Starting next year, spouses of shepherds and deputy shepherds will be required to complete the required Life series. Currently, deputy shepherds are required to complete 2 courses and shepherds 5 courses, but there are no requirements for their spouses. Now both the husband and wife must complete the required courses before deputy shepherds are appointed and shepherds are ordained.
The number of people who receive Jesus as their Lord and are baptized at our church each year is stagnant or slightly decreasing. However, the number of people on my list for whom I pray to receive salvation is increasing. The list consists of people who sign a commitment card to become a part of our church but have not yet received Christ and non-believing spouses of church members. The number of names on the list used to hover between 60 and 70 but is now around 100 to 120 names long. The number of people in our church who are not yet Christians is increasing.
The reason for this phenomenon may be that the people who have become church members recently aren’t being exposed to Christian influence. They may be die-hard non-Christians, and serving and loving them alone may not be enough to move them to receive Jesus. It may be necessary for both shepherds and their spouses to be equipped to minister to them. Equipping spouses is especially needed because 70% of house church ministry is done by spouses.
There will be an additional benefit when both husbands and wives finish the required training courses: mentoring will be more effective. It is our practice for deputy-shepherds to be teamed up with shepherds as prayer partners. They pray for each other regularly in person or over the phone. This allows deputy-shepherds to get advice about their personal lives or ministries and receive prayer support from shepherds.
Spouses of deputy-shepherds are also partnered with spouses of shepherds. But some shepherds’ spouses have completed fewer of the training courses than the spouses of deputy-shepherds. They can still help because they have more experience, but relying on experience alone is inadequate. If the shepherds’ spouses are required to complete the required 5 Life series classes, they will be better equipped to be mentors.
This rule will become effective next year. The spouses of current shepherds or deputy shepherds are not required to fulfill the new requirements, but I strongly urge them to complete the required training courses. In one year, we will no longer partner spouses of shepherds with spouses of deputy shepherds, but will match up those who have finished the 5 required Life series classes with those who have not
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