Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swapping Sheep

I just received this message from my DS, in his weekly email. It's an interesting read.
Recently, I've jokingly taken up the motto "Contributing to the growth of local mega-churches one disgruntled family at a time." TFC has been on the 'wrong' side of these stats but we have been able to disciple some people who had never been in church before.
So here's what Jeren passed on from another pastor on the Kansas City District.
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Want to hear some stats? Probably not… well, here’s some anyway.

* Since 2000 to 2005 the number of churches with attendance over 5,000 on the weekends has doubled!
* In the last 20 years, 30,000 churches have been started in America.
* Since 1990, church attendance is down in every county in the United States. You read that right—in every single county—attendance is down.

So now answer this one: If, since 1990, hundreds of churches have blasted into the thousands (some into the tens of thousands), and if 30,000 new churches have been started (many of them growing into the thousands), how is it possible that there are less people going to church now than in 1990 in every single county in the United States? In fact, how is it possible that the number of people going to church is down by about 8 million people?

Here’s what I think: Churches aren't reaching "unchurched" people. If we were bringing in people who weren't going to church, the numbers couldn't look like they do. Here’s what happening-- sheep are simply swapping pastures. I'm no math whiz, but if there are hundreds of thousands of people now attending churches who weren't attending twenty years ago (many in churches that didn't even exist) and yet there are 8 million less people in church today, then those people in those new hip churches had to come from other churches. Sheep swapping pastures. Yawn.

I don't think the passage reads, “And all of heaven rejoiced when a disgruntled sheep took his Bible and found a different, greener pasture to munch the grass for a while until he found an even greener pasture to hang out in for a while.” I think the passage reads, “And all of heaven rejoiced when one lost sheep is found.”

Listen, I am not interested in stealing sheep from the Nazarene church (or the Baptist church or the whatever church) down the street. I'm driven to find lost sheep. It’s the sheep that don't have a pasture to call home that I'm after. I'm after sheep that are hungry and homeless and helpless. I want us to go after the sheep that need Jesus. That’s the sheep with whom we need to be consumed! If a disgruntled sheep gets tired of his pasture (and pastor); soon that sheep will get tired of this pasture (and pastor). Let’s concentrate on new sheep. Lost sheep. Hungry sheep. Let’s look for sheep that need Jesus. We need to be on the lookout for the sheep that are on their way to hell unless someone tells them, shows them, loves them, calls them, and points them to Jesus. I pray that we're that “someone.”


Amen.