In the February 8 edition of Southern Seminary’s newspaper, “Towers,” Dr. Ray Van Neste (Assistant professor of Christian studies; director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University in Jackson, TN; and elder at Cornerstone Community Church) answers three questions on pastoral ministry regarding the shepherding function of the pastor. I would encourage the reader to read his responses to all three questions, but have included question two and his response in this post because I found it particularly insightful:
Q: During the Puritan era in England, America and even beyond, it [shepherding] certainly was a major pastoral emphasis. Where did we lose the shepherding pastor and replace him with the professional minister?
A: I don’t know enough to speak real authoritatively, but there are a few things that seem obvious. Greg Wills talks about when you come to the early 20th century, there was a move from purity to pragmatism or “efficiency” is the word he uses, I think. This kind of ministry (shepherding) is not efficient. When you move to a more program-driven, efficiency model, then this is going to begin to slide. You find evidence of it (shepherding ministry) in the 1950s, but as the business and efficiency model continued to grow, this fell out. It can’t fit along with all the other things that are crowding in, particularly the CEO mentality. Then you also have that idea that (the pastor) is too important to do this. And of course, it is hard to shepherd, so we look for other ways out. It’s easier to preach against adultery than it is to sit down with a man who has walked out on his family and rebuke him and call him to repentance.