personal contact with every clergy within the cluster.
• Attend the district meetings, regional assemblies, and other gatherings as appropriate that are scheduled through the year.
• Be cautious about “triangulation” – getting caught in the middle.
It is expected that this general outline of expectations will be modified by each Regional Shepherd in consultation with the Director of Shepherds to fit the uniqueness of each cluster, the needs of the ministers and churches in the cluster, and the gifts and style of the Regional Shepherd.
• The Director of Shepherds and members of the Regional Pastoral Staff will provide consultation, support, and prayer for each Regional Shepherd on a regular and ongoing basis.
• Regional Shepherds will convene twice each year for prayer, continuing education, support and sharing of resources.
Regional Shepherds serve at the discretion of the Regional Pastoral Staff and Director. A normal term would be two years, but a Regional Shepherd may be asked to renew that commitment for one or more additional terms.
Regional Shepherds will attend an initial training session before beginning to serve their assigned cluster of congregations. Regional Pastoral Staff will write a letter of introduction to the churches with a copy to the Director of Shepherds, and they will follow up with a letter of introduction to their congregations. Regional Shepherds will be commissioned at a Regional Board meeting or Regional Assembly.