The Shepherds, those who care pastorally for people, play such a significant role in equipping God’s people. We long for them to do this for all of our Church – but who and what do we mean by that? Do we mean those on our role or who attend on a Sunday, virtually or in-person? What about those who attend Messy Church, use our halls or our foodbank? The answer is Yes – all of those.

We long to equip our Shepherds to care for people so that they will heal and grow, encounter Jesus and be able to help others.

Keith Mack unpacks more of the role of the Shepherd here.

To explore this further, the following resources might be of help.

Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey Trust aims to help people grow in their relationship with God and be equipped with the knowledge and skills to help others. The have a great range of e-learning opportunities in areas such as anxiety, self-esteem and addiction.

Pastoral Care Conference footage 

This footage comes from in-person training events, hosted by the Church of Scotland. The 2017 event contains good introductory materials, with the 2018 event building on this and digging deeper into some more complex matters.

Pastoral Care UK

Pastoral Care UK aims to provide training resources which enable ALL of church to develop quality relationships, SOME of church to develop their pastoral gifts and a FEW of church to equip the all and the some.

Healing for the Heart

Who they are and what they do:


Introductory training to Inner Healing:

Emotionally Healthy

The ‘Emotionally Healthy’ family of resources aim to develop spiritual formation and discipleship in all of the church, including tending to the elements we might prefer to ignore.

Fortnightly podcasts:

A variety of books speak to the Emotionally Healthy Leader / Church etc


A hub of resources for Activating Potential, Pursuing Maturity and Sparking Collaboration. In their suite of APEST resources, you’ll find these thoughts on How to Disciple an Immature Shepherd.

Vital Connexions

Vital Connexions primarily works in the area of counselling, offering both certificate and diploma courses.

The following books and articles may be helpful.

‘Lead Like a shepherd’, Larry Osborne

Review by Graham Duffin

In his book Osborne sets out his stall early on: “It’s a look at the kind of leaders and leadership values that will actually produce disciples.  It’s not so much about the task of leadership as it is about the heart of leadership and what it means to lead like a shepherd instead of a CEO.”

Later he writes, “Those of us who take on the mantle of spiritual leadership are called first and foremost to be shepherds.  Not generals.  Not CEO’s.  Not visionaries.  Not entrepreneurs.  Not cowboys.  Just shepherds.”

You get the idea – and Osbourne sets out some really useful principles for leading from the perspective of being a shepherd.  He never sugar coats the pill and after a chapter on ‘It’s all about the sheep’ includes a chapter on ‘Willing to be misunderstood’ where he says, “Every shepherd has to occasionally make his or her sheep do something they don’t want to do.  It’s an unpleasant and necessary part of leadership… find out where the sheep need to go and then lead them there.”

I found it a helpful antidote to books written from the perspective of organisational change.


‘Christ’s Under-Shepherds’, Leo Douma, (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2016).

This book is set in the context of the Christian Reformed Church in Australia. It concerns the church elders and ‘home visitation’ and the need to reform this in light of the changing needs of pastoral care in the 21st century. In line with the APEST, Douma quotes Ephesians 4 where Paul, ‘advocates that the “pastor-teachers” are to “equip the saints for ministry”.


‘Is Pastoral Care Dead in a Mission-led Church?’, Stephen Pattison Practical Theology, 1:1, (2008)

Pattison suggests that, ‘Pastoral care, ‘if properly undertaken, … is itself an essential part of God’s mission to the world’.


‘Shepherds after My own Heart’, Laniak, Timothy S (Leicester: Apollos, 2006).

Laniak focusses on the metaphor of the sheep and the shepherd and reminds the reader that church members are not only sheep being led by the shepherd but some of those sheep may be potential shepherds.