Jan 26, 2011

The Church of the Deep Well pt. 2

There is a big difference between ranching and shepherding. On a ranch, all the cattle stay inside of the barbed wire boundaries. The rancher comes on a regular basis to feed the flock, he tends to their needs, and after the work is done, he leaves the flock to itself safely inside of the its barbed wire protection. The shepherd is different. For the shepherd there is no fence of protection, only a pen for nightly sleep. The job of the shepherd is to lead the flock to green pastures. The job of the shepherd is to care for the flock while they are moving. The job of the shepherd is to protect the flock from the dangers of the open fields around him.

In leading the flock, it is not unusual for the shepherd to travel amongst other shepherds. The sheep mingle, but their loyalty is to the voice that calls them. As the sheep travel, the shepherd knows where water is, where grass is and where home is.

The difference between the church of the barbed wire and the church of the deep well is as simple as a rancher and a shepherd. In the church of the barbed wire there is no travel, no purpose, but comfort and safety inside of its boundaries. In the church of the deep well the flock travels. The flock follows its chief shepherd (Jesus Christ) and is also led by its under shepherd. This is a church that is not afraid to live in the world. It is a church that finds rest in a small pen, but its mission is going. The foundation of this church is not in the secondary rules that keep it safe, but in the shepherd who guards it and the living water it returns to.

The fellowship of the Church of the deep well is found in its shepherd and in turn found in its mission. Its fellowship is not defined by its fences but instead found in its travels and in the voice it follows. In turn what defines the fellowship also defines its aim- evangelism. A flock that is in the world, seen following the chief shepherd, walking alongside other sheep is a flock that will bear witness to the shepherd and lead other sheep to follow as well. Every church has a choice. They can be a church wrapped in barbed wire, safe, fed and cared for, or they can be a church defined by its shepherd, seen for its travels, leading other sheep to follow. Is the church a ranch, or is the church a flock?

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