People who attend church are often called sheep. It’s a reference Jesus used in the New Testament to refer to His followers (John 10:4 … and his sheep follow him because they know his voice). Jesus identifies himself as our Shepherd.
I was reading today in 1st Corinthians and in the first few chapters, Paul is giving a rebuke to the church about their petty jealousy and their disunity. Some members of the church were saying they were followers of Paul and others Apollos, others Cephas and others Christ. They were arguing about whose sheep they were. Paul gives a strong rebuke on their disunity and then he is very clear that the gospel is about Jesus – not anyone who baptised you or whose church you attend.
He continues with this in chapter 3: “7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Did you see what he did there? It’s all about God – not us. Not who we follow or who we lead. A wise mentor of mine once told me, “There is no such thing as sheep stealing because there is only one shepherd.”
I love the diversity that is the body of Christ. I love that if I want to worship Christ with brothers and sisters in a more liturgical service, I can do so. If I want to worship Him in a more contemporary way, I can do so – sometimes even in the same day.
If we as leaders really believe that success is not in the numbers: Followers Are Not Fruit, then we will loosen the death grip we have on the attendees at church.I am in no way advocating for a careless leadership that has no regard for the people in the seats but that we can give people the freedom to move in the body as they need without anger and jealousy. People will feel the support to find a home where they can grow and be successful sheep under the one Shepherd..