Our series for Pastor & People for November 2014 is:
“You Need More Than a Church: You Need a Shepherd”


In our last episode we began a series called “You Need More than a Church; You Need a Shepherd.” With this series we hope to show that a shepherd is vital to the health of a church and that faithful shepherding is greatly rewarded.

What Does a Shepherd Do?

Let me answer that question with a reference to the single best book I know of on the subject: Timothy Witmer’s The Shepherd Leader. Witmer breaks shepherding down into a biblical and practical strategy to do four things on two levels. The four broad responsibilities of the shepherd are: know the sheep; feed the sheep; lead the sheep; and protect the sheep. The shepherd must do these four things on both a macro- and micro-level.

Knowing the sheep includes having significant personal interactions and relationships with the membership. Jesus says, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). The faithful shepherd takes the Lord’s words as his model. On the macro-level, the shepherd must know the congregation as a whole. The membership process and membership directory are crucial in achieving this broad knowledge of the flock. As Witmer puts it, “This is where shepherding begins.” On the micro-level shepherds must know people individually. Shepherds must be acquainted with their faith, their walk and their needs. Some form of visitation is necessary for this micro-level knowing (James 5; 1 Thes. 2).

Feeding the sheep refers to teaching them God’s word. Macro-level feeding includes any large group public teaching as on Sunday mornings, during Sunday school or via something like a church newsletter. Micro-level feeding occurs in more intimate, smaller settings. It includes one-on-one discipleship, small groups and counseling.

Leading the sheep involves vision setting, clarifying the church’s mission and purpose, and establishing policies. Worship, education, fellowship and evangelism may all contribute to macro-level leading from the shepherds. The most important micro-level approach to leading may be setting an example for the flock (1 Pet. 1:3). Witmer writes, “Failure here sabotages the rest” of the shepherds’ ministry. The shepherds should set examples in their relationship with Christ, in their relationship with their families, and in their ministry to the church family.

Finally, protecting the sheep requires the shepherds to keep the sheep from the various dangers they face. At the macro-level, protection includes public warnings from the word of God. Micro-level protection requires leaving the ninety-nine safe sheep to search for the one lost lamb. Protection requires shepherds to know the value of a good fence and vigilance at watching over the people.

The music for this podcast is entitled, “Broken Hearts,” which is an instrumental produced and edited by Dalmond Bodden, who also helps produce this podcast.

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Thabiti M Anyabwile

Thabiti M Anyabwile

Thabiti is one of the pastors of Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC and the president of The Crete Collective. He is the author of several books and as an introvert enjoys quiet things at home.

The Front Porch

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