The reason I am so excited about this is because I have seen it work. It was just before Christmas of 2008 when I looked at my office phone and realized I had a message. I dialed in and listened. On the other end of the line there was a voice that said, “Hello, This is Gordon. I’d like to come by and talk to you.” I called him back and he stopped by. As I usually do in first conversations like that, I presented the gospel. Gordon bowed his head and asked Christ to be His Savior.
There was only one problem. Gordon wasn’t from the south. He was from Vermont. While he had gone to church some as a much smaller child, he had very little church background that he really connected with. I knew that if he didn’t have some shepherding, he’d be picked off very quickly.
It just so happened that earlier in that summer we had added a man to our staff to do hispanic ministry. His name was Doug Rogers and he had planted several churches in Mexico. He had planted those churches by engaging in the best kind of shepherding: one-on-one discipleship. We had just launched this approach a couple of weeks earlier in our church, so I decided that Gordon would be my first guinea pig. To make a long story short, it has been my privilege to meet with Gordon on a regular basis for the last 2 years and take him through disicpleship. He has grown by leaps and bounds. It has been so exciting to watch. And there has been fruit.
He got excited about his faith and started telling his dad that he needed to take discipleship too. As a result I had the opportunity to pray with his dad and then disciple him. Gordon has begun to serve in the church. He reads and studies the Bible on his own and is actively looking for someone whom he can disciple as well.
I am thankful for the change that God has made in his life, but I am also thankful for the change that God has brought in me. You know for years I did ministry with a vague sense of failure. I would see people pray to receive Christ and then watch them fade in their commitment. I knew I wasn’t getting the job done, but I really didn’t know what to do about it. I was a frustrated shepherd. But since I have gotten involved in life-on-life discipleship, I have this strong sense that this is what ministry really is all about. It’s what I should have been doing all along.
And the reason is not that I have found some new method or fad to temporarily excite me about ministry. It’s because I truly believe that this is what the Bible means when it commands me and you to “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you.” Which just leads me to this question: Are you a shepherd?