Words from Pastor Kestler
Leaving the 99 to Find the 1
In the Bible Jesus told a parable of a man who owned one hundred sheep but one ran away. In the parable Jesus asks in Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” Of course, when we want to understand who the sheep represent, we find out later in verse seven that the sheep represent a sinner who needs to repent. Aren’t you thankful if Jesus has saved you that He saw you out of a population of 6 billion people and He came and gave you a brand new life when you placed your faith in Him? This is a wonderful parable and so is the truth behind it. However, when I think about this parable, I am also reminded of our church members who have not returned to church as we have come out of the pandemic. Thomas Rainer, former president of Lifeway Research, said that church leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention anticipate 20-30% of church members that attended before the pandemic will not ever return after the pandemic. These are sobering numbers. I pray that time will have a way of disproving these numbers at least for our church. Can we do that pastor? Do you think we can beat the odds? Yes I do! Here is how we bring the sheep back – by one church member at a time reaching out to one church member at a time that hasn’t been coming. People want to hear good sermons, people want to hear good music, people want to have areas in the church they can get involved, but they very much want and need to be loved. It is built within the system of our born-again selves as followers of Jesus to love and be loved by fellow disciples of Jesus Christ. Have we made the effort to look out in our congregation on Sunday mornings and observe who hasn’t been coming as we open back up to more normally? Now I know that we can’t force everyone to come back. It has to be their choice. However, I believe we can at least make the effort to reach out to them an express to them that we love them and we want them to come back. We shouldn’t do it to get numbers up. We should do it because we love our church family. A simple phone call, text, or card to let them know we missed them could make all the difference. It may not sound like much, but our churches will never grow if even our own do not fill needed or loved. I feel convicted about my efforts. I am asking you to feel the same way with me. Let’s each our part. Let’s leave the ninety-nine sheep and go look for the one.