Shepherding Ministry – How To Do It
Ministry Position: The person engaged in shepherding ministry may be the pastor of a church, an elder in the church, a small group leader, a Sunday School or Bible study teacher, a discipler, a mentor, a parent, etc.
Responsible To: Anyone doing shepherding ministry is ultimately responsible to the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4).
Conditions for Serving: First and foremost, this person, also a sheep, must be part of God’s flock through a personal relationship with the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Loving the Chief Shepherd is a primary qualification for tending to His sheep (Jn. 21:15-17).
Purpose of this ministry: Tending to the spiritual welfare of believers over the course of time by watching over, guiding, and nurturing them, is intended to help the sheep become more Christ-like.
General Ministry Duties: (Scripture used below may be that which uses the example of the Chief Shepherd or may speak specifically of certain shepherds and are used here as a pattern for all shepherds.)
1. Loving the sheep:
* gather them to yourself and carry them close to your heart (Isa. 40:11)
* build a personal relationship with them wherein you know them and they know you (Jn. 10:14)
2. Serving the sheep:
* not in it for what you can get out of it but for what you can give to them (1 Pet. 5:2)
* willing to invest your life into the sheep even to the point of laying down your life for them (1 Thess. 2:7; Jn. 10:15)
3. Being an example to the sheep:
* lead by example, not force (1 Pet. 5:3) pattern yourself after the Chief Shepherd so you are a good example (1 Cor. 11:1)
4. Leading the sheep gently:
* not pushing them by being impatient, demoralizing, or dictating but rather gently guiding with patience, affirmation, and communication
* have a healthy balance between caring and leading (Isa. 40:11)
5. Equipping the sheep:
* teach them to be responsible so they can be discerning out in the world (Phil. 1:9-10; 1 Jn. 4:1), can triumph in spiritual warfare –awareness of danger, of the enemy (Eph. 6:10-18), and can feed themselves from the Word (Matt. 4:4; Col. 3:16)
* avoid developing a dependency on you so you don’t cripple the sheep from taking care of themselves when you aren’t around
* yet, remember that they are sheep who are prone to wander … even when they seem to be doing well, keep your eye on them, check in with them, watch over them, and be available
Specific Shepherding Ministry Duties:
1. Sheep can get confused when they are scattered and not able to find their way back. As a shepherd, go after the sheep when they stray. Don’t wait for or expect them to come back on their own.
2. An effective shepherd realizes that sometimes a visit would be beneficial. The shepherd also seeks to build an accountability with the sheep to help deter them from getting lost.
3. Feeding the sheep helps to strengthen and equip them for godly living and service. (Eph. 4:11-12) Without a good diet from the Word, the sheep will be undernourished and more susceptible to diseases.
4. An effective shepherd teaches, trains, and nurtures the sheep.
5. A shepherd needs to be observant and pay attention to the condition of the sheep. There will be times when the sheep need some extra attention.
6. An effective shepherd sometimes counsels, intervenes in times of crisis, and provides practical assistance as needed but also values the power of prayer in helping the person.
7. When the storms of life come, sheep can get skittish. Trials, attacks from the enemy, and too much change can immobilize them. They need to drink from quiet waters.
8. An effective shepherd listens and provides comfort. But, the shepherd also knows when it is time to spur them onward.
9. Sheep aren’t always observant. Sometimes they act out of ignorance and sometimes out of a naivety about the world around them. Sometimes they just don’t think a cliff is as steep as it is or that the waters are as deep as they are or that the briars really will stick to them and possibly hurt them.
10. As the Apostle Paul did, so must an effective shepherd constantly and passionately warn the sheep (Acts 20:28-30). The best safeguard is to consistently “preach the word; to be prepared in season and out of season; to correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).
11. The “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). “Savage wolves will come in among you” and “even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).
12. An effective shepherd oversees the flock, watching for predators, and chasing off any attackers.
The above article, “Shepherding Ministry: How To Do It,” is written by David Hunt. The article was excerpted from: www.mintools.com web site. June 2008
This material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.