10B and 10A Shepherding

Would it be fair to assume that many church members, attenders and guests sometimes wonder whether the lead pastor has any time for them, really cares for them or even is at all interested in them as individuals?

In many churches, the pastor is not visible until he shows up a minute before the scheduled service start time. Most may presume he is praying and otherwise preparing in some important way for the gathered church event. Nor is he normally visible or accessible after the last “amen” and dismissal.

What would happen if the shepherd mingled with the flock for 10 minutes before (10B) and 10 minutes after (10A) the service?

What if he were casually, genuinely and warmly greeting and chatting with folks as they were finding their seats? In my later years of pastoring, it became my joy to experience these connections with the congregation. Most often it was a brief encounter. Sometimes it became a minute or two of sharing in a joy or a sorrow.  At times it was an opportunity for praying together. Whichever it was, it felt to me like the kind of thing that a good shepherd would do. It seemed important as well that the wandering was not always in the same area of the room. People have their preferred location, so making the rounds was intentional.

In some contexts it has been, and perhaps still is, customary for the preacher to stand at the exit for the usual, but mostly superficial, handshake and word of greeting. What if, after the service was over, the shepherd wandered again among the congregation, sometimes among those still in the meeting room or among those in the foyer or on the patio? All again for the purpose of making connections with the flock.

For what it’s worth, it did make a difference when that became the norm for us. Yes, the praying and preparation needed to be done in advance, but those 10B and 10A investments for connections between the shepherd and the flock were well worth the time, and made us a healthier and more effective family of God. You might want to give it a try.

*About the author: Ed Boschman has been in pastoral ministry for 43 years and served as USMB executive director from 2007-2014. He currently serves as the head coach for the USMB Lead Coaching program and as the consultant for the USMB LEAD Consults program. Ed and his wife, Carol, attend The Bridge Bible Church in Bakersfield, Calif. He enjoys spending time with his family, motorcycling and golf.

Send your idea to don@usmb2stg.wpengine.com.