The 4-Fold Role of the Shepherd
Experience a quantum leap in your ministry effectiveness
At a church of 5,000 in California the Men’s Minister, Wes Brown, (yes, full time) experienced a quantum leap in ministry effectiveness (from 137 to 750 men in weekly in small groups) when he changed his leadership model from “teaching” to “shepherding.”
In the beginning of his ministry he recruited teachers to lead his small groups. Success was modest. Then he realized that what his men really needed was someone who cared about them…personally.
All his new leaders had to display the heart of a shepherd. And, over a span of time, he let the existing leaders who could teach but not shepherd gracefully bow out.
So what makes a shepherd’s heart? The answer is found in Zechariah 11:15-16….
Then the LORD said to me, “Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd.” This will illustrate how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for the sheep that are threatened by death, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy.
Notice the 4-fold role of a good shepherd by looking at the inverse of the worthless shepherd….
1. He will care for the sheep. “Threatened by death” suggests caring in a way that leads to eternal life.
2. He will look after the young. Some youth ministers are now suggesting that the age segregation of our youth has unduly isolated teenagers from the adult world and sometimes, catastrophically, from their own parents. Young men, especially, need to be around older men with wisdom.
3. He will heal the injured. My basic rule for discipleship is: Love your weak men, and disciple the strong. A good shepherd creates a safe place where men with broken wings can heal.
4. He will feed the healthy. Two errors: To kick men out of the nest too soon, and to not challenge men to get out of the nest when it’s time. “Disciple the strong” means that once a man passes from “sick model” to “well model” he needs to grow. If you don’t help him, he will go to another church. We’ve all heard it said or said it ourselves: “I just didn’t feel like I was being fed there.” A good shepherd will “feed” the healthy.
This year, why not consider changing your leadership paradigm from a teaching model to a shepherding model. See if you don’t experience a bump in your ministry effectiveness. By the way: This principle is interdisciplinary, so why not suggest it as a church-wide idea rather than just for the men’s ministry.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,