"Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat and ye clothe yourself with the wool, ye kill them that are fed, but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; ....and they were scattered, because there is no shepherd and they became meat to all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through the mountain and upon every high hill; yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth and none did search or seek after them." Ezekiel 34:2-6
I have been in church all my life. I have seen a lot of changes in how we do "church". Most churches used to be small, community churches...neighborhood churches where everyone knew everyone else. When someone was missing, you knew it. Today we are in the age of the "mega church", different services, no Sunday night services, etc. The larger we grow, the more disconnected we seem to become.
I can remember a time when someone was absent from Sunday School, they were sent a card to let them know that they were missed. That RARELY ever happens any more! One can be gone from Sunday School for weeks, and no one even calls to see if you are OK. Everyone is just too busy! But that is NOT how church is supposed to be.
Even in our mega churches we break into smaller groups...some still call it Sunday School, some call it Connecting Points, some call it Break Out Groups...there are a multitude of names. But within those small groups, we need to be ministering to one another, reaching out to one another. And the leader of the group has the responsibility to "shepherd" that group...his flock. That is a critical role. How many people that are now "prodigals"...those who once walked faithfully with the Lord but have now gone the way of the world, would still be in church and still be in relationship if someone....especially, their leader...had sought them out when they first went "missing"?!!
Seldom does one just STOP coming abruptly. It is a process. You miss one Sunday or two. Then you come back. Did anyone even acknowledge you had been gone? Then that was so easy, you miss a few more...then a few more...til one day, you just stop coming. Satan has lured you away to other things...convincing you that it is not that important, that it doesn't really matter, that no one missed you anyway. How many youth would be strong, godly adults today, walking with Lord, had someone pursued them when they first began to pull away?
This passage has strong words for the pastors/teachers who do not pursue those who have gone missing. But even those of us who are fellow class members bear a part in that. Maybe we need to start taking notice when someone is missing from our class and drop them a note or send them an email to let them know that we recognized their absence, to see if there is a problem and we can help. There are a lot of hurting people in our classes every Sunday...a lot of hurting people filling the pews. Some walk in off the street just hoping that someone will care..someone will reach out to them with a kind word, a smile, a hug. Is one of them sitting next to you??????
We recently had a campaign in our church called "Walk Across the Room". It was evangelistic in nature, encouraging us to "walk across the room" and start a conversation with someone with the goal of leading them to Christ. That is great and very much needed. However, if we, as believers, cannot even walk across the room to speak to a visitor in our class, how can we walk across the room to engage someone in conversation about the Lord? We need to get out of our comfort zones and be willing to reach out to people, show we care, and love them with the love of the Lord. And if one goes missing, we should notice and seek them out. Otherwise they may become "meat to the beasts of the field" !!
2 days ago