The Hunter and the Herder
Hunting and herding require vastly different skill sets. Both have specific, crucial roles to play in a Church Planting Movement. Neither role can fulfil its full potential without the other.
The greatest single crisis in the church is that we have hired hunters to be herders. That’s a bit like asking a cat to bark or a cow to bleat. When we try to serve God in mismatched roles, we end up hurt and confused. We also hurt others.
A hunter who spends all his time with herders, will become restless and frustrated. Eventually he will leave the group, but not without considerable conflict. Hunters were not designed to herd. Hunters are meant to hunt. Much of what is considered Christian leadership has been moulded by the church into the image of a herder. When you become a Christian leader, you are expected to herd. This does not work for the hunter. When you try to make a hunter function as a herder, he ends up hunting the sheep. Or he exhausts the sheep with an endless array of new ideas and programs that he hunted and brought home. Hunters are invaluable to the mission of the church. But they need to be hunting, not herding.
The greatest single crisis in missions is that we have sent out herders and not hunters. We need to re-think our recruiting strategies for missions. For some reason, our call to missions attracts herders. We don’t need more herders on the mission field, we need more hunters. Hunters will get the job done at any cost. They have a remarkable ability to make things happen.
A herder who spends all his time with hunters will feel threatened. Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy can overwhelm him. Hunters can be intimidating. They have incredible focus and energy. They tend to overshadow everyone around them. They have many markers of “success.” But look closely. Hunters can be very good at a few things, but they often have huge inadequacies. They sometimes have big character flaws. Hunters leave many things undone. And they tend to make everyone believe that the undone things are unimportant. Or less important. Don’t believe them.
Herders are very important – probably the most important people in the church. That may be why God made so many to be herders. Herders provide stability. Herders provide strength. Herders give guidance. Herders are fathers. Herders are mothers. Herders keep the church healthy and together. They are the glue in the church. Without herders, the church would disintegrate. We desperately need the herders to come forward. The church worldwide is in a moral crisis because herders have not stepped into their God-given calling. They busied themselves with something else. Or they abdicated the role of herder to the pastor or church leader.
Herders cannot catalyse church planting movements. Hunters cannot sustain church planting movements. Both are critical to seeing movements of churches planting churches. Each must understand their role in the process.
Are you a hunter? Please step forward. We need you.
Are you a herder? Please step forward. We need you.
Are you a herder trying to be a hunter? Stop. I beg you to stop. The Body of Christ needs your gift. Be who you are, not what you think others want you to be.
Are you a hunter trying to he a herder? Please, please stop. The church cannot be hunted. Sheep need a shepherd, not a hunter. Go find something to hunt. We need you on mission.David Broodryk Johannesburg, South Africa