Retooling: From “Acts Of Kindness To Institutions” – How Did We Get There?

The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part X


Today my blogs in this series shift from the evangelist to the shepherd/pastor in the five fold ministry.  A shepherd majors in “acts of kindness”, nurturing, caring, disciplining, developing, sustaining, maintaining, actually walking the walk of faith in daily life.  The evangelist births the “new born” in Christ; the shepherd nurtures and develops that “child of God” towards the likeness and image of Jesus Christ.  He walks out the spiritual walk with this new toddler in everyday practical terms.  Bottom line: he is “there” for them.

We, who have been Christians for quite a while, can look back at those “spiritual” mothers, fathers, and mentors who have profoundly influenced our spiritual lives with great gratitude.  Their “sacrificial acts of kindness” exemplified the Christian walk in Jesus.

I truly believe that “shepherding” is a calling and gift from God. It is instilled in the believer in Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the ultimate shepherd, even when suffering on the cross made sure he told John to take care of his mother.  He was putting in line the Church’s role to take care of the widows in his day. “Caring” is the heart beat of the shepherd/pastor.

I cannot stress enough how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be caring for one another in the Body of Christ, older men mentoring young men in the faith, older women mentoring the young ladies, reaching out to one another to meet needs, sacrificially.  That is what “body” ministry is all about, and a shepherd’s passion, desire, and point of view is to meet the needs of members of the Body, the Family of God, and nurture the young in the faith toward maturity in Christ.  Shepherding is the backbone to spiritual development in Jesus.

The “acts of kindness” by people who “care” are powerful tools of ministry whose fruits are life changing.  Physical and mental development is central to my teaching as a public school teacher at the Middle School level. The giggly, hyperactive, braces wearing 12 yr. old girl proclaiming “he’s so cute” turns into a 14 year old girls who just stares at guys in awe, speechless. It is developmental.  A Shepherd majors in “developmental” strategies to help a young believer in Christ “develop” into the likeness of Christ, such an important cog in the five fold ministry.

I wonder how Church who allows their influence of developing people for Jesus to slip through their fingers when they begin to “institutional” their efforts.  In an earlier blogs I have shown how the “C” in YMCA has been lost and has been replaced as a place where you can hang out if you’re gay as portrayed in the Village People’s song “Y.M.C.A.” which is played at sporting events all across America. Many hospitals carry the names of their “religious roots and founders” only to have lost the “religious” influenced that birthed them.  We have become accustomed in allowing institutions to take care of our widows (nursing homes), our homeless (shelters and Rescue Missions), our sick (huge health care systems), our poor (State welfare systems).  The church as an institution has reneged its influence to social and government institutions thus forfeiting the Christian influence that was the backbones of many of these institutions when first conceived.

How does a ministry become an institution?  When it looses its influence of “personal care” for “efficiency”.  As an institution gets huge, its quality of personal care diminishes.  I have seen it in institutions in and out of church across the world.   How do we keep a ministry from becoming an institution? Simple, by allowing the “shepherding” or pastoral component of the five fold ministry to come back to the Body of Christ as it was originally intended.  Just as one-one-one evangelism is the most effective form of evangelism, so one-on-one personalized ministry is still the most effective form of shepherding or pasturing.

Today’s church “pastor” (office, profession) can’t be the proper shepherd it flocks needs if he/she is to be all things to all men.  The person filling the office or profession can’t be an evangelist, shepherd (counselor), Bible teacher, spiritual prophet, and apostolic over seer all at the same time to everyone.  That produces burnout, frustration, and hurt.  We need to allow the five fold back into the make up of the body of Christ.  We need the “shepherd” to return to shepherding its flock.