Church leaders aren’t sports coaches or teachers – they’re shepherds. The Bible often mentions the role of the shepherd, but what’s important to learn is what makes sheep follow a shepherd.
It’s frustrating trying to figure out why church members follow some leaders, but not others. The answer is some are shepherds, while others are just leaders.
The difference might not seem obvious, but there are certain traits that make people want to follow. It’s those traits that make church members feel engaged and keep them coming back.
They Feel Uplifted And Encouraged
Sheep follow a shepherd because the shepherd uplifts and encourages them. Instead of making them feel judged, they feel welcome, accepted and hopeful. This is part of the job of a shepherd.
For instance, Fresh Fire Church of Hildebran sought to uplift the local community by holding a drive-thru prayer event. The idea was to allow anyone who wanted to pray and be prayed for to participate. It was an uplifting event designed to bring everyone together.
It’s easier than you might think to encourage your sheep like a shepherd. For instance, send out a weekly email newsletter with short prayers, scripture, and even a few words to acknowledge volunteers and members who may be sick or going through hard times. You could even post daily messages on social media or your website.
The Shepherd Feels Like One Of Them
Sometimes church leaders go astray in trying to motivate their members. They become more like coaches versus shepherds. Church members tend to see coaches as above them. Sheep follow shepherds because the shepherd feels like one of them. They participate in events with them and they talk to them like a friend versus a leader. Shepherds tend to be in the middle of the action, while coaches often just provide guidance from the sidelines.
They Receive Real Guidance
Shepherds don’t just preach. They guide their flock. It’s one thing to simply tell church members to do or not to do something. What makes shepherds stand out from other church leaders is they work to guide sheep down the right path. If the sheep stray, they make notice and work to guide them back. It’s a different style of leadership that seems more personal. It’s also what makes sheep follow.
The Shepherd Listens And Seeks To Understand
If a shepherd doesn’t know their sheep, they’re not able to lead effectively. Sheep follow a shepherd that takes the time to not only listen to them but to also understand their concerns, fears, ideas and even hopes. After all, it’s the people who build the church. When a shepherd listens, it’s much easier to build a church that meets the spiritual needs of its members.
The Shepherd Teaches The Sheep To Lead
Shepherds can’t lead alone. In fact, when church leaders try to take on everything, they burn out. There’s a reason why churches need volunteers. Sheep follow because they’re also taught how to lead. They’re given the freedom and respect to help the shepherd with various tasks, such as visiting the sick (especially in larger churches), heading up community events and helping new members find their place in the church.
The Shepherd Makes Hard Choices But Explains Why
It’s hard for church members to accept when major decisions are made without their approval. However, shepherds have to make difficult choices sometimes that won’t please every member. Sheep accept change for one reason – their shepherd takes the time to explain those hard decisions and guides the sheep through the change.
Even when it’s something as simple as changing to a new style of music, a shepherd knows it might not go over well if the change just happens. It goes back to being a shepherd that listens to their flock’s needs. By talking with and not just to the members, a shepherd is more likely to have sheep that follow versus stray.
Ready for your sheep to follow your lead? Start by uplifting them with daily content from your church’s website.