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, handwritten 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 a previous women’s retreat, 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. They also fight over who gets to “flip the card.”
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.
Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.