Big Apple Chapel is a New Testament based church in New York City, modeled after the pattern of the early church, with a strong emphasis on following Christ as a community of His disciples.

  • Sunday - 10:30 am
  • 520 8th Ave, 16th floor
    New York, NY
  • phone: +1 (973) 837-1041

Shepherding Group Journey Guide

Shepherding Group Journey Guide  BC 11/91

The NT uses the Shepherding analogy to describe the relationship and define the responsibilities of church members (I Pt 5). Since we live in an urban culture, we have a difficult time understanding the metaphor. The following will help you understand the function, purpose, and responsibilities of Shepherding groups as you enter into the Shepherding care of the church.

I. Understanding Shepherding

A. List five responsibilities of a shepherd (See Psalm 23 for insights.)







B. List five responsibilities of a sheep







C. List five analogous responsibilities of a NT shepherd/elder







D. List five analogous responsibilities of a NT sheep/church member








                If you were to hire a shepherd to watch your sheep, your instructions would be: be on guard that no one gets eaten, stolen, lost, damaged, or led astray; oversee their diet so they get enough food and water; ensure that they get a good combination of exercise and rest; keep them healthy and disease-free, fix broken legs, nurse the sick ones back to health; do everything with a view toward making sure they reproduce and grow into glossy, fat, marketable sheep, fit for sacrifice.

II. Understanding Shepherding Groups

A. Structure and Format

                Our shepherding groups are designed to provide a framework in which we can carry out our purpose to glorify God by obeying His command to make disciples. The shepherding groups have a particular focus in enabling us to fulfil our responsibilities to edify, equip, encourage and love one another for the purpose of reaching out to the unbelievers around us.


WHO: 7-15 believers or unbelievers divided into: shepherd, intern,  mentors (disciplemakers in share groups), evangelizing disciples, undiscipled non-witnessers, and seekers.


Purpose: To develop and exercise Biblical LEADERSHIP each group is led by a Biblically qualified elder (and intern) who is:

                a) accountable to the other elders of the church for the group.

                b) developing a shepherd intern to lead the new group when                                     multiplication occurs.

                c) being trained to respond Biblically to the needs of the members.


Responsibility: To facilitate the equipping process each member will realistically assess their growth needs and plan to progress to the next stage of growth and ministry. ("...equipping the saints for the work of ministry." (Eph 4)


WHEN: Meet every week: at least twice a month in homes during the week and twice a month on Sundays after the corporate worship service.


Purpose: To pass beyond the casual acquaintance and "catch-up" stage to where know what's going on in each other's lives and are sharing our lives with each other.


Responsibility: To make the Shepherd group meeting your highest discretionary priority.


WHAT: Format (minutes - in homes) [minutes - on Sunday]

I. Social time/Ice breaker  (15) [5] {group}

II. Worship in song, thanksgiving, praise (15) [5] {group}

III. Accountability and prayer time for partners (10) [7] {pair up}

IV. Equipping time (30) [20] {split up}

V. Edifying time based upon the word: sermon Life Response or discussion questions (30) [30] {group}

VI. Communication time {group} (10) [3]

VII. Prayer for extraordinary needs, the Body, and our vision of outreach

(10) [5] {group}

Total (120 homes) [75 first and third Sundays 11:45-1:00]


B. Elaboration


I. Social time/Ice breaker  (15) [5] {group}

Purpose: This initial interaction is designed to help you get to know and understand other members of the group better, and they you, so you can more effectively minister to each other. Each of us is a product of our past experiences and choices, and in order to be knit together by the Spirit of God we need to know each other as we really are, without masks.


Responsibilities: As you participate in knowing each other, strive to demonstrate the same love, honesty, transparency, acceptance, empathy and confidentiality that you would want shown toward?? yourself. Get to know each member of the group beyond the superficial/cliche level. Reveal those things about yourself that will help others have an accurate perception of who you are. Keep information shared in the group as confidential unless you've obtained permission share it with others. Follow the lead of the Shepherd or Intern in keeping it short. 


II. Worship in song, thanksgiving, praise (15) [5] {group}

Purpose: To put our lives and activities in perspective by focusing on our infinite God and what He's done in answering our prayers. This will build our faith in His ability to meet the needs present in our midsts.


Responsibility: To care more about what God thinks of you than what others think, as you share answers to prayer, and sing and praise God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.


III. Accountability and prayer time for partners (10) [7] {pair up}

Purpose: To develop Biblical friendships with each other so that: burdens can be carried and joys shared; no one will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; and believers can receive personal encouragement in reaching their growth goals.


Responsibility: each member will meet with an accountability/prayer partner (chosen with counsel from the Shepherd) during the group meeting and at another time (or by phone) during the week to share progress in growth goals, pray for each other, and interact over questions that are mutually beneficial.


IV. Equipping time (30) [20] {split up by need and interests}

Purpose: To enable each believer to be systematically built up and equipped for ministry each member will meet with their Shepherd and/or Intern to discuss their completed JOURNEY GUIDE and map out their GROWTH GOALS and equipping track objectives. The goals would serves as the basis and focus for the accountability relationship the member would establish with another group member.


Responsibility #1: To help each believer develop skill and consistency in the basic  disciplines of the Christian life (such as Devotional Time, Bible Study, Prayer, etc.), each member will meet with a mentor or the Shepherd or the shepherd intern or as a group of two or three or more during the EQUIPPING time to master one each one of the areas below. Non-believers would meet with the shepherd or their sponsor to discuss something like "I'm Glad You Asked," or their path to faith.


a. Seven basic discipleship passages resulting in skill in the seven basic disciplines of: Quiet Time, Prayer, Bible Study, Scripture Memory, Worship, Body Building, and Witnessing

b. Twelve Theological Surveys

c. Seven Keys to Understanding the OT

d. Inductive Bible Study Methods

e. "I'm Glad You Asked"

f. Share group strategy and prayer


Responsibility #2: To develop a process for EVANGELIZING non-christians and enfolding and discipling new believers each member will be involved in a weekly share group to reach type B (hard-core) unbelievers or preparing to do so by learning to reach type A (visitation candidates) unbelievers.


V. Edifying time based upon the word: sermon Life Response or other discussion questions (30) [30] {group}

Purpose: To provide an atmosphere in which we can obey the commands of Scripture in fulfilling our obligations to love each other, sharing our lives and resources to help each other grow, each group will have an EDIFICATION time based upon the Word. It is in the edification time that the grace of the Spirit of God flows through the members of the body to do what is in each other's eternal best interest (love) and in the process build up each other (with the end result that our love for each other will attract others to glorify God). In edification, the emphasis in not on content but on application.


Responsibility: To "consider one another to stimulate to love and good deeds," being a vessel of the Holy Spirit in assisting each other to apply the principles of Scripture by: revealing how God has worked in our lives, raising honest doubts and needs, and responding to everything as Christ would. There are no spectators when true edification is going on.


VI. Communication time {group} (10) [3]

Purpose:  To identify and provide for the needs of the Body which are not being met by our current organization, and to implement a structure for better COMMUNICATION within the Body, (such as the VISION and direction of the church, needs of the Body, why we're doing what we're doing).


Responsibility: each group member has the responsibility of sharing information and insights of which the group or Body should be aware. If in doubt, check with the Shepherd or Intern first.


VII. Prayer for extraordinary needs, the Body, and our vision of outreach

(10) [5] {group}


III. Understanding Your Spiritual Journey

People in your shepherding group will be interested in your personal pilgrimage with God. To help you think through your Christian experience, (so that you are in a better position to encourage and minister to others out of your experience), please jot down brief answers to the following questions. You will show this information only to your shepherd. You will want to share parts of it with others during the course of your shepherd group meetings. By all means use additional space to answer any questions that will assist your shepherd in knowing and serving you.


A. When and how did you become a believer?



B. Who was involved in the process of your conversion?



C. What was the appeal of Christ/Christianity to you when you were first considering becoming a believer?



D. What convinced you?



E. Do you ever doubt your salvation? What do you do when that occurs?



F. How did you get established in the Christian life?



G. What major struggles did you face in learning to live under Christ's lordship? (In what areas did you find obedience difficult?)



H. Are there any struggles you're currently facing which you think might be a hindrance you your growth and ability to minister to others? (You might want to come back to this question after you've completed the TOYL evaluation in the next part. You'll probably struggle with being transparent in answering this question. That's natural, but remember that God is committed to using other members of the Body to help us grow so that we don't become independent.)



I. Were you ever discipled by another believer? How did that process work?



J. What process or steps do you think a new believer should go through in order to become a reproductive, ministering disciple of Jesus Christ?



K. Is it natural, easy, a little uncomfortable, difficult, or impossible for you to share your faith with someone?



L. What Christian training have you received? (discipleship, seminars, classes, etc.)



M. What Christian service have you been involved in?



N. Describe what you do for a devotional time:



O. Do you feel competent to lead someone to Christ and get them established in the basics of their walk with God? (If not, what would you need to help you do that?)



P. In a nutshell, describe the purpose of the Church as you currently understand it:



Q. What kind of interaction do you think the Bible says we should have with other believers?



R. Do you think that you're lacking any of that kind of interaction in your life?



S. How do you feel about developing close relationships with others?



T. Do you have a good understanding of how you can build up someone else?



U. Describe a time when someone built you up:



V. How do you feel about being involved in a group where the people are unconditionally and unreservedly committed to loving each other?



W. What fears, if any, do you have in being in such a group?



X. How could those fears be resolved?



Y. Is there anything your shepherd should know in order to be able to help build you up to become a fruitful, reproductive believer?



Z. What personal or church ministries do you have an interest in learning more about or being equipped for?


IV. Understanding the Shepherding Group Journey Guide

The Journey Guide helps you determine and become all that God wants you to be, and receive the benefits of being shepherded. The Journey Guide is your passport into Shepherding Group life. It will aid your shepherd in fulfilling his responsibilities to you as you develop your growth goals, and assist your accountability partner in praying for you and encouraging you as you share a specific goal with each other.


A. TOYL Evaluation

The first part of the Guide guides you in evaluating five major areas of your life in which you will eventually develop goals (if you haven't already done so). It helps you put on paper what someone would see about your life if they perched on your shoulder 24 hours a day for a month. It should open your eyes to a number of needs in your life, as well as strengths which you can use to minister to others. Just follow the instructions on the form, then isolate the top needs you'd like to meet in each area. Don't feel overwhelmed or discouraged; you have the rest of your life to grow or develop in the areas that are lacking. Every living person will have unmet needs in their lives.


As you evaluate your life in the areas of Work, Relationships, Personal Growth, Spiritual Growth, and Ministry, please be as honest as possible. This evaluation is for your benefit and your eyes only. Your shepherd is particularly interested in helping you meet the top needs in your Spiritual Life and Ministry, so you'll want to share at least those needs with him so he can pray more specifically and help you develop your objectives and growth goals. He can also guide you toward resource material for any of the areas listed. You and your accountability partner may want to share some of your needs and objectives with each other so that you can better pray for and encourage each other. [The Ideal Day and Eulogy are optional for now, but are very helpful in clarifying your goals.]


B. TOYL Purpose and Objectives

The next part of your Guide helps you view your life from the perspective of eternity. You might want to refer to the list of verses under "Purpose" to help you articulate your purpose in life. Give your shepherd a call if you have difficulty writing your plan to glorify God and serve others, and he will help you think through the process. Your shepherd is anxious to serve you as you develop and implement your plan. A major job of a shepherd is to keep watch over the direction his sheep are headed. In order for a NT elder to exercise oversight (Acts 20:28), or keep watch for your soul (Heb. 13:17), he needs to ensure that your direction in life will get you where God wants you to be.


You already have objectives for some of the areas of your life, but if you're like most people, you've never written them out for all five areas and balanced them against each other. Stating and refining your objectives so that they serve as an accurate guide for your activities is a life-long process. You may not be satisfied with your first efforts, but with more thought and input from your shepherd you'll eventually develop a very useful guide for your decision making.


C. Shepherding Journey Guide

Both believers and non-believers pass very distinct milestones on their journey to Christlike maturity (Col 1:28). Because individual needs vary, there is no one sequential path everyone must take, but there are definite skills or maturity markers each believer must acquire if they are to make progress in their journey with God. A lack of competency in a basic Christian skill will prevent future growth and lead to a sterile rather than reproductive Christian life. One of the hallmarks of our shepherding groups is the individual guidance and equipping you will receive through the process of establishing and reaching your growth goals.


The equipping time of your shepherding group meeting is designed to help you reach your growth goals and be used by God to help others reach theirs. After you complete this guide, you'll make an appointment with your group shepherd to discuss how he can help you grow and develop a strategy for your equipping path. You'll work on these objectives in a small group, or a partner. Some you'll do on your own, and share the results with the group.


Please look over the following equipping/training objectives and mark those you're able to help/mentor others in with an "5", those in which you feel competent but not yet reproductive with a "4", those which you're fairly well grounded but still need some more growing with a "3", those with which you are unfamiliar with a "2", and those which you recognize as needs you'd like to meet this year with a "1".


After you've marked each objective, arrange or rank the items you've marked with "1" according to which you think are most crucial for reaching your next level of growth or which the Holy Spirit has impressed upon you as being your top priority. You're now ready to meet with your shepherd and enter into the joys of Biblical Shepherding.



Training Objectives

1. Assurance - I am certain that if I died tonight, I would spend eternity in heaven. I can explain why I believe that, and can prove it from the Scriptures. I have publicly thanked God for my salvation, and can relate my Christian testimony to someone in three minutes. I can take someone though the Ephesians 2 discipleship materials.


2. Worship - I have a consistent (6/7) devotional time with God: reading His word to better know Him and what He desires for me; responding back to God in prayer; and then recording a key daily thought which I share with someone weekly. Using the Bible, I can teach someone else how to have a Quiet time. I understand the purpose and nature of corporate worship, and have publicly thanked, praised, and given glory to God.


3. Prayer - I regularly bring my needs and requests before God at the beginning of each day, and throughout the day as the occasion warrants. I keep a prayer list (TOYL) and have shared an answer to prayer with my mentor/accountability partner, and my shepherding group, and the Body. I can take someone though the Matthew 6 discipleship materials on prayer.


4. The Word - I can demonstrate that I'm using all five means of getting the Word of God into my life, (including Bible Study and Scripture Memory), and have shared an insight from the Word with my mentor/accountability partner, and my shepherding group, and the Body. I can take someone though the discipleship materials on the Word, and can list half a dozen benefits of the Word in my life.


5. Lordship - I have made living as an obedient disciple of the Lord Jesus my top priority and have symbolized it by baptism. I have reordered my life purpose, objectives, and weekly schedule to reflect my commitment, and make my decisions in accord with the Will of God. I have sought out an accountability partner to aid me in my quest for holy living. I can take someone though the II Corinthians 5 discipleship materials on Lordship.


6. Body Building - I can articulate the Biblical purpose of the Church. I  have shared with my mentor six specific obediences to the "one another" commands. I have submitted myself to a local body of believers as indicated by signing their agreement of fellowship/membership, and actively participating in a Shepherding group. I can take someone though the Acts 2 discipleship materials on the Church.


7. Witnessing - I have shared my faith with an unbeliever to the point where they had a clear option of accepting or rejecting it. I can sketch out a simple explanation of the gospel from memory. I have identified and am cultivating two relationships with non-christians outside my immediate family. I am laboring together with others in a visitation or share group.

I can take someone though the John 4 discipleship materials.


8. Discipleship - I have read two of the recommended books on Discipleship have developed a personal philosophy of ministry, shared my plan for becoming a disciplemaker with my shepherd, and am implementing that plan with help from my accountability partner.


9. Speech - I have completed a topical study of the use of the tongue and developed a Biblical Philosophy of Speech, which has had a noticeable effect on my words.


10. Work & Money - I have completed a topical study on the obtaining and using of money and have developed budgets to guide me in being a good steward of my time as well as my money and strength.


11. Relationships - I have completed a topical study of relationships

(dating, husband-wife, parents-children, employer-employee, governmental, church, believer-unbeliever, believer-carnal believer) and developed a set of Biblical principles for relating to others.


12-23. I have worked through each of the dozen theological studies with another person, developing and making appropriate life applications from each, which I've shared in my Shepherding group.


24-28. I have spent one month on each of five topical Bible studies, satisfying needs and interests from the TOYL evaluation, and shared the results of my study with someone else.


29. Inductive Bible Study - I have studied and developed an exegetical outline for a book of the Bible, using the various study resources. I can trace the author's argument through the book, putting each passage in its intended context, and derive both the original and contemporary applications.


30. Teaching - I have taught/preached in a public setting so that people understood and were motivated to do what God wanted.