Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A provocative post

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.


Matt said...

That's a great post, Duke...I'm going to have to think through the implications. Biblical terms, but we've tended to "comfort-ize" them. I think he's heading in the right direction. We have, for the most part, lost our missional mind-set in the local and universal church. We recapture that at the leadership level. Unfortunately, I saw many peers in the learning part of ministry preparation and they were very unmissional in their approach to study...and it's transferred to local church leadership and on up until they get the gold watch. But that's just my opinion...

andrea tinsley said...

something to think about...or something that i've been doing alot of thinking about recently. so how do we fix the mess we have gotten ourselves into? and change the viewpoint of the whole? i guess the real question is, are we willing to have huge uncomfortable earthquakes to our quaint way of life. and i guess the question i must ask myself is, am i driven for His mission? and the sad truth is that all too often i work for the a self-centered comfortable mission that sees plainly the problems in leadership but disregards the same types of problems in myself.