As followers of Christ we are commanded to live in community with other Christians (e.g. Heb. 10:24-25). This community is called “the church.” The command to live in community isn’t an antiquated notion designed for people living in the first century. God is alive and at work in His Church today. One significant role of the Church is to provide protection, care, and opportunities for growth for believers. This is often referred to as “shepherding.”
The Church of God is lived out on a daily basis in local churches across the globe. Hope Community Church, in downtown Minneapolis, Lowertown St. Paul and Columbia Heights is one example of the local church. Hope’s large and relatively young congregation present unique challenges to shepherding. The Elders and Staff of Hope desire to shepherd and to shepherd well. On any given Sunday morning through the effort of Elders and Staff, it is nearly impossible for people to connect in an ongoing and meaningful way. Without these connections, shepherding will not happen.
Even though challenges exist, Hope’s Elders and Staff are committed to creating a church environment (in keeping with God’s command) where people are being properly shepherded. We believe proper shepherding includes providing a place where followers of Christ…
-Can truly be known (for strengths & struggles) and truly know others
-Can grow in their relationship with God through exposure and application of His Word
-Can be challenged to grow in their faith-walk and combat sin through regular accountability
-Are offered care and concern while learning to care and be concerned for others. Helping one another learn how to be the church to the church
-Can give back to the body of Christ and their community by exploring and using the unique gifts God has given them
-Can learn to be and serve as ‘the church’ to other members of their small group as God equips them
-Are offered protection and a safe place to be themselves
-Can see small group leaders modeling a healthy walk with Christ and relational health with those around them
Because it is impossible to ensure regular attendees of Hope receive proper shepherding through Sunday morning worship services and/or the effort of our Elders and Staff, Hope encourages all attendees to participate in small groups. It is the belief of Hope’s staff and elders that people receive the best shepherding when they are in small groups of people (6-20). Because of this, Hope has raised up a large group of men and women who are trained and passionate about being the “front-line shepherds” of the people of Hope Community Church. These men and women, under the guidance of elders, staff, and coaches, lead dozens of small groups on a weekly basis that meet throughout the metro area.
In order to create an environment where shepherding happens in small groups, we believe that small groups should have an equal balance among three pillars.
Hope Community Church believes that a vital small groups ministry is of great importance in properly shepherding the people in its care. Small groups also provide a place for Hope attenders to serve and come along side one another. In short, small groups create the greatest potential to reach the lives of individuals on a regular basis and to honor God by helping as many people as possible become more fully devoted followers of Christ