The church desperately needs a new generation of pastors and preachers who are ready to be kind and courageous shepherds of Christ’s flock.

Do you remember the conversation between Peter and our Lord after his resurrection from the dead?

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”  (John 21:15-17, ESV)

These utterly simple commands are a job description for ministry. The church desperately needs a new generation of tender and tenacious shepherds who will serve and lead the church — feeding them always the truth of God’s Word.

We often underestimate what it means for Christ to be our good shepherd. We tend to think of shepherding in entirely pastoral terms, but it is a profession of spiritual warfare: shepherds tend to their flock, but they must also slay predators.

To Peter, Christ gave the command to “feed my sheep.” Three times the command is repeated. Three times the commission is extended. Three times Peter receives the pastoral calling.

But it is not just Peter who received this calling.

Every God-called minister is assigned this role. Ministers are called and charged to feed the sheep, to tend the flock of God and to guard the sheep entrusted to their care. Jesus Christ, the crucified, resurrected and ascended Lord, is the good shepherd of his sheep, those he purchased with his own blood. And he called and commissioned under-shepherds to feed his flock, to guard and to tend and to love.

Southern Seminary is a school for shepherds, and we are incredibly thankful for this calling. Just imagine the courage required of this generation of preachers and pastors. The good news is that this generation of young pastors, the young men on the Southern Seminary campus, is ready for this challenge. They are courageous and convictional, passionate and gospel-centered.

They are ready to go to the nations and to go into the churches. They are ready to plant churches and they are ready to replant churches — and that is the great story told in this edition of the Southern Seminary Magazine.

Southern Seminary and Boyce College have never been more needed, and this work has never been more important. We are headed into a time of great challenge for the Christian church, but this generation of courageous young Christians is determined to be faithful. Our task is to get them ready for deployment.

Our mission is to get an army of shepherds ready for service. Just try explaining that to a secular world. Thank you for all you do to help make that mission possible.