I love the Body of Christ, but sometimes some of the members make me require an Advil.
I believe in the Church of the capital “C.” That means that all of the local churches all belong to the big Church – the universal Body of Christ. That means that we are all on the same team. That means that we aren’t in competition with the church down the road. That means that when someone leaves a church to come to ours, we challenge them to work things out with their family. That means that we celebrate when other churches around us grow. Big “C” mentality.
That’s where the Advil comes in, not everyone thinks that way. I was talking with some college students a couple of months ago who were put in a very awkward spot by another pastor. This pastor was telling them to leave North Side and come to his church. The words they shared were, “North Side is big. They don’t need you. We need you at our church.” There were other things that the pastor shared, but basically saying that their church was way better and way cooler than ours and that reason should cause them to leave North Side.
You got to understand something. These college students have been discipled at our church. They have really grown due to investment made in them. They are known, loved, and serving. But this pastor, with an unfortunate fixation on little “c” church, was trying to convince them to leave their family they had committed to during their college years to go somewhere else.
I can promise you that if you want something different in a church than you have at the one you are at now, you can find it. There will always be a church that does something better. I refuse to argue on rating the North Side “coolness” factor. There are churches out there that can “do church” better than us. If you are looking for the latest and greatest light show or cantata, you might want to visit someplace else.
And if I, or any pastor, think that the best way to evangelize your city is by sheep-stealing tactics that just move sheep from one shelter to another, we need to reevaluate our understanding of evangelism and our doctrine of the church.
I promise you, if you’ve got something in particular you are looking for in a church, you will find one out there doing it better than we do. But God is doing stuff in our midst. More so than I’ve ever seen. People are getting saved. Baby Christians are growing into mature disciples. We are sending people all over the world. We are seeing so much growth that we actually do need more volunteers than ever before to serve and disciple all the people that God is bringing our way. The bigger you get, the more needs there are.
And I, as one of the elders at North Side, rejoice at how God is using churches all over this city in the same way. I am thrilled with what I hear is going on in worship services at Emerald Baptist. I could listen to Archie Moore at Greenwood Presbyterian preach all day. I love David Harrell and Jay Phillip’s heart for ministry over at New Covenant. Alan Quigley’s leadership at South Main is one that I wish every seminary student could watch. I love the heart for restoration present at Grace Community Church. And the list goes on and on.
As for those college students, I asked them what they thought. One in particular answered me, “You guys are my family. This church has invested so much in me. I feel like I’m home. I’ve grown so much and it’s time for me to start giving back so that others can benefit from what I’ve received.”
Church, wherever you are, work hard at being the best little “c” church you can be without ever losing sight of the big “C” Church. There’s plenty of people out there for all of us to reach.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
6 thoughts on “Sheep-Stealing Tactics”
very true and appropriate
Thanks, James! I hope it is received well to the big "C."
By the way, I tagged some ministers in the note because I am bragging on them.
Hey Travis I agree with you completely. The numbers show that the majority of "church growth" occurs when members move from one congregation to another. We both know there are plenty of lost people in Greenwood to fill all our churches. I can honestly say if Northside or any other Bible believing church wins my next door neighbor; "Praise the Lord." It makes all of us winners.
Ditto, my friend.
I whole-heartedly agree. I am so thankful for the knowledge I have gained in the past 3 years serving on the Worship team at Northside. I believe as I am now serving at EBC, I am an extension of the Body, that Christ requires His children to be. We are "One in the Bond of Love!"
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