One of the spaces I read on-line is www.emergentwesleyan.com
It's the place where my college friends and colleagues in ministry hang their hat for talk about the church and ministry.
A guy I've known for some time posted the following about the metaphors of family and shepherds from a book he's been reading. I thought his insights were provocative. You can read the posts in context by going to http://www.emergentwesleyan.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2515#2515
Paul D. Borden in his book entitled Hit the Bullseye says: "Two major metaphors in denominational culture inform behavior that is ultimately destructive to effectiveness in ministry. The first metaphor is that of a shepherd. The second biblical metaphor that produces corrupted values is family..." He goes on to say: "...The Christian Church has so imbibed this dsyfunctional idea of family, not only at the congregational level but at all denominational levels as well, that we have lost the concept of mission. One reason we are often unwilling to create specific goals and measures of effectivenss is that we know that many in our "family" will not measure up. Yet if we are committed to mission we must tell such people that if they cannot change they no longer have positions in leadership. Such actions go against our current value of family. We say these people are part of the family so we cannot embarrass them or hurt them. As a result, we let our institutions develop a codependent habit of protection, thereby avoiding missional goals that demand accountability."
As for the role of the Shepherd, Paul D. Borden writes: "The problem is the current image or description that we invest in the term. Our understanding of what shepherds are to be and do, in our congregations, is far more romantic than who shepherds were or what they did in biblical times. Shepherds were entrepreneurs who raised sheep for their livelihood, for food and clothing. Good shepherds led their sheep into green pastures and by still waters in order to obtain three results. They sheared the sheep (not fleeced the flock), ate the sheep, or mated them for reproduction. Sheep were led into zones of comfort to prepare them for zones of discomfort. In other words sheep were expected to produce a profit for the shepherd. The shepherd took care of the sheep, not for the sheep's benefit but for the shepherd's needs. In congregational life our declining institutions think that shepherds take care of sheep for the sheep's benefit, rather then to benefit the Chief Shepherd by accomplishing God's mission. The paradox of Christianity is that sheep are most fulfilled when they are risking life for the Chief Shephard rather than being pampered by appointed shepherds."
Hoping your day provides you with joy and a glimpse of God.