In Memory of Lynn Anderson – “He Smelled Like Sheep”

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Lynn Anderson is home. Thursday, May 12, a shepherd who “Smelled like Sheep” went home to the Good Shepherd. He was 85.

“A shepherd in someone God hungry people want to be like.”
Lynn Anderson

Lynn Anderson was my friend, teacher, mentor, and shepherd. He was all of this to so many people. Since his passing, the stories of Lynn’s faith, hope and love showing up in people young and old keep coming.

I am blessed and humbled to be one of the leaders in HOPE Network along with Greg Anderson and Doug Peters. Hope. It’s the one word that permeated Lynn’s life–all because of Jesus. Like others, at times, Lynn believed in me more than I believed in myself.  And you know, he always pointed us to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

He always longed for home and writes:
“Most of my life, both by vocation and by passion, I have studied people. And in the process, I have come to believe that all of us are homesick. In fact, our innate home-longing seems to serve as a universal reference for all of us.”

 A Longing for Home, 2004

He’s home. His faith has become sight. His body whole. His joy everlasting.
We will miss his shepherding voice who loved God and people.
We will miss his friendship, honesty, vulnerability, and passion.
We will miss his embrace and radical hospitality.

Lynn Anderson was God’s man.
A preacher sharing Jesus. A poet of hope.
A prophet convicting God’s people.
A priest interceding for struggling believers.

He loved the Psalms as one talking back to God, a conversation deep in his soul. Listen closely. You can hear his voice punctuated with pauses, longings, and praise.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,  
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103.1-5

Canada to the World

His journey of faith began in the grasslands of Saskatchewan, Canada.  He gave his life to Christ at a young age, baptized by the evangelist J.C. Bailey. He shares about walking the grasslands, hills, and coulees of the Anderson homestead outside of Kincaid, SK. All of which bore witness to God’s wonders and fed his soulful imagination. It was a land of rabbits, coyotes, hawks, chokecherry bushes, and flowering crocuses signaling spring. Hard, bitterly, cold winters coupled with the farm life were schoolmasters too.  He walked two-and one-half miles to a one room schoolhouse and later, rode his horse, Old Bird five miles to another school. This rural life cultivated endurance. He could run with the wind, play hockey with the best and though small in stature, was strong in body and spirit.  He could talk to anyone, religious or not. His winsome personality and ease with words were the seeds of God’s call to ministry.  Since there was no high school near him, his parents put him on a train at McCord for boarding school at Western Christian. He was 14. Lynn recounts this time vividly in Longing for Home.

“Dad stood quietly on the platform and looked at me a long time. He shook my hand. Then cleared his throat. Then squeezed my shoulders with a hug. Then shook my hand again. He kept repeating these motions and blinking back the tears, his twitching lips unable to form words. Finally, he spoke huskily and abruptly: “Be strong, Son. And–and remember who you are” Somehow, I knew I would never live at home again.”

To know Lynn is to receive a hug, hear his joy in Christ as he looked deep into your eyes and said, “Be strong and remember who you are!”

Education, Marriage, and Ministry
He left home, never to return except for visits. From Western Christian he went to Freed Hardeman, studied Bible and became one of many “preacher boys” including his dear friend Landon Saunders. At Freed Hardeman he met the love of his life, Carolyn and they began a life of ministry together characterized by sharing Jesus, hospitality, and encouragement in places like Salmon Arm and Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, Lepanto, Ark., Abilene, TX (Highland 1971-1990) and Dallas (Preston Road).  

He loved the fellowship of Churches of Christ and the ideals of the Restoration Movement but came to realize that the Kingdom of God is bigger than one religious’ tribe. He preached his convictions about God’s love, grace and mercy which drew affirmation and criticism. He, however, did his best to stay connected with people who disagreed and even, labeled him.  Lynn Anderson depended on God’s grace, was vulnerable about his weaknesses and called himself a “congenital doubter.” Faith did not come easy for him. But like David, he was a man after God’s own heart. And it was his love for Scripture that sustained his life with God and the call to begin HOPE Network.

HOPE Network

Lynn and Carolyn had a heart for church leaders and founded HOPE Network in December 1996. Mentoring leaders was their passion. Countless ministers and elders participated in mentoring groups for 9 months at a time. Many a minister and spouse were thrown a lifeline by the mentoring guidance and care of Lynn and Carolyn. HOPE Network has grown from Lynn and Carolyn to 25 partners and associates carrying on his legacy of mentoring leaders and guiding churches.

Some of his book titles best capture his passions and longings of his faith and ministry.

A Shepherd’s Song: Finding the Heart to Go On
If I Really Believe, Why Do I Have These Doubt
The Jesus Touch
The Smell Like Sheep I &II
Freshness for a Far Journey: Reflections on Preaching
Navigating the Winds of Change: How to manage change in the church
Longing for a Homeland: Discover the Place you Belong

Talking Back to God: Speaking your heart to God through the Psalms

One of his most popular books “They Smell Like Sheep” was developed into a training package for church leaders. The training package is now available for instant download at

So here we are. Without Lynn.
We, however, have his writings, sermons
and most importantly, his voice in our souls.  

The one thing Lynn would want is for us to love God and people
in the name of Jesus. It’s what it means to smell like sheep.

Thank you, Lynn Anderson!  As you said, “A shepherd is someone God hungry people want to be like.” You were a shepherd, for the sake of others for God’s glory.

Well done good and faithful servant.
See ya’ later!

Grady D. King, D. Min
Co-Leader, HOPE Network

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