Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shepherd the Flock that is Among You

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 . . .
-- 1 Peter 5:1-2

I have heard more than a few times that a preacher ought to preach for the crowd he wants. There's a grain of truth in that but it's mostly balderdash. Preach to the crowd you have. They're the ones who are there, listening.

Preach as their pastor, not merely as their preacher. (Let the reader understand.)

Shepherd the flock you've got, not the one you want.
Shepherd the flock among you, the one that's messy and real and immediate, not the one reducible to "likes" and re-tweets, not the one in Podcastopia.
Shepherd the flock, don't ignore them, order them around, nag them, demoralize them, treat them as pawns or puppets or inconveniences. Shepherd them to and in Jesus.

There's a lot more that can be said on this, and Peter says a lot more in the ensuing verses, but I suppose some pastors (like me) need to remember the call to "shepherd the flock of God that is among you" on a regular basis.

10 comments:

Pastor Randy said...

The reminder is good. I recently came to the conviction that I often loved the 'idea' of a church rather than the church I have. The reminder to shepherd the flock among me was and is helpful.

Jared said...

Yes, Bonhoeffer's "wish-dream" stuff in *Life Together* is really related here, I think.

Pastor Randy said...

Agreed. I actually used that in the blog post I wrote about it!

co_heir said...

I needed to read this. Thank you.

JAy. said...

Add to that reminder to shepherd in Jesus the flock that you have. If people need some marriage counseling, at least tie the discussion to God, not just what non-religious experts say.

Anonymous said...

what if shepherding has very little to do with preaching? i think pastoring is about walking together making who you preach to of small importance and who you are touched by the thing on the father's heart

Jared said...

Anonymous, I don't agree that pastoring has "very little" to do with preaching, but this post is not about the importance of preaching, but pastoring. The initial lines are a caution against the pastor who only "pastors" through preaching.

Nathan Blazek said...

I blogged this topic awhile back... About how Christ preached to the multitudes and told them the hard truth. "To take up their cross". He wasnt preaching an easy message, but from the thousands he got 12 disciples who he loved and grew. Its a great way to look at "gaining disciples"!

Anonymous said...

Amen. "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!" Acts 20:28-31a

Fr. Kevin Spaeth said...

Amen to this post. I had a homiletics professor who always said, "If you could preach your sermon anywhere, it probably isn't a very good sermon." We have been placed where we are for a reason (and it may be one that God only knows), and to me, preaching to a hypothetical group smacks of "my will" rather than "thy will be done." On a given Sunday, the Holy Ghost has placed those people there in order that he might work through you and in them. To use Peter as an example, his message was tailored to the crowd actually gathered at Pentecost - those who had crucified Christ. He preached to what they were, not what they one day might become (though of course pointing them to it, and the grace needed to get there).