Is Sheep Stealing a Form of Evangelism?

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:

  1. They want exposures to something different – heard about ‘greener’ pastures.
  2. They are bored with their church
  3. They struggle keeping family members interested in church
  4. They were invited to some program/event church was sponsoring.
  5. 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?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Is Sheep Stealing a Form of Evangelism?

  1. This made me think about relationships. Talking about stealing sheep. I see the sheep as the weaker vessel in a marriage relationship. Sheep are special, they require commitment. The shepherd makes a serious mistake when he take his sheep for granted. If the shepherd has neglected his sheep they become hungry for the word. Many have ended up in another shepherd pasture. To find another shepherd who is a narcissist. Some will return to their former shepherd or continue to search for greener pasture.

    The same thing in marriage, we men especially some ministers treat the sheep / our significant other like second class citizens. Some women have just like the sheep have been neglected so long they end up in another man bed. I am talking about emotional and intellectual. This sheep has went without validation, respect for who she is her etc.

    No one need to steal these sheep, they are hungry and looking for something to eat. Some times because the are so under nourished they can not discern a good leader from a bad one.
    A good woman one who fears God will not stray. She will learn how to compensate or lean on the grace of GOD to keep her faithful. She learn how to take the bitter with with the sweet. Especially after counting the cost. She has to much invested to just walk away.

    Both Sheep and significant others are put in a vulnerable situation.
    Vulnerable- susceptible to attack or damage.
    For the sheep they are more susceptible to physical harm. for our significant others it is more of a mental adjustment that require continuous adjusting.

    As I read the comments above, they have a lot in common with why marriages do not last.
    1. Everything is predictable and nothing new to look forward to.
    2. They are bored with their church / marriage

    In closing all i can say is both Shepherd and Husbands need to redirect our priorities.

    Have you ever ate a big meal that you enjoyed. No matter what is put in front of you after such a meal- you could not eat it if you wanted to “YOU GET MY POINT”

    I will bring this up in one of our Men2Men meetings.