Seeking Shepherds, Not Bo-Peep

Jesus teaches about a seeking shepherd when he said, “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for one that wandered off?”

little-bo-peepHowever, many churches have replaced the picture of a seeking shepherd with the story of another shepherd. “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep, and don’t know where to find them. Leave them alone, and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them.” Her solution is to leave them alone, and they will come home.

That is exactly how an elder in a previous place of ministry defined the evangelistic activity of the church. “We are here on Sunday morning and evening, and Wednesday night. And when they realize they need Jesus they’ll come. Our job is just to keep the door open.” The problem is that people are no longer finding their way back to Christ and the church. Jesus’ model is for us to leave the confines of the camp and find the lost sheep.

Church consultant Kennon Callahan warned a decade ago that “the day of the churched culture is over. The day of the mission field has come.” Today the situation is even more dire. We no longer need pastors who think like missionaries; now the entire congregation needs deputized as missionaries to their own communities.

As Christians, we need to change our mindset from parishioners to participants, from consumers to contributorsshepherd, from “my congregation” to “our community”, and from “bring them in” to “go among them.” A mission outpost view of the local church helps turn a landmark into a lighthouse. It increases a church’s ability to offer acceptance and hope to our unchurched family members, neighbors, and friends.

If Christians begin to think like missionaries, our churches will have to behave in new ways. It starts with willingness to put on our hiking boots and walking into the wilderness of our society, showing the world the relevancy of Jesus Christ.

The most significant issue is that too many Christians have essentially no friendships outside of the church’s membership that go beyond the level of “What new?”, “How are the children?” or “Would you like fries with that?”

A mission is not some distant, remote village. We don’t have to pack our bags and go overseas to participate in Jesus’ mission of gathering lost sheep. Your mission begins just outside of your front door.

Don’t wait for them to find their way home. Go out and find them!