Thoughtful discipleship and compassionate shepherding are two indicators of a healthy and growing church. Discipleship is deepening and sharpening followers and servants of Jesus Christ. This kind of disciple-making/maturing happens in the preaching and teaching ministry of the church but also in the friendships, mentors and personal testimonies that we enjoy within the church fellowship. This can happen by teaching a class, sending a card, going to lunch, or praying for the needs of the church. We are all thoughtfully and intentionally to assist and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are beginning to establish one on one discipleship relationships and also expand small group discipleship. I truly believe that we are growing more healthy in this vital area of church life.
We are also called to shepherd God’s flock. Teaching is present in shepherding but it is not the leading ingredient. To shepherd is to care for, nurture, and encourage the sheep. It is demonstrating to the flock that they are known and loved in Christ by their brothers and sisters at Westminster. If discipleship is a school that we attend, shepherding is a family that we love. It is essential that the church feels like family; that we are known and still deeply loved.
Shepherding is like having a spiritual checkup by a loving Doctor that truly cares for your soul and knows you from the inside out. And that is why effective shepherding is so difficult. On the one hand spiritual maturity and compassion are required of those who shepherd. On the other hand the sheep must be willing to be known, loved and cared for. Many Christians have a great fear of letting others know who they really are and the deep issues of the heart that the struggle with. We strongly prefer others to think well of us and not accurately of us. It is only by understanding the gospel and our perfect righteousness in Christ that enables us to be honest about ourselves before others. A nurturing atmosphere of grace is required for a shepherding ministry to thrive. To be known and loved is the goal of shepherding. To lovingly minister tailor-made grace is the task of the shepherd.
We have formed Shepherding Teams to look after the flock of Westminster. These elder led teams will seek to enter your lives with grace and wisdom by means of phone calls, visits, shared meals, etc. They seek to deepen spiritual friendship and minister the sweet grace and wisdom of God in a personal way to you and your family. Welcome them. Receive them. Be honest with them. Follow them as they seek to lead you to green pastures and beside the quiet waters of grace.