Written by cycleguy on September 25th, 2019

This post is a little bit of both worlds: the world of the “big church” and the world of “I’m a shepherd.” They will intertwine so I hope I don’t totally confused you. 🙂

When I started on my journey as a pastor while I was still in college (1972), I admit to total “duncity.” I know that is not a word but that is the way I would describe myself. Clueless might make more sense. What did I know? It was the summer following my Sophomore year and I was asked to preach at a country church-Mt Camel Christian Church in Mt. Sterling, KY. It was 100 miles away from the school. I worked all week and then would head down either sometime Saturday or very early Sunday morning. It was aptly named…it was at the top of a mountain.

As I graduated and became more acclimated to the pastor’s life, I began to see that I was to be a shepherd of the people. I took that seriously, sometimes too seriously, at the sake of my family. I was gone a lot. I didn’t know any better, plus that was the day and age of the visiting pastor. Office work all morning and visiting in the afternoon and many evenings. In my mind I was shepherding my people.

Then came Church, Inc. That was the time in the 90s when being a pastor switched gears. We were no longer shepherds; we were CEO’s. How can I say this? EPIC FAIL for me. And in my mind EPIC FAIL for the church as a whole. I’m not going to mention any names of the gurus, but being a pastor was no longer about being a shepherd but being the “chief vision-giver” of the church. Frankly, I despise that moniker. For one, I don’t work well in a vacuum. I dream best when surrounded by others who can dream as well. Batting ideas off each other. Seeking God’s purpose and plan more than my own.  Not doing things and making decisions unilaterally (although I sometimes have too) but including others in the dreaming and planning process.

Somewhere along the line I came full circle. The best part? I became a shepherd again. Granted I don’t go like I used to. Safety issues (translate that #MeToo, etc)  have changed the way I do ministry. I no longer see females alone, in my office or in their house or at a meal in a restaurant. If they can’t say it with Jo around, they don’t need to be telling me. (She or someone will at least be in the building if I meet with them at the office). But being a shepherd has allowed me to once again adopt something I read from Skye Jethani’s book, Immeasurable:

When I enter the room, I represent the presence of God.

That is especially true of visitation in a hospital or nursing home. I am Jesus to many- and honestly?- that is a very scary thought. But it is true. I am their shepherd and I represent Jesus. No CEO type pastor who sits in an ivory tower; is isolated from people; or looks down on people from “the sacred office” can say that.  I had to learn the hard way that I was wired to be a shepherd.

I would rather represent Jesus any day than some stuffy Church, Inc organization. You can’t put a price on people’s lives and hearts. No matter how badly Church, Inc wants to do that. So leave me out of the Global Leadership Summit and other Church, Inc gatherings. “Father, give me a heart for the people of OVCF.”

I apologize for the length of this “rant.” Thanks for reading this far.  If you have gone this far, I’d sure like to know what your thoughts are.


9 Comments so far ↓

  1. Glynn says:

    You’re right – “Pastor as CEO” was an epic fail for the whole church. So was “Elder Board as Board of Directors.” So were the mission and vision statements that sounded like they came from a corporate board room. We are paying a huge price today for what happened in the late 1980s and all through the 1990s. That particular church model was a failure.

    Not that I’m passionate about this subject or anything.

    • cycleguy says:

      I’m glad my mouth was empty when I read that last statement. it would not have looked good on my computer screen. I totally agree with you Glynn. Glad you see it that way also. And thanks for coming by.

  2. Crystal says:

    Totally agree. I would also add that when we in the pews have a “.INC” mindset in our relationships, individual life callings, missions, etc then “life” has become “all about me and success” and we push God out of “the way”. As a follower of Jesus, surrendered and under the control of the Holy Spirit – nothing I do can afford to be abbreviated by “.INC”. (Just some thoughts God has been stirring this week and then I read your blog 🌞)

    • cycleguy says:

      you bring up a good point Crystal. The INC mindset does go both ways. You can see that when the guy in the pew constantly leaves one church for another because it “meets their needs.” Aaaaaah yeah. Thanks for the thoughts.

  3. Rant away, Bill! In my opinion, a pastor should be a shepherd to his/her people – always! And there is no price you could ever put on human lives and hearts.

  4. Pam says:

    I am always amazed at the similarities between your ministry and Dick’s. They seem to have followed similar paths. God is leading you both. And it isn’t down the CEO path.

  5. floyd says:

    You are that good shepherd, brother. You can’t fool people in the long run. If you don’t have the love of God in you the job you’re doing would be impossible for you.

    Thanks for leading by example.