In a multitude of people is a king's honor, but in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince
One of the most obvious shepherding methods of Jesus—albeit almost totally ignored today—is the fact that Christ chose 12 to disciple and share His life with closely. While He preached to the masses, He spent most of His time with these men and staked the future of His ministry on these 12 (as it turned out 11). Apparently, pastors today just don’t believe in that method, even though it is what the Scriptures clearly portray. Maybe they don’t think that method will be effective and maybe they are just so blinded by traditional ministry methods, they can read about Jesus’s method without even noticing. Yet they are esteemed to be experts on Jesus and the Scriptures. I’m sure there are many reasons why pastors today would never consider ministering like this. Like most politicians many are in it for self-promotion and money and have no desire for the self-sacrificing ministry this would require. Like politicians they would rather just preach to the masses and keep it simple and try to look and sound good from the pulpit. In contrast, Jesus as the model shepherd was willing to lay down His life for the sheep.
Since political pastors are so interested in numbers, I would like to examine the possible effects of the shepherding method of Jesus mathematically. He started out with just 12 disciples and trained them for about 3 years. Since we cannot be as effective as Jesus, let’s calculate a man training 12 disciples for 4 years and the trained disciples repeating that process for 10 times, which would be for 40 years. Here is what it would look like:
After the ninth time, the shepherds would run out of people to disciple. By the tenth, time the disciples would far exceed the number of people on the earth. Yet, apparently, most pastors don’t think His method of shepherding is effective for numbers since they don’t bother to use it.
One of the objections the political pastors would no doubt raise to this is that they could not find twelve disciples to shepherd. They could start with whatever number they have. If this was all the pastoral ministry was about, instead of just doing a simple sermon once a week, it would change the church rather quickly. What if you could just find one person to disciple and that one person discipled only one person and this process was repeated every four years ten times? Here are the numbers:
By the tenth time you would have over a 1000 trained disciples in forty years—not just people who had listened to boring sermons. How many pastors have “pastored” a church and after 30 years still didn’t have 1000 trained disciples—because they never discipled anyone? This is not a bad return for your one disciple after 40 years. Repeating this 33 times would reach more than the population of the world. After 33 times, you would have 8,589,934,592 disciples. That would take 132 years if everyone discipled one person every four years. We have just blown 2,000 years without many getting trained in any meaningful way! Can pastors not even disciple one person every four years and teach them to do the same? By the way, you do not have to be an official pastor to disciple someone else. You just have to be a mature believer.
Years ago, shortly after I got saved, I led my best friend to the Lord. Shortly afterwards his brother got saved by our influence, and then their father. I moved away for several years and then moved back. By this time both of the bothers were married and their wives were saved. Also their children were Christians, and now some of them are getting ready to have their own families. It suddenly occurred to me what a chain reaction I had started without even trying. As a new believer, I never attempted to disciple my best friend. However, since I left Bible college when I was about 4 years old in the Lord, I have always tried to disciple one person at a time. Most of those people I have lost contact with. Only in heaven will I know the full extent of all the time I invested in those people. I am not a pastor; I am just a common believer who believes in discipling at least one person at a time whenever possible, and I leave the results up to the Lord. I will never know on this side of heaven all the results.
The reason pastors won’t follow the biblical pattern is they would lose all their perks like being popular and getting a paycheck—and because people tolerate unbiblical methods and even pay for the system abuse. Therefore, the current method of shepherding—preaching at the sheep once a week—is going to have to die either from not generating enough younger people or die violently from the coming persecution as our nation becomes more anti-Christian. We know it will not die willingly. We can clearly see our government coming against and beginning to persecute the churches, but can we see that the old systems must be destroyed anyway if Christ’s methods are ever to be implemented? Can we see that many church leaders will cling to a false method of shepherding to preserve their positions just like most politicians will to perpetuate a corrupt political system for their own aggrandizement? May the Lord have mercy on them and their flocks.
Many would, of course, point out that Jesus did preach to the masses. I would agree. However, those masses were unsaved people He was trying to evangelize. Most people pastors preach to are saved. After a person gets saved, he needs the milk and the meat of the Word through teaching—not preaching. I have made clear in my book The Church Pattern: Ezekiel’s Temple that the position of pastor that we have come to know in churches is man-made and not a legitimate office at all. It is the pastors who have hindered the work of shepherding the flock.
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “as I live,” says the Lord God, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”—therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them”