The focal point of this study of ministry in the Church is service, the service of the whole people of God which is reflected most completely in the image of the Shepherd. Drawing on Scriptural, patristic (especially from the writings of Ss Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom), historical and liturgical sources, Father Allen examines ministry in and to the community, the ministry to persons, and the ministry of the Word. Throughout the text, the pastoral dimension of the Christian life is examined in the light of what God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has done and continues to do in the life and history of humankind. The ministry of the priesthood is then seen through the ministry of Christ, the one High Priest, and through the image of the priesthood conveyed by His disciples, apostles, bishops, and priests since the days of the foundation of the Church.
Drawing also on contemporary sources, Allen tackles the concrete aspects of "shepherding" in today's world: preaching, counseling, healing, sickness and sin, confession, spiritual growth and prayer. In the final chapter he focuses on the person of the priest, the pastor or shepherd of the parish, and looks at several factors which account today for a certain divorce of his role from its Christian roots and calling.