Thursday, June 05, 2008

Shepherds or CEOs?

The comparison is not new. Nor is the point one which has only recently been made by many within the church and especially among pastors. Even on this blog I have made it clear in posts past that I am no fan of the bigger better faster model of the church. We not only need to be changing what we are doing and how we are doing it, but we need to be careful about the words we use to describe it. When we speak of "branding" a ministry or "retooling" our "programming" we have implicitly imbibed not only the language but even the thought patterns of Wall Street and Madison Avenue. Christianity Today has recently published a wonderful little article that touches on our approach to leadership in the church which also tangentially addresses the language we use to describe our work. So many have heard the Shepherd vs CEO comparison and have nodded knowingly about the need to be more like a shepherd, and yet so few are engaging in the hard work of tending a flock instead of attending shareholder meetings. When will we stop fretting over numbers? When will we stop evaluating ministry success by the size of their arena?

If you are serious about being a shepherd, begin thinking like a shepherd and using terminology more consistent with shepherding. We tend and we feed. And what is that food that we are to feed our sheep? Christ! Moralism, while it tastes good in your mouth, does little to fill a belly. Permissiveness and enabling may keep the sheep content for now, but since they are effectively leading themselves, they will end up feeding on the wrong things, drinking from contaminated springs, and bedding down among wolves. Shepherds mend. Shepherds chastise. Shepherds sing over their flock. Shepherds answer to the owner of the sheep. And when the owner calls a shepherd, he does not call him to provide quality programming for the sheep. He does not require of the shepherd a long-range plan for peak efficiency. He does not speak to the shepherd of "metrics". He asks, "Do you love me?" And if you will answer yes, his response is "Feed my sheep."


M. Jay Bennett said...

Excellent post Matt! You made my heart sing with that second paragraph.

GUNNY said...

Wild thang, you also make my heart sing.

I am also reminded of Piper's, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals.

Matthew Bradley said...

Thanks guys! I still haven't read Piper's book. I should put that on the list. I'm not sure what his thesis is (what does he mean by professional?). I'm sure I could learn quite a bit from it, though.

Mike said...

Well said.