Shepherds as public leaders

Effective church shepherding structures may well have each shepherd with a sub-flock, as opposed to considering the shepherds collectively, as though they are all “over” the entire flock.  One church I know of uses the term “under-shepherds”; the implied structure there could be very effective, although I suspect that the under-shepherd is under a single (head, or “senior”) shepherd or pastor.  The one-person-at-the-top model is certainly not the most widely biblically supported one, although Timothy and Titus might have ministered in such an arrangement.

Just as I do not believe that deacons must be leaders (some areas of deacon-type service do not require leadership “gifts”), I do not believe that every spiritual shepherd must be a public leader.  Pastoring, literally speaking, is tending, pasturing, and perhaps pointing flocks to water, but not necessarily with the public charisma that goes with proclaiming, teaching, and preaching.  However, surely a shepherd will have something to offer the gathered saints from time to time.  It is important that shepherds speak words of admonishment, words of response to lessons and scriptures, and words of worship.

If the shepherds are not able to lead musically and are not naturally inclined along the lines of public leadership, they still might be given opportunities to share orally.  It is important that the congregation actually be led by its spiritual leaders, and that includes influence in the assembly.  Don’t let it be only the song leader, the preacher, and the guy who makes announcements doing all the public stuff.

Announcements, by the way, when they spring from the heart and voice of a caring shepherd, can be transformed into more than mere church business:  the sharing of such information can powerfully unite a gathered family of believers when the communication is handled by a genuinely spiritually oriented shepherd, or by any sensitive “announcer” who has the pulse of the church in his heart.


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