The imagery the New Testament uses of the relationship between pastors and the congregation is hard for me to experientially understand. I am not a shepherd and have never been around sheep. And so, when I come to understand my calling, I do not come with a lot of experience. But I have read much about it. I have studied the concept of shepherding sheep. I have heard people describe how sheep act and how a loving shepherd responds to sheep. And the more I read about it, the more the concept of what it means to be a faithful pastor is driven home in my mind. After all, this is directly what us pastors are called to do. The Apostle Peter gave the elders in 1 Peter 5:1-3 this direct command:
"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock."
Over the past few years, we have been seeking ways in our church to up the responsibility of membership, but also to display our desire to shepherd more effectively. I simply want to be the best shepherd I can be in the dependence of the Holy Spirit under the direction of Jesus, the Chief Shepherd.
One of the latest ideas I am trying is to schedule a time to sit down with every member of our church. This is a huge commitment, but worth all the energy it will take. I hope and pray that my door is always open to anyone who has a need. But I am trying to be more intentional with those that have taken the step of church membership. In these meetings, we are going to be talking about the following six questions they have been given to answer.
- Do you think CBC is helping you grow spiritually? How can we be more effective to help you grow spiritually? How do you think we can do better?
- How can we help engage you more relationally with others at CBC? Do you care to be more involved?
- Are you in a small group? Would you like to be? Why? What would you hope to gain from being involved in a small group?
- What are your current joys and sorrows concerning CBC?
- Are there any sermon topics you feel would be good for our church to study and why?
- How can I more effectively pray for you?
My goal is to simply provide the forum to listen to those in our church. I want them to know I care for them. I want them to know they are valued. I want them to know I have concern for them. And I want them to know I desire to listen to them. That doesn't mean we will change or do everything they suggest, but I want them to know their opinions count. But mostly, I want to find out how I can better help them grow spiritually.
The author of Hebrews gives some very specific instructions to people in a church. He tells them to . . .
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Hebrews 13:17)
I have created these meetings because I want to keep better watch over their souls. I know I will give an account for them, so I want to do due diligence in creating ways to help them grow spiritually. I do believe it will also help me pray for them more strategically.
If you are a member of CBC and have not signed up for these meetings yet, please do so. Let's get it on the calendar so you can help me help you. If you are not a member of CBC and you do go to our church, I hope something like this might be inviting to you. If you go to some other church, please make yourself available to the leadership of the church to express some of those questions I posed above. Please do not do it in a demeaning or chastising way, but out of a heart of wanting to be shepherded.