Dr Christa McKirland


Shepherding well: A theology of interpersonal power and authority
Thursday 27 March 2025 | 9:30am

The metaphor of God as Israel’s Shepherd (Psalm 23), leaders of Israel as shepherds of the people of God (both good and bad), Jesus as the Good Shepherd (and sacrificial lamb), the church as the flock that knows Good Shepherd’s voice, and NT leaders as undershepherds, provides a pastoral throughline across the Christian canon. But what is the relationship between the Shepherd, undershepherds, and sheep meant to be like today? Using this metaphor as a lens, this session will look at interpersonal power and authority, and will propose that each member of the flock is meant to hear the Shepherd’s voice, but not in isolation. We need the flock, especially members of the flock that know the Shepherd well and are living a life worthy of imitation. These other members do not have authority over the flock or individual sheep, but they do have power to point other members to the Chief Shepherd. Importantly, every member of the flock has the potential to guide other sheep to the Chief Shepherd. We will conclude with a prayer from the sheep that we might tune our hearts to hear the Good Shepherd's voice whether we are in the valley of the shadow of death or green pastures. The Good Shepherd is with us no matter where we go.

Christa McKirland


Dr Christa L. McKirland is a Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Carey Baptist College in Tāmaki Makaurau Aotearoa. She is also the Executive Director of Logia International which encourages women to pursue postgraduate theological education for the sake of the academy and church. Her research has focused on humanity's fundamental need for union with God in her most recent publication: God's Provision, Humanity's Need: The Gift of Our Dependence (Baker, 2022).