Ministry is like herding sheep, cats and sheep dogs

Recently I attended a conference session with Tim Hein which explored stages of faith development.  Whilst there were many complex elements to the presentation, a fun image that Tim used was the image of ministry as the art of herding.  So I thought I would share a quick overview with you:

  • Youth Ministry is like herding sheep – young people naturally want to run together as a herd.  There will be differences within a group but they tend to follow each other.  Young people like the stability of the herd and so are happy to go along with the routine.  Leading a youth ministry can seem difficult but it doesn’t have the complexity of Young Adult Ministry.  The challenge is to introduce complexity so that when they make the transition out of following the herd they know how to handle it.
  • Young Adult Ministry is like herding cats – young adults naturally want to explore their uniqueness.  Being a young adult is about testing out the boundaries, exploring the complexity of life and finding your unique place in the world.  Therefore ministry with this age group can end up with people heading in all sorts of directions.  As a young adult minister you can try to herd the cats but you will get a few scratches along the way, see the video below.
  • Adult Ministry is like herding sheep dogs – adults in the church need to run free because they are their own person but they can be roped in to help with the mission of your church.  Sheep dogs don’t need fences because they naturally stay on the farm; adults will naturally come back to church.  Sheep dogs don’t own the farm and the challenge with adults is to remind them they don’t own the church.

Some of these thoughts were my spin on what Tim was saying, his presentation was far more detailed than this.  I really liked this image because it seemed to resonate with the room, does it resonate with your experience?  Check out the funny video below then leave a comment explaining the image that you use for ministry.


markoffaith.net markoffaith, mrmarkmcdonald, mark mcdonald, Mark McDonald, Mark of Faith.

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