Sheep Stealing?

I was recently  having a discussion with some people who were new to our town and were looking for a church to attend.  Ours had been suggested by a mutual friend, so they dropped in to have a look around and ask some questions.  I was a little surprised when asked if Extreme Life was the biggest church in town.  My reply was “Not yet”.  I was astounded when the reply to my answer was a pointed finger and the accusation of “Ah, so you’re a sheep stealer!“.

Image sent to me by email, not sure where it originated from.

Image sent to me by email, not sure where it originated from.

I very quickly responded, informing that we have absolutely no intention of ever stealing sheep from anywhere else.  In fact we are quite direct with people when it comes to such activity.  When we get repeat visitors from other churches here in town, we actually phone the other church and ask if they know that they have people dropping in more than once to our meetings.  This usually very quickly resolves any potential “sheep stealing” issues.

To be quite honest, the whole concept of just relocating believers from other churches to our church, is quite repulsive.  Christian relocation programs in no way answer the challenge Jesus left of  “Go into all the world and make disciples of all men“.  This involves reaching into our community to those who do not not know Jesus and showing him to them.  Our growth strategy is a very simple one…Be Jesus to our city, show as many people as we can his love and grace and the amazing power of Biblical, Christian living.  As we introduce people to Jesus and they follow the Biblical pattern of being “saved and added“, our church grows.  Simple!  The Kingdom is also grown as more and more people step into the rule and reign of Jesus.

Sadly, not too many churches are very well known for being effective at this kind of growth, or for even presenting the Gospel very well to those who do not know Jesus yet.  At Extreme Life, we value ensuring that every believer knows the truth and has a grace in the way they present it to others.  We never want to be the street screamers or those bashing down doors to offend people with something they don’t want to know, but we are always looking for opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ to those who need it most.  Jesus himself said that “it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick” and that he came for those who recognise that we cannot earn of achieve our own way to God in Heaven, but can only freely accept the incredible gift that only he can give…His own righteousness in place of our lack thereof.

We can have relationship with God because Jesus opened the way by living the perfect life for us and having his perfect life, written over the record of our lives.  That is truly amazing!

My goal is to reach as many as possible with the incredible truth of the Bible and all of the benefits and blessings it makes available to us.  This will actually add to Kingdom growth instead of just church growth by relocating some current believers into our church.

Sadly there are other pastors in town that don’t mind the “sheep stealing church growth” strategy and are currently and actively targeting members of Extreme Life, inviting them to leave us and go and be a part of what they are doing.  Every time I hear of this happening, it staggers me that they would have the audacity to attempt this and the rudeness and just plain slack attitude of taking those building with us to build with them while having little concern for the tens of thousands in our town that desperately need to have Jesus presented well to them.  What I do love though, is that our guys largely, have the maturity to reject the advances of these predators and to let me know about it…but relax guys, I will not be blogging about who you are.  You have enough to live with already…yourselves!

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4 responses to “Sheep Stealing?

  • turbo

    nice piece i have one neighbour who returns any of my sheep when they get out and vise versa we have a trusting relationship but the other neighbour yeah the sign says one way no trust there, i give back them back soon as i see them because of disease,

  • Nicky

    Gr8 read m’ man!! 🙂

  • Paul Collinson

    This is my most popular blog post EVER!
    This entry gets more hits than any of my other posts…and mostly from my own local area.
    Obviously it has caught a few people’s attention and entered into the local gossip conversation loop, causing some of them to come and check it out.
    Hopefully it is making a positive difference in how some make their choices…but somehow I think it is more likely just being used to sledge me??

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