Shepherds, absentees, and group size

Today’s post, like all Monday posts, comes from a book I recommend to you. Today, I’m going to quote from a book by yours truly.

In chapter 2, I address the things that teaching shepherds do (“shepherd” is one of three roles that all group leaders must fulfill). Here is what I had to say about the size of groups and the connection to a group’s absentees:

After a Bible study takes place, the shepherd must follow up with each absentee…Sometimes this is accomplished through a care group system. In some groups it falls to the shepherd to do it.

This is one reason I am a fan of small to mid-sized groups. People have asked me over the years, ‘What is the right size for a Bible study group?’ My strong conviction is that twelve, plus or minus three or four, is about the right size. Jesus chose twelve men to be in His group; that’s a good example for us to follow. Plus, many group leaders just do not have the margin on their calendars or the organizational skills to handle more people than this. It’s one reason I’m a big fan of smaller groups. Smaller groups of eight to sixteen people are manageable for most shepherds.

If you’re a teacher, you’re also a shepherd. As a shepherd, make sure that your group isn’t so large that you cannot contact every absentee (or lead your group to contact them). If you’re struggling to care for absentees, consider pairing down your group size by starting a new one and giving some of your people to another group and group leader to care for.


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