The Difference Between Sheep and Goats

I received a call the other day that took me by surprise.  It seems  a para-church ministry has come in contact with many unchurched or dechurched people and felt a need to offer them a general invitation to a church in the community.  The person on the other end of the phone call stated that many of the people they reach don’t have connections with a church.  The ministry reaches people with multiple needs including addiction, emotional issues, and  the like.  In other words, these are needy people.  They bring “baggage”.  And often times, they’ve burned bridges with many people.  Honestly, this part of the conversation wasn’t what surprised me.  After all, this is just another day in ministry.

The person then stated they had a few questions for me:

1.  What denomination (or lack thereof) would I consider our church? 

 The leaders of the para-church ministry felt strongly about listing the community churches on a flier that included denominational leanings.  Again, no surprise.  This is normally a great resource for media outlets (newspapers, chamber of commerce, etc.) to distribute to new residents.  I explained our church is non-denominational but we have many people from many backgrounds.  Therefore, we might be considered multi-denominational.  The person stated they understood and would list our church and contact information.  They then proceeded to question two.

2.  Would our church be willing to be listed in a directory that includes all of the community churches?  

This question seemed strange to me.  The church I minister with has always taken an active role in the community.  In fact, those in attendance at community gatherings read the mission statement on a consistent basis: At the heart of the community with the community at heart.  We are encouraged to GO SERVE SOMEONE!  The church has fundraisers that benefit local ministry, a community Easter egg hunt, and a Fall Fun Festival for the community.  There are also other smaller events throughout the year.

I guess what surprised me was having to be asked.  And I answered, “Of course.”  There must have been a hint of surprise within my voice.  The person I was talking with offered an explanation for the question without being asked.  “The reason I’m asking is that I have had one church tell me ‘no’.  Because of that, I want to ask everyone if they want to be listed or not.”  Really?  A church in town told you they weren’t interested in ministry?  “They said they just didn’t want to be involved.  Those people bring too much baggage.  There are too many needs.”  Honestly, I didn’t know what to say.  After a few seconds of trying to take in what I’d just heard, I said something to the effect of, “What a shame.  Isn’t that what the Church is all about?”

Jesus displayed the heart of a servant.  He taught we should do the same.  And in my mind, when the Church doesn’t do what Christ called us to do, we’re no longer the Church.  We become a social club, a group of people who only interact with our group – very narcissistic!  Let me say again:  What a shame! Need we be reminded of the sheep and goats?

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6 Responses to “The Difference Between Sheep and Goats”

  1. Tammy Haskell Says:

    Wow!!! Did Jesus not say, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick (people with baggage). But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 We all have issues (baggage). I believe he calls us into ministry (Christians in Action) to help others let go of their baggage and let Jesus carry it. We are called to love and accept those who cannot help themselves, support the fatherless and the widows, serve not be served. My prayer is that we do not miss one of “the least of these” and that we do everything we can to help them in their time of need (with all their baggage).

  2. Yes Tammy. Wow! It’s naive to think we can meet all of the needs of the world. But at the same time, the Church is not being “Christians in Action” if we’re sitting on our hands and telling those around us to get over their needs. Thanks for entering the conversation!

  3. …I had a lot of baggage once… and I was blessed that there were people that loved me enough to care… and I still consider myself as one “with baggage” because I’m not in heaven yet.

    I am thankful for “that” pastor – “that” friend – who loves enough to rile up the followers of God on to the front line… and to love ALL those who God made in His Image.

    • Hey Maria! PTL Jesus is in the business of taking our “baggage.” It’s great to realize the healing taking place and to see others God is healing. What a blessing!

  4. I am glad that Jesus did not sit on his hands, but was very active! I am also very thankful that God sent his son as a perfect example for us. Jesus went to the cross so those of us with “baggage” could have everlasting life. This sends a huge message of the love and dedication that God has for people with baggage! God gave us the key to his heart through his son, we should be very motivated to share his love! Bible 101 stuff!

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