Musings on Spiritual Matters

by Matthew Morine

When the Sheep Shear the Shepherds–4 for Sheep: The better way would overcome some of the problems with permission based and empowering based leadership. Instead of these two paradigms, perhaps a better model for elders is a boundaries system. In a boundaries system, the elder’s role is one of defining the limits for a congregation. There are theological boundaries, operational boundaries, and financial boundaries. Instead of allowing everyone to practice whatever comes to mind, which can causes unlimited problems because of the vast level of spiritual maturity within a member and instead of causing every member on every issue to come to the eldership for approval, the boundaries system has already marked that which is in limits and that which is out of bounds. This eliminates the need for permission on every issue as well as the need to be considered with every initiative within the church. The boundaries establish what not to do to accomplish the goal of the congregation. The goal is to reach out with the saving message of Christ. People are freed up to accomplish this purpose as long as they do not break on of the defined boundaries. This could be going beyond the doctrine of Christ, beyond the budget given, or practicing unethical principles to draw people into the building. The shepherds define the boundaries of the sheep pen. As long as the sheep stay within the confines of the boundaries developed by God and the shepherds, people are empowered to accomplish the work of the ministry.

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Related posts:

  1. When the Sheep Shear the Shepherds–Part 2
  2. When the Sheep Shear the Shepherds–Part 1
  3. When the Sheep Shear the Shepherds–3
  4. Theology Behind A Baptismal Celebration
  5. Sheepdogs and Elders

About The Author

Matthew is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. He has a beautiful wife named Charity and a precious baby named Gabrielle. He has graduated from the Brown Trail School of Preaching, Heritage Christian University with his Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies, Lipscomb University with his Master’s of Arts in Biblical Studies and his Master’s of Divinity at Freed-Hardeman University. He is presently working towards his Doctorate of Ministry at Harding Graduate School of Religion. His articles have appeared in the World Evangelist, the Highway to Holiness, The West Virginia Christian, The Christian Echo, The Firm Foundation, Church Growth, and the Gospel Advocate. He enjoys hockey, golf, boxing, and chess. In his spare time he enjoys reading numerous genres of books. Also, he is working on climbing all of the 14ers in Colorado. Matthew is the Pulpit Minister for the Castle Rock church of Christ.


9 Responses to “When the Sheep Shear the Shepherds–4”

  1. Matthew says:

    Does this seem like a better method than the other two most used ways?

  2. Alan Bell says:

    As I have read your post and contemplated I see 3 levels of decisions:
    1) Those not affecting the entire flock( ex do I eat/water right here or 5 feet further) Individual decision OK
    2) Those that may affect the entire flock( the grass looks better on the other side of the fence but watch out for the passing trucks) May or may not affect the flock but wise to stay within the boundary
    3) Do we go to the valley 5 miles away( this does affect the whole group)
    Shepherd better decide
    Seems to me we have to use the best parts of all 3 at the proper times. Just my thoughts.

  3. Matthew says:

    Great thoughts and great add ins to the discussion.

  4. David Kirk says:

    I am saddened because a church eldership in my area is doing everything they can to run the preacher off without actually firing him. He is a biblically sound man, but their attitude seems to be “This is OUR church!” I hope your readers will pray for this man and these elders … and the church!

  5. Matthew says:

    That is so sad. Just be man enough to deal with the problem. This is not leadership, but being cowards. Hope the best for this situation.

  6. K. Rex Butts says:

    I would say that a bigger problem(s) exists if the congregation does not know/must be reminded of the boundaries (theological, operational, etc…). Has the leadership not communicated the boundaries with precise clarity? Does the congregation not trust the leadership enough to respect and adhere to the boundaries that have been set even if the congregation does not understand every reason behind the established boundary? Does the leadership have a greater desire to control than serve? What is the spiritual maturity of the congregation if it wants to rebell against the boundaries?

    Here is where I think a parent-child metaphor is helpful. If the parent has sucessfully taught the child and the child has willfully learned, then eventually the child no longer needs to be told “yes or no”, “do or don’t”, etc… because the child knows what is expected as well as what will not be tolerated. And in many multi-child families, the older children help teach the younger. In the church, the leadership teaches the other members and as those members mature they set the tone for the younger and less mature children.

    Grace and peace,


  7. Alan Bell says:

    Rex definely hit another key ingredient-open 2-way communication.

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  9. Stacy says:

    Sometimes u need to be strict with children, but that doesnt mean you should hit them. Being strict and hitting children are two different things. What hitting does is makes the child more stubborn. Many a times, we hit a child not coz of his fault but coz we are frustrated about something else in our life. That is very unfair. Would we have liked something similar to be done to us when we were a child? Even if we have gone through it in our childhood, it does not give us any reason to do the same to the little budding flowers. Keep calm, give them love and they will be just fine and listen to you even more.

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