The Shepherding Movement
"Shepherding" is a name given to a movement which arose within the Christian Church in the early 1970's. Largely found within the Charismatic movement, it became a system instituted within many churches whereby elders or "shepherds" would be appointed to act as spiritual leaders responsible for the church. Individual church members were assigned to specific elders, and were to be "submitted" to them. This was supposed to cause the submitted individuals to be "discipled," and to be protected by a spiritual "covering."
Shepherding has gone through an evolution over the years. While not nearly as popular or widespread as in the early 70's, it is nevertheless still found within the Christian Church. It is also not limited to the Charismatic church, but has become popular within some other movements. Many of the original personalities and teachings of the movement are not widely known today, but it is useful to examine shepherding's foundations and the teachings that have been emphasized throughout the various manifestations of the movement. This is not an attempt to criticize the particular men quoted, but give an accurate presentation of their teachings, as well as a biblical response to anyone teaching the same concepts in the present-day church.
The "shepherding," "discipleship," "submission," and "covering" concepts pose a real danger to those who wish to commit themselves to Jesus Christ today, just as they did during the "Jesus Movement" of the 1970's. My sincere hope and prayer is that those who have a zeal to follow the Lord would not be sidetracked by the spiritual sounding teachings of shepherding.
Please refer to the following topics for more information:
Unless otherwise noted all biblical quotes are from the New American Standard Bible.