Congregational Shepherding Team (CST)
By Ps Alby Yip
What are Congregational Shepherding Teams? Some of you may be aware of the old cluster system. The CSTs are somewhat like that, but more. The cluster system was birthed during our “wilderness” years when we worshipped at Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School while the church building underwent a redevelopment. In every church redevelopment, the biggest challenge is how to retain the worshippers as research shows that most churches lose 20-30% of their people during such building redevelopment.
We needed, therefore, a system to reach out to our members and the cluster system was set up to provide pastoral care to our flock at Zion Bishan. However, over time, especially after we returned to the completed church building, these clusters gradually lapsed into administrative structures as most returned to their old routines like before the redevelopment.
Then came the Covid-19 pandemic. We were again forced to change and adapt. We all know the story. As we put together all that we have learnt from these two major disruptions to our worship services and church life, the leaders acknowledge that there is room for improvement in our discipleship approaches, pastoral care structures, and even in how we worship.
For example, previously, we only recorded and uploaded the week’s sermon after Sunday later into the week for the sake of thoseunable to join us in person for corporate worship services. But now, with our experience in livestreaming, we’ve learnt we can do more. Those who cannot come physically to church, those homebound, sick on any given week, away on holidays, at work but can spare the time, etc are able to still worship together with the rest of the church family at the same time via live stream.
Another advantage we’ve reaped in this CST model is that we have been able to reach out more personally to visitors to our services. In some services, we have seen a very high percentage of visitor retention. Many of these have also been grafted into an Action Group (AG)!
Moreover, before the pandemic, we already had designated pastors, elders, deacons and staff worshipping regularly at the 8.30 am, 10.30 am, and 5 pm services. The current CSTs are structured to intentionally and effectively disciple, look out and care for the regular worshippers in these services. Our vision for this local Body of Christ is for every member to be rooted in God’s Word, care for one another, and participate in God’s mission of saving lost souls. The end goal is so that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Eph 4:11-16).