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God calls elders and pastors to “shepherd the flock of God among you” (1 Peter 5:2). This small statement has huge implications. First, the key word here is “among”. This word supports three truths regarding the pastor and his flock.

First, it supports the local church because the flock is defined. It is popular, especially in my city, to think the church is universal and as long as you gather with other believers, it is okay because there is a universal church. But 1 Peter 5:1-5 supports a local church led by leaders. In fact, the church here is defined as a specific set of people. “Shepherd the flock of God among you” and elders are not to rule “as lording it over those allotted to your charge but proving to be examples to the flock.” The bold language here supports a local context. Shepherds are called to watch over the church, those specifically allotted to your charge. The church at large mentality does not fit here. Who is called to shepherd the church at large? Who are the elders? Believers are called to be in one local church.[1]

Second, it means the pastor and elders are called to be among a local flock. A local flock needs elders (a pastor is an elder). Some have even argued, a valid point, a church does not exist if there is no elder. As much as I respect George Whitefield, he was not a pastor because he did not have a congregation. Men are not called to shepherd “the church at large.” Men are called to shepherd the specific people in their charge. This is one reason why an elder wants to know the membership of the church. Because those people, by commitment, have been placed under our care.

Third, look at it from the reverse angle and the flock is to have a local pastor who shepherds me. All of us have access to the internet and therefore we have access to sermons online. One blessing we have today is the ability to listen to our favorite preachers day in and out, all the time. But those men are not your pastor. John MacArthur is not your pastor unless you live in SoCal and attend Grace Community Church. Your pastor, and the one God designed to speak into your life, is the man who preaches week in and out at your local church. If you live in Phoenix, attend church, THAT man was designed by God to shepherd your soul and you need to listen to him. God wants that man to teach you. In His sovereign will, that man has been placed in your life (weaknesses and all), to prepare you for Christ’s return or your call home.

The local church is important. God designed it with His glory and your best interest in mind. We are called to fall in line and follow His design. Let us have convictions that respecting His design is good for our soul.

[1] The church universal concept is popular and used to defend the notion there is not only one true church or denomination. I am not arguing there is only one true church in every town or city or only one true denomination. God intends you to be in a local church habitually.

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