Pastors and Sheep

After the pastor of my church resigned, my Sunday school class discussed what the role of a pastor is. I highlighted that the term comes from “shepherd” and that it is (apart from Ephesians 4:11) not used as a title for a Christian leadership position in the New Testament.

We then turned to the comparison between believers and sheep. Often the focus is on the tendency to lead and to follow. But being a city boy myself, I wondered how much of what we think this imagery means comes from actual familiarity with sheep, and how much is instead a result of starting with what is thought to be the spiritual point of the analogy in the Bible.

One participant in the class who had actual familiarity with sheep-herding mentioned the tendency of sheep, when scared, to huddle together, leading to the suffocation of some of the sheep.

If that isn’t a perfect description of what Christian churches sometimes do, I don’t know what is.

And that leads back to a great suggestion for what the role of a pastor should be: someone who gets the church to avoid the deadly “holy huddle” and instead move beyond or in spite of our fears.

I’m probably going to be preaching at my church sometime in the near future. Perhaps this theme of sheep and shepherds might be a good topic. But I’m also curious (since I expect the sermon can be recorded and I might share it here) what those who read this blog would be interested in hearing me preach on. Your suggestions would be welcome!

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  • Nick G

    It’s worth bearing in mind that the shepherd always intends to fleece the flock regularly, castrate most of the males in infancy, and slaughter its members as soon as this is more profitable than keeping them alive.

    • John MacDonald

      Maybe Dr. McGrath could start with Old Testament minimalism lol

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I would think that the pastor’s job is more like herding cats.

  • Scott P.

    “But I’m also curious (since I expect the sermon can be recorded and I
    might share it here) what those who read this blog would be interested
    in hearing me preach on.”

    The Mandaeans, of course.

  • charlesburchfield

    please preach about religious addiction and how one who is addicted might apply the 12 step program to aid recovery.

  • guest

    I’d be interested in the sheep thing. There’s that passage ‘the lords is my shephard…’
    Animal imgery in the bible more generally would be good. Maybe something about lions since that’s used for the devil and god? Or snakes.
    I’d like to know if you think animals have souls and if pets go to Heaven.