“There is no class of the community on whom the prosperity of the church of Christ so much depends as on its ministers. If their zeal and activity languish,, the interests of religion are likely to languish in proportion; while, on the other hand, whatever is calculated to stimulate their zeal and activity, is likely to promote, in a proportional degree, the interests of religion. They are the chief instruments through whom good is to be effected in any country. How important, then, must it be to stir them up to holy zeal and activity in the cause of the Redeemer! A tract given to a poor man may be the means of his conversion; but a work such as this, presented to a minister, may, through his increased faithfulness and energy, prove the conversion of multitudes. Ministers themselves are not perhaps sufficiently disposed to purchase works of this kind: they are more ready to purchase books which will assist them, than such as will stimulate them in their work.”-William Brown From The Preface of The Reformed Pastor
Baxter,Richard (2010-03-25). The Reformed Pastor (Kindle Locations 92-99). . Kindle Edition.
The primary task that god has given to us as Pastors is to Shepherd the flock of God that is among us, not under compulsion but willingly. The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter is one of the most popular classics on the mission and practice of shepherding God’s flock. Baxter brought the addresses contained in the book to a group of fellow pastors in 1655. He sought to stir fellow shepherds to seriously heed their calling, to ensure that they are led by the chief shepherd themselves, and to strategically come up with a plan to know and feed their flocks. Baxter laid out the method which he employed of setting aside two days a week for strictly visitation purposes. He visited annually with each of His parishioners, primarily in their homes. He also calls shepherd to perhaps forego a higher paycheck in order to bring on assistants to help care for the church. Although the methods and strategies we can implement for shepherding may look different today, the same charge still remains. In fact, we have more means to connect on a regular basis with our people. Perhaps you meet at Starbucks instead or you have an extended phone call. At the least we can regularly send a text of encouragement on a regular basis.
How are we as pastors truly shepherding? Do you have a strategy for contacting and connecting on personal basis with each of the people in your church on a a regular basis? Do you have a strong elder team that can help in taking responsibility for certain members? In today’s fast moving society this should probably be at least monthly as suggested by Timothy Z. Witner in the book, “The Shepherd Leader.” Do you have a way of tracking needs, attendance,prayer requests? Spreadsheets including names, conversation notes, and prayer requests are a great way to track how often you are touching base with those in your care. A modern Customer Relationship Management software is another efficient way to track as well. I do not recommend, however, keeping personal and confidential matters on a spreadsheet or a CRM. It is best to keep those things in your prayers and mind only. Take some time to be stirred up to the important calling that we have by reading “The Reformed Pastor” by Richard Baxter.