When I gave our deacons questionnaires to evaluate my ministry, I also gave self-appraisal forms to our shepherds. One of the questions asked them to rate their ministries as excellent, good, fair, or poor. 52% of the shepherds rated their ministry, “Fair”, 23% “Good,” and 25% “Poor”. None rated their ministries as “Excellent”. I think they’re being too modest. Another question asked “Is there anything the church can do to help you improve your ministry?” Most didn’t indicate anything. Some said that the current training programs were good enough and others said that they need to improve their ministries on their own. However, some did suggest things to help shepherds. Several mentioned the need for more shepherd training. I’ll be meeting with zone shepherds in a couple weeks to deal with this issue.
Personally, I feel that the class training we have now is sufficient. We offer a five course series and special training once a year for shepherds. I don’t think that more classroom training will make them any better. After basic training, shepherds need to learn from experience by actually doing ministry. Physical training alone does not make a Taekwondo student better. They need to spar and actually fight. Similarly, training alone does not make a soldier. Combat experience does.
Shepherds who have completed the basic series should not expect the church to offer more Bible classes – they should learn to teach themselves. When I was a layperson I made it a habit to visit Christian bookstores regularly. When I browsed the shelves I usually found books that addressed the problems I had at the moment. I recommend shepherds to do the same. If someone needs more Bible study they can take Bible correspondence courses. The Web provides an almost infinite source of Bible information. Shepherds should learn to take advantage of it.
One of our shepherds was invited to a church to lead a seminar on the house church. The pastor of the church sent me the audio tape of the lecture. In one of the tapes a class member asks: “What does your church offer for shepherds to improve themselves in ministry?” Our deacon said, “I think 5 courses are enough for shepherd training. Afterwards, they should teach themselves by reading the Bible. I think that Sunday worship service is also a good place to learn.”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I was so proud of him.
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