A few days ago, Pastor H from Central China shared his thoughts, feelings, and practices on the pastoral mode in recent years, especially during the pandemic period. He admitted that the pandemic "brought some challenges in serving" during the lockdown, and that changes needed to be made in the pastoral mode and thinking, as well as the pastoral habits and programs, as "demanded by the reality".
He introduced the different ways of pastoring that he saw and practiced, saying that the times make it necessary and urgent to conduct diversified and refined ministry.
Group ministry is a way to carry out refined pastoring.
Pastor H believes that the church should now carry out refined pastoring. "You can't just preach, as just preaching on Sunday does not work anymore." He said, "Because this accounts for merely 20%-30% of the overall information the believers receive. Some churches even give up Sunday preaching, with the pastors mainly responsible to train group leaders, who would be in charge of pastoral ministry on Sunday service. And the pastors would conduct tours of inspection among all groups."
"In this way, all the group leaders would get the training in three to five years, while keeping their pastoral care for believers, as pastors tour in different groups. The pastors would be working hard, but refined pastoring can well cope with future shocks and threats. In particular, if the church with more than 100 members did not train the group leaders and the main staff workers, the church would collapse during the pandemic. While the churches with trained group leaders or staff members would not collapse and may grow faster when there are external pressures. Getting together in different groups, they would definitely grow up as long as the gathering does not stop ."
Therefore, the church should be prepared. H reminded, "The church should train group leaders and co-workers so that they can master basic pastoral knowledge and system and copy it down. Just like the original church, the church was stable without many pastors. This is because the elders or mature believers took on the responsibility of pastoring. Our work should focus on the training of group leaders and staff workers so that they can have independent space and the ability to establish the church independently."
Refined pastoring also needs to focus on diversified pastoring.
In addition, refined pastoring is not just about grouping, but also requires diversified shepherding, which means that the church groups can be of various types, such as the elderly group and the youth group by age, or the praise & worship group and the kitchen service group by the type of service. The forms of gatherings can also be of various types, such as worship & praise gathering, prayer gathering, meeting, dinner parties, outings, etc.
"The groups could take various forms, instead of being fixed," Pastor H said. "In different situations, some groups could be mixed with the elderly people and the young, while others could be dedicated for a single age group."
"Some small churches discuss in groups immediately after the Sunday gathering. This could bring immediate feedback on the Sunday information. In this way, the pastors on the spot can train the group leaders and guide them on how to pastor. The pastors can provide some questions for everyone to discuss, which will provide immediate feedback. Some believers cannot participate in groups (activities) due to work, they will be grouped on Sunday to promote communication."
Pastor H suggested that "those who can participate in in-person groups can be grouped, while those who cannot join an online group". Since some believers cannot participate in the face-to-face group, they can listen in. "If they cannot attend Sunday services, they could participate in weekly groups, either online or in-person". In a word, we would like to make sure that believers participate in the gathering so that they can get pastored in all directions.
Pastor H also pointed out that there were many online groups during the pandemic, but online groups should also have the opportunity to meet in person, like once a month. "It's difficult to meet during the pandemic, then you can have a phone call. Some churches with better financial conditions can go for a farm stay when the pandemic is less serious."
- Translated by Oliver Zuo