OSWEGO, Ill.—Pastors of Regular Baptist churches across the Midwest met at Harvest New Beginnings for their annual Regional Connect conference.

The event on Feb. 5–6, titled “Shepherding: Refocusing Our Purpose,” was designed for pastors and ministry teams to evaluate their role in preaching, prayer, and discipleship ministry to various ages and group sizes. Built into the schedule were times of worship and prayer and a series of messages and workshops.

Pastor Will Hatfield of CrossRoad Baptist Church, Ames, Iowa, began the conference with an interactive session called “Defining Shepherding.” The session centered on three case studies in which Will asked the men to draw parallels between parables and real-life experiences in pastoral ministry.

“The goal was to help them consider how shepherding works on an individual level and a corporate level, and then evaluate how their shepherding is doing in that process,” he says. “We first defined the function of shepherding for the purpose of considering how we are doing in that process.”

During a meal after his session, Will encouraged the pastors to share with each other various ways shepherding takes place in their churches.

In the second session, Pastor Scott Poling of Harvest New Beginnings asked the men to consider what it means to be a shepherd and what it takes to be shepherd. Using 1 Peter 5:1–5 for his message, “Charge to the Shepherd,” Scott encouraged the men to shepherd seriously, not apathetically; carefully, not carelessly; willingly, not grudgingly; eagerly, not greedily; humbly, not arrogantly; and expectantly, not ignorantly.

Scott reminded the pastors that the church is God’s flock, that they belong to God and He purchased them with His own blood. “If they are that precious to God, then they need to be that precious to us. We are God’s undershepherd, and He will hold us accountable.” Referring to Peter’s command to shepherd the flock, Scott told the pastors, “We are shepherds, not hired hands. Be passionate. You are there to protect the flock.”

Scott encouraged the men to feed and care for their people. “We have hurting people in our churches,” he said. “Feed the sheep by putting in the time on your messages. You’d better be feeding them well and leading them in the right direction. We need to lead the flock, not drive the flock. They are sheep, not cattle.”

He also encouraged pastors to exercise oversight by planning for the future, assessing the health of the sheep, holding leaders accountable, and praying through the process.

On the second day, Jon Jenks, state representative of the Wisconsin Association of Regular Baptist Churches and director of training and enrichment for Baptist Church Planters, delivered two messages: “Shepherding through Prayer” and “Church-Wide Shepherding.”

Between messages, workshops took place: “Shepherding from the Pulpit” by Mike Augsburger, pastor of Soteria Des Moines, West Des Moines, Iowa; “Shepherding Families” by Dave King, pastor of CrossPoint Fellowship Church, Jasper, Indiana; “Shepherding in Small and Medium Groups” by Zach Dietrich, pastor of theology and education at Soteria Des Moines; and “Shepherding in Counseling” by Mike Hess, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Soteria Des Moines says, “Our mission at Soteria Church is to make more and better disciples who learn, grow, serve, ‘Here, there, and everywhere.’ . . . It’s a joy to know that there are many like-minded churches looking to accomplish the same mission.”