Is Sheep Stealing a Form of Evangelism?
Is sheep stealing a form of evangelism? I guess it could be in one sense, but who, worth their salt would recommend stealing. I mean one of the 10 Commandments is “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”
Many pastors would defend their position in that they are are not saying, “Leave your church and come to mine” no matter how desperate times are.
One of the main concerns of many pastors and church conferences is the ever declining membership and ‘empty pews.’
Church conferences have instructed many of their churches to put evangelistic strategies in place to draw in more members. How to do this effectively is what, I believe, has been the greatest challenge.
From a member’s point of view when you say ‘evangelism,’ you think about the ‘hard’ sale, the knocking on an unsuspecting neighbor’s door – DREAD!
It is so much easier to talk to your saved friends and family sharing with them the great things that are happening at your churches and before you know it, they have defected. Oops!
What is sheep stealing?
The most simplest definition of Sheep stealing’ is when a church actively recruits people from other churches.
I’m not sure who really coined this term, ‘sheep stealing’ but can say I am not a fan of it as it suggests that pastors are intently and deliberately going after other pastor’s flock.
When we think about Jesus’ Great Commission, “Go out and make disciples…” I am sure Jesus was not suggesting go out and get those already disciples, but rather in today’s terms make disciples of the “UN-churched ” – those unsaved and or those saved without a church home.
If we do not put together an intentional evangelist plan that will yield us the unsaved or saved without a church home, we will inadvertently find that the additional members sitting in our churches did defect from other churches and will be accused of stealing other pastor’s flocks.
Are the majority of pastors in the business of sheep stealing?
I don’t believe this is the case at all. The mantra that most pastors have come to embrace is, “whosoever will let him come.” I believe most pastors would prefer the UN-churched and those without a church home, but in the days of declining membership all are welcome regardless of church affiliation.
Why do sheep visit other pastures?
It could be any number of reasons, but I took time to share 5 top reasons people have shared with me on why they visit other churches:
- They want exposures to something different – heard about ‘greener’ pastures.
- They are bored with their church
- They struggle keeping family members interested in church
- They were invited to some program/event church was sponsoring.
- They were feeling spiritually deficient
Who are those susceptible to having their sheep stolen?
As I evaluate churches, read and listen to testimonials, I think churches most susceptible to having their sheep stolen are churches who insist on keeping their programming the same.
This is the way we have always done it. The music, the order of worship, annual programs all the same. Even the look in and outside of the church is the same.
Everything is predictable and there is nothing new to look forward to.
What can be done to safeguard your sheep?
- You and your team do an assessment of your Sunday morning and evening church services, your annual services, etc.
- Solicit anonymous feedback and suggestions from your congregation from the youngest to the oldest.
- Invite feedback from your visitors about their experience at your church
- Implement something new that had been suggested and publicize that you had done this.
- Put together an intentional evangelism plan that targets the community, the UN-churched, and the saved folks without a home.
Other than to chain your members to the pews, can you suggest additional ideas on how to safeguard your sheep?