Here’s How Two Churches Are Using the School of the Shepherds

Have you tried the School of the Shepherds (SOTS) for your church’s in-house elder training? This week we have two reports from churches that are using the courses to develop their current and potential leaders.

Karl Peterson, whose group at Parker Hills Bible Fellowship in Parker, Colorado, is up to SOTS 104, reported:

The elders of our church use the School of the Shepherds . . . to train our current and potential elders as well as others serving more broadly in other leadership and ministry areas.

We meet over a two-year period, eight times a year. We meet monthly and take a break over the vacation months.

In our current class, six “students” meet with me, a church elder. We all carry out our studies of three or four SOTS lessons on our own over the month. In our two-hour class sessions, we do the following:

    1. First we review verses we’ve committed to memorize. We’re working through 1 Thessalonians 2 at the moment, two verses per month.
    2. I lead us through the SOTS homework lesson by lesson, briefly reviewing the content, asking the group if they have any questions or observations about the material, and highlight a few of the Discussion Questions for those lessons.
    3. We then take fifteen or so minutes to discuss any ministry experiences the students have had over the past month, in which they’ve learned something we can all benefit from, or gotten “stuck” in a difficult ministry scenario that we can all contribute to.
    4. We close with a presentation by me or a guest speaker on some area of ministry training—how to lead a small group Bible study*, how to do pastoral visits*, how to lead a prayer meeting, etc.

And here is another report from Mark in New Jersey:

I am thankful for you and enjoying going through SOTS “101 Intro to Shepherding.” My heart and burden only grows for this for myself and others here in New Jersey.


We are convinced a deep dive into eldership will help both prepare those God has called to it and equip all to understand and follow God’s design for their own maturity and faithfulness in the church.


I am working with a church plant that launched this (past) summer, and the founding pastor asked me to assist him in training his key men. That next step is to go through “101: Intro to Shepherding” as a cohort.

These eight to ten young men have a humility and hunger for God that is unique, come from very dysfunctional church backgrounds, and are committed to church growth God’s way.

While we don’t see all of them necessarily as future elders, we are convinced a deep dive into eldership will help both prepare those God has called to it and equip all to understand and follow God’s design for their own maturity and faithfulness in the church.

*For BER resources on the above topics, click on “Teaching in Small Groups,” “Toward a Shepherd’s Heart,” “Routine Shepherding,” “Acute Shepherding,” and “Prayer.”

We’d love to hear how you are using the School of the Shepherds curriculum. Contact us to let us know.