For those who serve in leadership in the church, 1 Peter 5:2ff is a familiar section:
Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
In this passage, shepherding the church means a voluntary (read: joyful) care and direction of the people of God that is in accord with the revealed will of God — a direction that is not motivated by financial gain nor a pursuit of an authoritative position, but with an eagerness to serve (Paul would say being willing to be poured out and used up in service of God), and as an example of godly character and life.
To be a pastor or elder means that a man cares for the people given to him by protecting them from error and strives to lead them into obedience and conformity to the Word of God. It seems so simple.
And then we read of denominations that are debating whether or not to accept behavior of church members and leaders that has historically not only never been accepted, but has always been grounds for Biblical discipline. The most recent statement is not unique — it is just the most recent event on the slippery slide away from the authority of Scripture.
John Piper summarizes well the danger and tragedy of making such proclamations — a tragedy for both the people of God and those who lead them:
“…official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.”