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Part 7: Pastoral Care in a Connect Group

I’d like to begin by giving you three statements about pastoring. First is that pastoring is an immense privilege. Jesus was referred to as an apostle, a prophet and evangelist, a teacher, and a pastor. But the only one that he called himself was the pastor. We read that in John 10:11, where Jesus said not only that he was a Shepherd (pastor), but he said, I’m a good one. The second thing about pastoring is that it’s something we never move past. It’s not like pastoring is kind of like the basics that everybody has to do, and then once you’ve done your time caring for people, you move on to the more interesting things you really want to do in the church. We never progress past pastoring. It’s a bit like masala in a curry. You can take ostrich chicken, beef, venison, goat, anything…However, in order for it to be curry, it has to have masala take the masala out, and it just turns into a stew. If you take care, love, and pastoring out of ministry, it’s no longer ministry. Thirdly,  there is a big difference between what I’ve called “traditional pastoring” and “biblical pastoring.” Traditional pastoring aims to keep people happy, and you basically do that by doing whatever they want. But biblical pastoring, if you look at how Jesus pastored, is about healthy people. So for you and I to pastor, this is what we’re on about keeping the people we lead healthy!


Dudley Daniel described pastoring (and as a Connect Group leader, you’re effectively pastoring) as loving, leading and feeding. So you need to think through those three things in regard to the people you lead. Are you loving them? Are you taking them somewhere? Are you feeding them? 


The people we lead, ultimately, their primary need is cared for by God. But the question for you as a leader and for you as somebody pastoring them is, what is the thing that you need to give them? Now this is a massive subject with many sides to it. But the most important thing you must give to the people you lead is you. I have travelled to the UK a number of times, visiting churches there and about a year ago, we wrote back to all the churches we visited and asked them to audit our ministry and our contribution to the church. We asked them this question, “What is the thing that we bring that is most important to you?”  Thinking it was obviously the preaching or ministry.  Without fail, everyone said, “The thing that we need most from you is the relationship”. So for the people you care for, the people you’re leading, the primary thing you have to give them is you. A relationship with you. If we go back to John 10 & and we look at the relationship Jesus had with his sheep, these are the statements that come out of John 10: He calls them, He leads them, He goes before them, they follow him, they know his voice, and finally, he knows them, and they know him. It’s a two-way relationship. Sometimes in traditional pastoring, we’re happy for us to know people, for us to be in their house, for us to be in their circumstances, for us to be in their world. But we’re not really happy for them to be in us, our world, and to know us. Genuine pastoring is a two-way relationship. It’s a two-way vulnerability. 


This helps me keep that relationship with people.  I’ve called it my four P’s. These are the disciplines I have in place that helped me to pastor and in no particular order. 


  • Prayer
  • Photos
  • Phone
  • Person to Person


So with my pastoring, people like to think that it’s all spontaneous and comes out from the inside, but that’s not how it happens. Most people’s birthdays, I don’t remember spontaneously, I remember because I’ve written it down somewhere. And so I have these four disciplines in place in my caring for people.



It actually starts with photos. Because if I have people in front of me visually, I have them in my mind, I see them every morning when I walk into my study. So I have in my study the pictures of the people I lead that way; every morning when I walk into my study, I can’t forget them. 



The second thing I do is pray for them. I don’t pray for all the people every day. But I pray for them. I have this conviction that for the people that I lead, if I’m not praying for them, the chances are nobody is, and the thought of having people in my care that nobody is praying for, I find, undoes me. So I pray for people. 



I pray with my phone, and I have this goal: I will write a personal message to at least three people every day. It must be personal. For instance, if you send me a message and I see that it’s one of the ones that you’ve sent to 100 people, it goes right down to the bottom of my inbox, and I might get to it next year. I pray with my phone so that if I feel anything prophetic or encouragement for a person or just some tenderness or love, I write it down and send it to them immediately so that I don’t forget. 



The last discipline that I have with regard to leading people is person-to-person.  My wife and I will set our diaries three weeks in advance and diarise who we want to connect with face-to-face in our home.


Lastly, we’re very aware of the Great Commission, which is to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit(Matt 28:19). But the great commission is built on the great commandment, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul, all your mind and all his strength and the second commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself (Matt 22:37 – 40). Ministry is built on these two great truths, the “Great Commission” and the “Great Commandment”. Go and enjoy loving people!