Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:2, Acts 20:25-35 Downloads & Resources God's Family: Are You Shepherding God's Family? Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/23/2003 A few years ago Lara and I went to a NASCAR event in Michigan. We had never been to Michigan before, so we logged onto the internet and printed up some maps that promised to get us to our desired destination. We left early and spent most of the day driving. By nightfall we were getting closer to our hotel. And that was a good thing because I hate driving. I was mentally exhausted after tolerating numerous traffic jams and construction zones. At one point I began counting down the miles until we reached our hotel. Ten miles… 9 miles… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… The thought of getting a meal and relaxing for the evening became an obsession. But suddenly we realized that our hotel was nowhere in sight. As any mean husband would do, I began to question my wife’s navigation abilities. "Can’t you tell where we are from the maps? Don’t you recognize any of the streets?" By the way, speaking to my wife this way is like grabbing a Rotweiler by the ears! It became obvious that our maps were wrong. They barely resembled the area! After driving down a half-dozen wrong streets, I decided to redeem myself. Swallowing my pride, I did what most men refuse to do. I stopped at a gas station in order to ask directions. It was a last resort. The young clerk looked at me with glazed eyes and said, "I don’t know. I’ve never heard of that street or that hotel. Sorry." So we drove around and I stopped at another gas station. The clerk there spoke fluent Aramaic. If he did give me correct directions, I wouldn’t have known. And I didn’t want to offend him by repeatedly asking, "Now tell me two more times?" At gas station number three the clerk gave us the wrong directions and pointed us down a road that led to the edge of the city. At gas station number four the clerk said, "No hable' ingles." By that point my sinful nature had gained complete control of my body. And it was good that I was in another state and none of you were around! We have all been lost. I think all of us have been in similar circumstances. We have all been lost. We have all found ourselves at the mercy of some clueless gas station clerk. We have all struggled to find our way in the dark. In the divine scheme of things it is no big deal that we get lost while on vacation. But what happens when we get lost in other areas of life? What happens when we lose our way in marriage? When communication grinds to a halt, anger and tension mount, conflict becomes the new normal, intimacy becomes non-existent, and divorce is on the horizon? What happens when our family life is spinning out of control? When your children act like Dennis the Menace, adopt your weaknesses, lack discipline, fail at school, explode in anger, get tangled in drugs and alcohol, commit a crime, make poor choices, break down emotionally or lose their self-confidence? Navigating the troubled waters of a broken marriage or dysfunctional family is difficult at best. Or what happens when we lose self-control? When food is the only way we cope with our loneliness, alcohol is the only way to get through the day, and a cigarette is all that will calm us? What happens when we cannot resist temptation, but continually give in to our passions? When we crave drugs or pornography or some sexual touch as much as our next breath of air? When the pressure is so great that we can no longer maintain control over our emotions? When stress and anxiety and fear perplexes us? When we can find no comfort for the gut-wrenching pain and grief? When we go astray, we need someone who knows how to get us back on track. We know the truth of 1 Peter 2:25 (NIV) which says, "For you were like sheep going astray..." At some point in our lives every one of us has gone astray. We have stumbled in the dark. But what a joy it is to have someone who knows how to get us back on track and who can offer a reliable map to life. The rest of 1 Peter 2:25 (NIV) reads, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." Jesus Christ is the shepherd and overseer of our souls. The Bible also says in John 14:6 (NIV) that Jesus is, "the way, the truth and the life" and that, "no one comes to the father (i.e. no one finds their way) except through Christ." Jesus is our map, our atlas, and our compass for keeping us from getting lost. He gives guidance and direction to our lives. He helps us out of those dark moments when we are lost and going astray. Where would we be without Jesus Christ, the shepherd and overseer of our lives? Becoming Godly Shepherds This morning we explore the final step we take in relationship with God’s family. What Peter says is true. "Jesus Christ is the shepherd and overseer of our souls." But what interests me today is found a few chapters later when Peter writes these words in 1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV). Peter says, "Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." He wants us to become examples to the flock, serving each other out of love and concern. He wants us to reach the point of maturity where we can provide competent guidance to people who have their backs against the wall, who have been beat up by life, who have been deceived, or who have the wrong map and are wandering aimlessly. He wants parents shepherding their children's hearts. He wants older men shepherding younger men and older women shepherding younger ladies. He wants couples shepherding couples and leaders shepherding their small groups or Bible classes. He wants godly men to rise up and be entrusted with the oversight of the entire flock, the Church, the body of Christ, and you and me. Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd, but he leads, guides, and protects through shepherds on earth. Shepherds have huge responsibility in the church. What strikes me the most about churches today is the absence of true shepherds. Shepherds are Christians who have taken this critical fourth step in relationship to God's family. When push comes to shove, someone has to oversee the life and health of the Church. Someone has to see to it that groups are productive and healthy, that marriages and families are strong, that the Church is properly being nourished in the word, and that people are building on their beliefs and knowledge of Christ. Shepherds see that the Holy Spirit is not being quenched, that everyone is being formed in Christ, that people are training for godliness and cultivating basic Christian habits, that people are moving deeper into ministry and "one-anothering" each other, that the Church is being salt and light to the world, that needs are being met, that the Church is spreading the gospel and remaining faithful to the cause of the gospel. Most Churches have never groomed anyone to accept this critical mantle of leadership. Most churches hire out the responsibility of shepherding to a pastor. Once hired, the full responsibility of shepherding Christ’s Church is placed on his or her shoulders. The pastor is responsible for teaching and preaching. He is responsible for praying for everyone in the church by name, for following up on visitors, for sharing the gospel, for baptizing all new converts, for calling on every hospital bed, for attending every meeting, for resolving conflict, for dealing with disgruntled members, for confronting sin, for carrying out church discipline, for administrating, and for counseling. For better or for worse, the entire health and life of the church is placed into the hands of a hired gun who is an outsider, who has limited knowledge of the church, who hasn’t gained relational authority, who is often young and inexperienced, and who has to be paid to stay. The pastor may not have the maturity to remain in Christ, model Christ’s lifestyle, shepherd the flock and multiply new life through others. The Church is mysteriously void of authentic, Biblical shepherds. In 1 Peter 5:2 (NIV) Peter is talking to the Church and he says, "Be shepherds of God’s flock." He is not directing this statement to an individual, but to the whole Church. Peter could be saying, "You ALL be shepherds!" There is a time and place for a young evangelist like Timothy or like myself, to come into a Church and organize it. But in this verse Peter is not telling the Church to go and hire a shepherd. The onus is entirely on the Church to shepherd itself under the oversight of the great shepherd and overseer, Jesus Christ. The super-pastor, super-shepherd model is not Christ’s vision for the church. It is man’s vision. It is a vision that has arisen out of irresponsibility and ignorance. You all be shepherds of God’s flock! Grow and mature and aspire to oversee Christ’s bride, the body, the Church. Do not forsake Christ’s clarion call to be faithful to all he has entrusted us. As goes the shepherds, so goes the church. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. As goes the shepherds, so goes the church. The church ultimately becomes what its shepherds are. We have to get shepherding done right in the local church. This week I dug into a not-so-familiar passage on shepherding in Acts 20:25-35 (NIV). As I read this passage, pay close attention to how Paul is shifting the responsibility of shepherding Christ’s flock to the shepherds of the local church. "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 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. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " Who will be the shepherds of Lakeside Christian Church? I have to ask an important question of every single person in this room. Who will be the shepherds of Lakeside Christian Church? Who will the health of this entire congregation be entrusted to? Who will be responsible for accurately preaching about the kingdom of God? Who will be responsible for the spiritual oversight of every living soul that God called into this fellowship through the gospel? Who will be responsible for teaching the whole counsel and will of God? Who will keep watch over the flock that the Holy Spirit has entrusted to our care? Who will shepherd and guide and love and care and nourish the body Jesus Christ purchased by his blood and tears? Who will be on guard to protect the flock from the savage wolves who will come in among us and attempt to destroy God’s work in our lives? Who will warn the flock about the perils of sin? Who will model Christ’s life? Who will pray and weep and shed tears over the life of this congregation? Who will champion strong marriages, healthy families, and godly living? Who will apprentice the next generation of leaders? Who will pass the baton? Who will shepherd the young women in our congregation and encourage them to live pure and holy lives? Who will come alongside the young men in our Church and encourage them to serve God and embrace his purpose for their lives? As goes the shepherds, so goes the flock. In conclusion, let me take a moment and give an overview of God’s vision for Lakeside. This is a vision that we are slowly but surely turning into reality. In relationship to God’s Son, we are to progress through four steps or stages. First, we come to know Jesus Christ. We establish basic beliefs about his life, his teaching, his identity as Lord and Savior, his work on the cross, and his resurrection. Second, we grow in Jesus Christ. We deepen our beliefs and develop deep convictions and core values. We are overwhelmed with gratitude, we worship, and we trust Christ. Next, we stand in Jesus Christ. Our loyalty to Christ is firm. We are unashamed of our relationship to him. We take risks in his name and for his glory. Last, we remain in Jesus Christ. We are immovable and nothing can shake our faith. Our love for Jesus Christ is to the death and for eternity. In relationship to God’s Spirit, we are to progress through four steps or stages. First, we respond to Christ’s life. Through faith, repentance, confession, and baptism we receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Second, we practice Christ’s lifestyle of loving God and loving people in the power of the Spirit. We are inconsistent at first, but we keep sowing seeds of obedience. Next, we live Christ’s lifestyle with increasing consistency. We put the sinful nature to death and offer our bodies as instruments of righteousness. Last, we model Christ’s lifestyle. We invite others to follow our example as we follow Christ Jesus. We inspire faith and obedience. In relationship to God’s Family, we are to progress through four steps or stages. First, we experience Christ’s life in the face of the Church. We put ourselves on the receiving end, consuming and tasting Christ’s love and developing an appetite for God’s Spirit to be unleashed in our lives. Second, we train for godliness. We get connected. We become accountable to God’s family. We invite others to speak truth into our life. We are encouraged to practice the basic Christians habits and disciplines that unleash the Spirit in our lives. Next, we apprentice for ministry. We hook up with a godly mentor who personally invests in our life and calls out our best. Last, we shepherd God’s family. By way of preview, as we approach Christmas we are going to explore our relationship with God’s world. First, we receive new life in Christ and are no longer of the world. Second, we share that new life with others through our testimony. Next, we add new life to God’s family by leading others to trust Christ. Last, we multiply new life in God’s family through those we mentor. Shepherding is all about modeling growth through these stages. But shepherding is also about helping others mature through these stages. Will you answer God’s call to be shepherds of God’s flock and make God’s vision a reality in yourself and others?