In a conservative Christian culture whereby the focus is preaching, shepherding has been left on the side lines. For most pastors, the time and effort that visiting and looking after people take away from the ‘preaching’ preparation means that shepherding is neglected.
Witmer challenges leaders to plan and implement a Shepherds ministry.
The pastors role is far more than just preaching and teaching. Alongside feeding the sheep a Shepherd also should know his sheep; lead his sheep and protects his sheep.
Witmer is also very practical. In chp 9 he gives 7 Essential Elements of an effective shepherding ministry (1. Must be biblical; 2. Must be systematic; 3. Comprehensive; 4. Relational; 5. Include the four shepherding functions of knowing, feeding, leading and protecting; 6. Accountability; 7. Prayer) as well as suggestions for beginning to implement one.
Witmer wisely forms his theology around the idea that the shepherd ministry is not just a pastor responsibility but a leadership responsibility. It should be flowing OUT from the eldership and elders must be involved with this process. Witmer’s book definitely espouses team ministry – which is a great thing.
This is a very practical book and one which will be useful in forming your approaching to making sure that all people in your church are indeed shepherded.