RESTORING THE MODEL OF SHEPHERDS AND SHEEP
The analogy of shepherds and sheep is one Jesus used often. The “Good Shepherd” made disciples, and told us to do likewise. There’s a connection between being shepherds and making disciples no amount of teaching without shepherding can provide. Jesus said His sheep would “hear His voice and follow Him,” and they did. Their Shepherd’s command made sense, and could be applied in their own lives, because they were also able to follow His example. The Good Shepherd balanced teaching with leading, and He made disciples. There is a message here for us.
The shepherd’s job is to lead his sheep through a balance of command and example. Telling sheep to do something without then leading confuses them, because sheep both hear and follow their shepherds. One of the beauties of our Good Shepherd is He never commanded us to do anything without setting an example for us Himself. The model today’s Christianity sets is one of teaching without example, and that’s why we refer to it as Classroom Christianity. The sheep hear. Most even understand the command. But they struggle to follow because of a lack of example..
Perhaps this is why so many polls tell us while we’ve been fairly effective at converting people, we’re falling far short of the Great Commission. Preaching may bring sheep into the fold, but it is a balance of leading and teaching that keeps them there and growing. If sheep are led into conversion through what they hear, but left there for lack of a discipleship model to see, they will remain what the Writer of Hebrews would call “babes”. Jesus led His sheep out in to the community to practice even as He taught them, and He made disciples of men. Temple leaders, both then and now, hold to the flawed thinking that teaching and Bible study alone will accomplish this, and subsequently disciples are not being produced.
Shepherds and sheep in the marketplace is the model Jesus left us, and we believe He is moving us once again towards that model. Men preached to and taught without being led into real life eventually become bored and disconnect. The polls tell us this is the case with over 90% of them in our temples today. They are now, as they were then, the greatest untapped resource on planet earth, and we are dedicated to finding them and letting them know they are gifted, they matter, and getting them hooked up with a shepherd who will be able to guide them back to the path of maturity.