Can I Be a Non-Shepherding Pastor?

Personality and Weakness


As culture has shifted over the years, many young pastors have grown up in a church that does not emphasize the role of personal shepherding. We are used to seeing pastors of large churches create distance from the pulpit and their people. In that model, personal engagement in the lives of so many congregants feels paralyzing. Is it possible to serve a church effectively in a non-shepherding capacity? Pastors J.D. Greear, Bryan Chapell, and Mike McKinley consider the biblical responsibilities of a pastor to offer practical suggestions for faithful leadership in the local church. 

J.D. Greear is the Lead Pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Bryan Chapell is the Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois and former Chancellor of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Mike McKinley serves as senior pastor at Sterling Park Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia.


As you consider this discussion, how important do you think shepherding is to the effectiveness of pastoral leadership? Can someone be a pastor, but not a shepherd? If not, why? What is lost in the church if a pastor neglects the responsibility of shepherding?
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How would you describe the role of shepherding? What are some of the defining characteristics of an effective shepherd? How well do you shepherd your people? Are there ways you would like to improve? If so, what are they?
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1 Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV)

8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Bryan shared this passage to point out that pastors are called to share their lives in addition to sharing the gospel. There is no credibility with people apart from a heart connection with them. How have you found this to be true in your own ministry? How have you sought to create heart connections with your congregation? In what ways have you seen it strengthen the credibility of the gospel you preach?
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Bryan also pointed out that many young pastors today were raised in a church environment that lacked quality shepherding. So they have come to see it as an unfair expectation of their own pastoral ministries. What was your experience with pastors prior to your current ministry? Was shepherding modeled well for you? Do you know pastors who are effective shepherds? What stands out to you about them?
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Mike highlighted the importance of knowing your personality and working against your weaknesses for the sake of your congregation. Would you say you have a good understanding of your personal weaknesses? How have you sought to work against them? In what ways could you improve? What steps will you take to do so in the weeks ahead?
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One of the most important shepherding acts for any pastor is that of preparing to preach the Word of God truthfully each week. But the message lacks credibility if your people do not feel as though you know them deeply. Shepherding will look different for each pastor, but it is a crucial aspect of effective church leadership. Take some time to think about how you can more intentionally engage in the lives of your congregation. Don't ignore your weaknesses. Rather, offer them up to God and allow Him to lead you in His desires for you as a pastor. 


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