Identifying New Shepherds


             Who should lead new churches or cell groups? Some denominations make it hard, for someone who has God’s shepherding gift, to begin using it, because men have added unreasonable rules, for commissioning pastors, to the original rules of Christ and His apostles.

             Turn over new groups to new shepherds-in-training as soon as possible (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5), and employ with them the 2 Timothy 2:2 generational, leadership-training, chain reaction. Start new groups through these apprentice shepherds, through a mentoring chain like the one Paul started with Timothy, who trained “reliable men” who trained “others also.”

             Adding requirements to those of Scripture, for mobilizing new leaders, stifles the Holy Spirit’s gifting. Some clergy complain, “There is no one qualified to lead!” when they themselves are the ones who impose non-biblical qualifications to lead. New believers do not meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1 if to be commissioned as an overseer, as they are not yet proven. However, these should gather their unbelieving friends to hear about Jesus in the way Cornelius, Zacheus and Levi did, as described in the New Testament, and they should shepherd their own families and share Christ with friends. Recognize their leadership when they do so, although they are not yet “shepherding elders.”

             New cells and churches seldom grow out of groups consisting primarily of mature believers; and groups led by mature, popular Bible teachers almost never birth new groups. New cells and churches easily arise from groups of new believers led by new shepherds being coached by a more experienced leader. Let anyone who can gather others lead them as a new cell or church, but coach them in how to do so. Such a catalytic host is a “person of peace” who welcomes evangelists, worships with them, learns in a week or two to obey the commands of Jesus, and invites friends and relatives to come hear the gospel. Soon a healthy house church or cell is born.

             When a man or woman responds to the Word of God with faith and obedience, urge them to start leading their family and friends, especially the unsaved ones. If they are familiar with conventional church practice, they might hesitate, fearing that they are unqualified. So offer to coach them in the background, assuring them that, with God’s help, they can lead a new group.


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