Those of you that used to attend a NCMI relating church would have notices something strange when you first joined. When you first got to NCMI you would have noticed that there would be this one individual or couple that befriends you almost immediately. This is you mentor, and they don’t just make friends with you because you have a nice face.
This is how heavy shepherding works, at least in the church that I attended.
You will receive a mentor when you first arrive at the church. S/He will befriend you and make you feel welcome. This mentor also has a mentor that is a bit higher up leadership and again this mentor has a mentor who is even higher up. This will go on and on all the way up to the eldership, who are mentored by the apostolic leadership.
Let’s say you are in the process of having a divorce. You innocently tell your so-called friend (the mentor) about it. S/He will relay this information up the chain until it reaches eldership. The eldership will then approach you about it if they feel the situation calls for it.
In heavy shepherding churches there is a clearly defined hierarchy. Members through to Apostles. A member that decides to approach an elder for advice with be greeted with a very cold response. They will tell you that they are too busy. This often causes confusion because no one really knows that the system exists. It is only implemented on a social level under the guise of accountability and Covenant friendships, and is not official in any way.
Some might believe that there is nothing wrong with this type of setup, but I believe in to be flawed on two levels.
The first is that because all the members a kept out of the loop, they feel disconnected from the eldership. There is often a lack of accountability within the eldership, because if anyone approached them about something that is bothering them that will almost always be shown the door. This causes a lot of heartache with the members, who feel that they are ignored and don’t have anything to offer the church.
The second is that I believe it foolish to create a system where there is such a clear hierarchy. We are all equal in Gods eyes, and all have direct commune with the almighty through Jesus Christ, our high priest. A church that creates a system like this creates a group of spiritual elite. These people are beyond the reach of the average man, because you can’t even have a normal conversation with them.
I would like to go more into what shepherding is, and how it has failed in the past. So pop in here again for updates.