Discipling and Shepherding

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Discipling or Shepherding or the Shepherding Movement is a movement within evangelical Christianity that began in the 1970s and continues today. It is most common in some charismatic and fundamentalist churches, and in the International Church of Christ (also known as the Boston Movement or Boston Church of Christ).

Getting to the point[edit]

Okay, let's cut right to the point. Has anyone else noticed the initials of Discipling/Shepherding are D and S? To truly understand discipling and shepherding, get to know those initials because that is what the discipling/shepherding movement is all about. Now it is not uncommon in religion for a clergyman to take someone under his/her wing to teach them about religion, or for a Wiccan High Priest(ess) to take a new coven member as a student to learn under them. Let's say you're a young, new, naive born-again Christian, and somebody in your church comes up to you one day after the service and wants to talk to you about "discipling" or "shepherding", telling you that as a New ChristianTM, discipling or shepherding will really help you Grow In Your FaithTM.


Don't fall for it. Basically, it's like the situation with the Catholic priests and the altar boys, except that everyone involved is probably of consenting age and there is no actual sexual intercourse involved, just a bunch of D and S.[1] Not that this matters to fundamentalists, of course.

Let's get back to that D and S thing. In human sexuality, some people get their sexual kicks by entering into a submissive relationship with another person. Some people get their sexual kicks by entering into a dominant relationship with another person. As long as this is consensual and both persons know what they are getting into, everything is cool.

In evangelical Christianity, sex outside of the missionary position and/or outside of heterosexual marriage is of course frowned upon. Getting sexual fulfillment outside of the above is right out. But let's say somebody is hardwired to get sexual pleasure by being dominant over another person, but they happen to get snagged by born-again Christianity? Well, the Lord provides. Born-again Christianity provides a way for them to still enter into a relationship of dominance over another person. It is known as Discipling or Shepherding, also known as "accountability groups", "cell groups", "covenant relationships", "discipleship" and "headship" (the latter perhaps an unfortunate term).[2] This is where one Christian enters into a "covenant relationship" with another Christian to "submit" to their "authority" over every area of their lives. "Both major and minor decision making is placed in the hands of one’s pastor, holding the follower’s free will hostage and robbing him of his personhood."[3]

Supposedly, this is so somebody more advanced in their "faith" can help the "younger" Christian grow into a "deeper" relationship with Christ. This is done by the more "mature" Christian taking "authority" over the other person's life.


Some Dominionist groups known as Cell Churches are organized in a similar way to firms engaged in Pyramid schemes or Multilevel marketing. The person at the top of the cult disciples a group of personnel in the next lower rank who in turn disciple the next level in the cult and so on right down to the bottom.[4]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Actually, a closer parallel would be the relation between a guru and his or her cult, but it doesn't lend itself as well to the D & S themeWikipedia; now, read on.
  2. [1]
  3. Damaged Disciples
  4. Dominionist cell churches and religious abuse