Like many kids’ pastors, I found myself with a job I did not sign up for. This particular assignment required me to drive my pickup truck to a complete stranger’s house to collect a very large sheep named Hope and deliver her to the church for every Easter Production practice and performance.
I found myself practice after practice meeting with Ms. Betty, the kind, old owner of the sheep, getting Hope and returning her later. One night, as I went to get Hope, I discovered Ms. Betty was ill and unable to help me secure Hope as before. So, from inside her home, she shouted out instructions, "Take a bucket of food, stand in the field, and Hope will come to you!” I did exactly what she said, except instead of only Hope, I was shocked to see roughly 100 large sheep sprinting towards me from every direction. I was scared until they all stopped about 15 ft. from me and would go no further. From the back of this large herd of sheep, one single sheep pushed through the rest and walked right up to me looking me straight in the eyes. I caught myself saying out loud, "Hope?"
In John 10:27 it says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
We know as church leaders how important it is for God's people to hear His voice and do what He says. We know God is the shepherd, and we are His sheep. We also realize that every person, even the youngest, isimportant to God.
In fact, with some of his last words on this earth, Jesus instructed Peter to “feed my lambs.” He didn’t just say "sheep," but lambs. We all know there are wolves out there; this culture is full of them. They see our little lambs, and they have an appetite for them. Just as Jesus challenged Peter, "Feed my lambs," I believe Jesus is challenging us.
What are you doing to care for the kids in your community?
We are not only responsible for the care of the kids that pass through the doors of our churches, but we are responsible for the kids in our community.
As kids’ pastors and church leaders it's easy to fall into the traps that says, "We can only minister to kids that show up" or "It's not my job to reach out; that's the outreach pastor’s job." Friend, we cannot give into this thought. We must pursue the lambs. We are in a race against the wolves. They have no problem going after them. Why would we let ourselves off the hook?
Just as in the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd leaves the 99 to find the one, so must we never stop searching for the one. Our church does this by having a thriving bus ministry for kids. We engage with their parents and visit them weekly. We pick them up, feed them, and give them food for their homes as well.
We have school assemblies and programs designed to pursue kids in our public schools. We create big events tailor-made for kids who have never been in a church before. We are relentless in the pursuit of God's lost little lambs.
When the task seems impossible, challenging, or difficult, we remind ourselves that God's spirit is in us and is more powerful than the one in the world!
My prayer for you is that God would give you a stronger passion for the lost kids in your community. It's time shepherd, go searching!