We’ve made four assumptions so far, and here I’ve added a fifth.
1. Wherever believers gather, some are accountable for the well-being and protection of the group. Specifically, of their souls.
2. The metaphor most often used to describe this accountability is shepherding — an activity rich in analogy and example.
3. Shepherding is a literal and intentional role, and the Bible offers specific examples of what’s involved.
4. Shepherding takes a lot out of you, so God also established a “community” culture in which all the members invest in one another’s well-being. This includes the shepherds as well as the shepherded.
5. There’s an expected result from all this shepherding. The goal is for every member to grow up into the full maturity of Jesus Christ Himself.
When a person becomes a “believer,” or a Christian, the expectation is that you’ll soon see a difference between that person and the next. Especially if you fast-forward ten years. That difference would be rooted in two things — what takes place within a person who has “become a Christian,” and what sort of shepherding that person receives.
It’s important for church leaders to think constantly, deeply, and specifically about this. It’s the whole point of shepherding. And, getting back to Hebrews 13:17, the Owner of the sheep is keenly attentive to such things.