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New Elder Shepherding Approach Through Covenant Groups

New Elder Shepherding Approach Through Covenant Groups

Covenant’s Session is taking a new approach to provide elder shepherding to the congregation. The new plan involves a unification of our Covenant Group ministry (Covenant’s small groups) and elder shepherding responsibilities.


For several months, the Session has discussed ways we can be more effective in shepherding the congregation. Our first objective was to agree on a definition for shepherding.

An elder’s role as shepherd is to care for the church by knowing, protecting, leading, and feeding the congregation. The elder ...

Protects by … keeping watch over and guarding the church doctrinally and morally from threats from within and from without,

Knows by ... Praying for the congregation; caring for the congregation in meeting needs of the body & soul / physical & spiritual including building personal relationships; caring for congregants in times of crisis,

Feeds by ... equipping the church for ministry; ministering the Word in teaching, counseling, and preaching,

Leads by ... exercising church government and discipline; being an example in discipleship, hospitality, and evangelism.


Secondly, our objective was to consider this question: How is the Session to faithfully accomplish this definition for shepherding?

The “old” approach was based on a two-group system. An elder was part of a Covenant Group and he had a separate group of members to shepherd.

The “new” approach is a one-group system. The Session gathered feedback from Covenant Group leaders and members and discovered most are pleased with our current Covenant Group arrangement. After much discussion and consideration, the Session decided to capitalize on the success of our Covenant Groups by aligning the elder’s shepherding responsibilities with Covenant Groups.

To make this new approach work we have made slight adjustments to each group. Members who have not participated in Covenant Groups in the past have been assigned to a group. We encourage everyone to participate in a Covenant Group, but if members choose not to, the elder or elders in the group to which they have been assigned will serve as their shepherding elder. Every member has been assigned to a group to make a total of seven groups.

Another dimension to this new approach is inactive elders (elders not currently serving on the Session) and active elders (elders currently serving on the Session) are part of these groups. Our goal is to have active elders in the groups but due to our rotational system and vacancies on the Session some groups in some years may have only inactive elders. We are asking our inactive elders to provide shepherding in these cases.


If you have any questions or concerns about Covenant Groups, please contact me ( If you need help determining which group you are in or if you are a regular visitor and would like to be in a group, please contact the church office. (

No model or approach is perfect. We expect to make accommodations and adjustments especially as we evaluate the groups each year as new elders come on the Session.

Our hope is this new approach will be a simple, efficient, and helpful way for elders to be faithful in shepherding our church family. I hope it is a simple approach for you, our members, to know your elders and benefit from their care.

Elders and members alike are grounded in an enduring hope and enjoy abundant blessing under the shepherding ministry of THE SHEPHERD. Jesus said,

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:14, 15).

May God continue to pour out His blessing on our church family through Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd,

In Christ,



Tim J. Reed, Pastor