I was thinking today about Jesus’ words in John 10:16 (NIV): “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Jesus has claimed sheep that are not already in the sheep pen. There are people in each of our communities that He has claimed.
The next sentence is interesting: “I must bring them also.” I believe many in the church have given up on outreach. They think someone else will do it. They read this sentence and think that outreach is not their responsibility. Some say that outreach is the responsibility of those whose gift is evangelism. But those thoughts are in error. As a part of the body of Christ, we do what the Head tells us to do. We serve as His hands, feet, and voices to go to, help, and share Jesus with the lost, hurting, and unchurched sheep of our communities.
In His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), he did not say let the lost come to church before you do anything for them. He did not say that those who are called should do outreach. He did not say only some with the gift of evangelism should participate. No, he said go and make disciples of all nations. If we are Christians, we are His body and we are to do what the Head tells us. We cannot make disciples of all nations without outreach (reaching out). Each of us should use our gifts to love/care for people to Jesus. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we go from being sheep to being shepherd-stewards of His sheep. We join Him in caring for His flock (some of which are not already in the sheep pen).
Sunday School is a great tool for mobilizing the church to carry out Jesus’s command. We should be in classes by age groups so we can be responsible for a specific segment of people. Senior adults are best reached by senior adults. Teens are best reached by teens and so on.
Also, new classes tend to be even more evangelistic than existing classes, often growing to 20 in enrollment and 10 in attendance in 12-18 months. And Sunday School helps us share the gospel with lost people even more effectively than worship alone. Statistics by Andy Anderson (Growth Spiral) show us that only about 1 out of 342 lost people accept a relationship with Jesus through worship alone in 12 months while 1 out of 3 lost people do so through Sunday School. The environment for interaction, questions answered, and personal touch provided through Sunday School enables lost/unchurched sheep to take the next step.
Here is my application question. Which of the lost/unchurched sheep has Jesus prepared you to shepherd? The personal invitation is still powerful today. Don’t be afraid to ask. But don’t discouraged if it takes an average of 20 touches before you see results. Care. Build relationships. Minister. Invite. Be revolutionary enough to help the lost/unchurched listen to His voice calling them to become a part of His flock, of His body. If you don’t go, they won’t come. If you don’t ask, they won’t say yes! Invite. Go. Ask. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!