by Darrel Rundus:
All too often I see people who come to Boot Camp or who have heard and been enlightened by Ray Comfort’s message Hell’s Best Kept Secret get frustrated with other Christians, members of their church, and even their Pastor for not “getting it” and understanding the importance of sharing their faith and doing it biblically. Time and time again, I see many people join “Club Frustration” and ultimately leave their church in search of one that is doing things biblically and that cares about evangelism. While being an active member of a solid church is vitally important, there is no such thing as a perfect church, and if you did find a perfect place to worship, you’d probably ruin it in a couple of weeks. I feel as if part of the problem we face is apathy when it comes to obeying the Great Commission, but another aspect of the equation is the relationship between the Pastor and the Evangelist. God’s Word says that He chose some to be Pastors and some to be Evangelists for the equipping of the saints (Ephesians 4:10-12). That means the Pastor is not the Evangelist and the Evangelist is not the Pastor.
I’ll never forget a story Ray shared with me to illustrate the symbiotic and powerful relationship between the Pastor and the Evangelist and how much fruit can come from their alliance if each person does their function and they work in tandem to fulfill their responsibility in the body of the church and the calling on their lives. If you have ever been to a Sheepdog competition this will make perfect sense to you, but even if you haven’t, I think this illustration will help you to understand what God intended the relationship between the Pastor and the Evangelist to be like.
At a sheepdog competition you have the sheep, the gate, the pen, the Sheepdog and the Shepherd. The sheep are positioned outside the gate of the pen in the open country. The Shepherd stands there and the Sheepdog patiently sits, watching the sheep and waiting for the command from the Shepard to go round up the sheep, chase them through the narrow gate and into the pen. When the time is right, the Shepherd gives the command and the Sheepdog springs into action and runs at the sheep, barking at them, nipping at their heels and chases them straight through the gate. Then the Shepherd shuts the gate and begins to tend to the sheep. If the Sheepdog takes off before getting the command from the Shepherd, or if he has too much zeal and doesn’t maintain restraint and self control, the sheep will get away and the Sheepdog and the Shepherd will lose the competition.
This illustration is powerful and the symbolism is obvious. The Shepherd is the Pastor and the Sheepdog is the Evangelist. Now, could you imagine what would happen if the Sheepdog decided to go off on his own, chasing the sheep whenever he wanted? What if the Sheepdog decided to bark at and bite the Shepherd? The Shepherd would put that dog down and find a Sheepdog that would submit to his authority and obey his commands. What if the Shepherd never praised the Sheepdog when he did what the Shepherd commanded? What if he never fed the Sheepdog or even acknowledged the dog when he did a good job?
All too often I see Sheepdogs (Evangelists) who are so excited or short on patience that they start barking at their Shepherd and running around aimlessly with no control or direction. I have on many occasions seen the Sheepdog running around inside the pen barking at and nipping at the heels of the sheep inside the pen. Even worse, I see Evangelists who will not take orders from their Shepherd and turn on him and bite the hand that feeds them. I also see Shepherds (Pastors) running around chasing sheep on foot without the help of the Sheepdog or trying to catch the sheep by luring them over, one at a time, with food and treats in which the smart sheep have no interest.
In order to have a fruitful relationship between the Shepherd (Pastor) and the Sheepdog (Evangelist) they both need to know their function and responsibility. It’s not the Sheepdog’s job to tend the sheep, nor could he. It’s not the Shepherd’s job to catch the sheep, nor should he, if he’s going to properly tend the sheep he has. God made some to be Shepherds and some to be Sheepdogs, and if they are to be fruitful they must work together to gather the sheep and drive them through the gate and into the pen.
Be a good Sheepdog and work with your Shepherd, submit to his authority, and when he gives you the command, go out and bring the lost sheep into the fold. Be a good Shepherd and tend your sheep while being careful not to neglect the Sheepdog who helped you get them through the gate and into the pen. Keep your Sheepdog busy lest he get bored and start to tear up the place by barking at and chasing after the sheep in the pen. By knowing your role in the body and working together, the Shepherd and the Sheepdog will glorify God and many lost sheep will be saved.