As we are a discipleship-oriented church, some people may confuse shepherding with discipleship. Discipleship is well-defined in the Life-on-Life material. Shepherding is overseeing the life of members, and member families, in a holistic way without necessarily getting into day-to-day equipping of those members. In other words:
- A discipler would equip a man to have a personal worship time. A shepherd would make sure he knows where to get equipped.
- A shepherd speaks truth into the lives of members, but does not necessarily massage it in fully, as a discipler would.
- A shepherd exhorts members to have real accountability, but does not necessarily play an active role in weekly accountability.
You get the idea. The shepherd is herding and watching. The discipler is getting his hands messier week to week. The shepherd is discerning the lay of the land and whether or not there are storm clouds on the horizon. That is different work over a larger area. That is why we want to give each elder, together with other elders, a definable piece of land to cultivate; a city.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. Acts 20:28