Length: 5-minute read
2022: The Year of the Lost Sheep
This is my vision and burden for the global church in 2022.
My burden is for the lost sheep but I also envision 2022 to be the Year of the Shepherd – tireless and relentless.
The fallout from the pandemic is that many Christians have stopped going to church (in person).
Never have there been so many lost sheep.
Churches are reopening (depending on the city). Pastors are looking forward to it with both anticipation and apprehension. Anticipation because finally we can get going again but apprehension because we will be confronted with reality.
The fog of war clears and we will have the answer to the question: “How many left and how many left?”
Jesus says 99 are left and 1 has left.
From the stats and reports I am reading and from what I have observed and heard from friends globally – the reality seems to be more like 59 sheep left and 41 sheep left. The church just went through the Blip. Thanos snapped his fingers and half the church disappeared.
Millions of Christians are now like spiritual refugees – displaced, dislodged and dislocated from the Body of Christ.
They have lost the habit of going to church and the commitment of serving in church.
What is worrying is that they have replaced spiritual habits with cooking, cycling, hiking and even growing plants at home. I just read a report that sales of all these items have been going through the roof. Worse, because of the boredom of staying home, youths are even more addicted to gaming, binging and porn.
OK, enough of this morbid talk.
The worst of times can also become the best of times.
2022 is also the Year of the Shepherd.
It is the year when the relentless and tireless shepherd will rise.
Luke 15 is not just about the prodigal son but the loving Father. And it is certainly not about sheep but about the searching Shepherd. Likewise, 2022 is about the loving and searching shepherds.
Pastors and leaders, we are born for such a time as this.
2022 is not a time to be discouraged or be distracted.
2022, let’s bring the lost sheep home.
If you are game, let me share with you simple ways to bring the sheep home. In fact, I am excited because every shepherd can do this, not just celeb preachers or megachurches. The current landscape is that churches have pivoted online. But I have observed that it is evolving. Since the pandemic, churches have gone High Tech but Christians are now missing the High Touch pastoral care. People are tired of being socially distanced and limited to small groups. They are tired of staying home. We noticed this during Christmas at Heart of God Church. We had both online and in-person services but most people chose in-person without hesitation. Their comments were: “I don’t want to spend another Christmas at home.” People wanna go out. People wanna be with people.
So it has come full circle. During the pandemic, churches pivoted to High Tech but now we need to pivot back to High Touch.
Now here’s the opportunity – this is the time for shepherds.
3 simple ways to bring back the lost sheep.
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1. Online and social media are white noise now. Personal and individual connections cut through the noise.
Pastors have been using YouTube, social media, podcasts and every form of mass communication and platform available to attract and invite people to services. But because everything is so High Tech now, it has actually made traditional connections and invites more valuable and effective. A personal text, call, even snail mail with “human” handwriting have more impact than slick Instagram posts. My mom who is attending a traditional Mandarin-speaking church has not gone in person for two years and made no attempt to return. But when her pastor visited her and had coffee with her, she returned. In HOGC, I heard so many stories of how a personal connection brought lost sheep home.
Personal connection works because the older gen wants bespoke and individualized. Gen Y, Z and A want real and organic.
And everyone can do personal connection!
Megachurches demand pastors to become CEOs and superstar preachers but now it’s the shepherd who will really win back the lost sheep.
That is why this is the year of the shepherds.
2. People are no longer so impressed with High Tech. So in-person services must focus on High Touch elements.
As Ps Lia always says: “Do the important, not the impressive.”
High Tech may be more impressive but High Touch is more impactful.
This is not the time to upgrade to LED screens. Big screen, small screen, people are sick of screens. A personal prayer is more appreciated than any slick production.
I wrote about this in another article – Non-downloadables.
Bring on the Non-downloadables in your in-person services.
Read more about the Non-downloadables at:
3. Unchurched Christian parents think they are OK, but are concerned about their unchurched teenagers and kids. Bring the children Home first.
Parents who have not been to church for years feel they are OK spiritually but their kids need church. A little bit of a double standard here but it doesn’t matter. Bring the kids back first and the parents will follow.
Get your kids and youth services running full on. In fact, if I had limited manpower and had to choose, I would prioritize kids and youth services over the rest.
Get those kids’ home visitations going too. The parents may insist they are OK spiritually and don’t need a visit from the “pastor”, but their kids need it.
So pastors and leaders, we need to go back to the old, simple ways of pastoral care to bring back the lost sheep.
It’s not rocket science and every leader can do it – coffee, meals, face-to-face prayers, a text, a call, a card, a visit, a hug. Let’s go back to basics… to caring, loving and serving.
It is that simple. But simple is not easy, because it takes a lot of hard work and heart work. That is why 2022 is the year of the relentless and tireless shepherd.
Let’s go #BringThemHome
We got this.
READ THIS NEXT
2022 is the Year of the Lost Sheep.
2022 is also the Year of the Lost SonS. You’ve heard about the Prodigal Son.. How about the Prodigal SonS?
One lost in the world. One lost in the House.
There are lost sons and daughters in the House.
Let’s bring them Home.
(Hint: It is not about getting them back to “‘attend”’ church services again.)
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Yes, it’s the truth. High Touch! I m from the old ways generation. Meeting up for coffee, handwritten encouragement notes, etc 🙂
Thanks Pastor How for such timely and powerful reminder!
WOWWW Pastor How!! This message is so timely, even as a youth who strayed away from the house of God during the covid period while I was stuck online I feel like if I had a high touch maybe I would not have strayed away so easily!! The thing about having a screen in front of you is that it serves as a barrier which holds you back from connecting to people!! As engaging as a video might be, at the end of the day there are no relationships formed and deepened. The convenience of it may seem like a plus side but in reality it pulls people away from a church more than it pulls people to church and God!! What we need is bonds formed and people to show they care, this is how lost sheep will be shepherd back to the house of God!!
Thank you Pastor How for this article that sets the tone for the season… Indeed, as a pastoral leader I have heard how members who joined our online services and then experienced in person services say “I never want to go back to Zoom again!” It’s so true how being high-tech served us for a time, but it’s taught us the value of high touch as well…
So stirred and encouraged to put this into practice and challenged to be a shepherd who will put in heart and hard work, to focus on the important, not the impressive.
I love how this article brings back the perspective of how winning back the lost sheep, is really not rocket science. Every leader, you and me – can do it! After a long drawn season of many hiding behind their screens, the importance of High Touch stands out even more. Thank you Pastor How, for bringing such clarity and also for rallying all of us to be on this in 2022. Ready to #BringThemHome !
Thank you Pastor How for sharing this … ! On the surface, these insights are simple, but there was also so much depth into this. Thank you also for aligning the church whenever we enter a new season in our heart, and hands. In our heart, regarding the attitude we should carry as shephards who are tireless and relentless – I feel challenged to grow in this area. And in our hands, regarding the manner in which we can be effective evangelists, and integrators to win our friends and family. Love the wisdom and insights, and I am excited for what God is going to do as the church brings back the elements of “high touch” in 2022! I believe many lives will be touched this year – the sheep are coming back.
Wow yes! Thank you for writing this insightful article Pastor How!
It’s so true how personal interactions will cut through the noise because so many things have come up in social media since everything went online. But now the things that people miss is the non-downladables!
Ready for the heart work to bring the lost sheep back to the Shepherd! #BringOn2022
Thank you Pastor How, for breaking it down to such simple steps and showing us that it’s not limited to the skilled or the intelligent. Personally, I feel empowered, and strengthened – that I don’t have to constantly find new ways in a world that is constantly changing. The truth is truly sometimes that simple.
Lastly I love the ending sentence –
“It is that simple. But simple is not easy, because it takes a lot of hard work and heart work. That is why 2022 is the year of the relentless and tireless shepherd.”
The steps are simple, but the work is still hard. We still must plough and we still must plod. And now, I appreciate my relentless and tireless leaders and friends even more!
Pastor How wrote this with the heart of a spiritual father, I can hear his heart cry for those who strayed. In fact God is probably feeling it so much more. Indeed, I have seen many of my friends finding refuge in hobbies like baking, cooking, exercising, and working to mask the emptiness over the last 2 years. Never has there been a time like this when reliefs come so conveniently. Where the emptiness of the hearts can be so easily masked. However Pastor How is right, people are craving for the human touch. We cannot be fooled that technology is able replace human touch. As I read this, I feel a heavy burden, and I pray that God will give us the courage and tenacity to be His hand and feet to touch His lost sheep. As the song Hosanna goes, ‘break my heart for what breaks yours.’
So much to chew on and think about in this insightful article!! No more hiding behind a screen, I felt challenged to go back to the basics and bring the love of Christ to others. Thank you for setting the direction and alignment for 2022!!
My heart and spirit is so STIRRED!!!!
Thank you Pastor How for this – this article is like a laser of light that cuts through the fog and white noise of “what does it mean to live in this endemic/pandemic”. This vision brings so much clarity and direction to Christians all over the world.
I’ve been feeling so burdened for my friends who have stopped attending their church, so helpless at the same time to see them growing distant from God. This articule has shed so much light and truth. We don’t need another event, another program. We just need to go back to the foundations of carrying the Shepherd’s heart for the Lost! Do the Important not the Impressive!
2022, I want to grow to have a Shepherd’s heart and #BringThemHome!
Wow, this article clearly brings out the issues we are facing these days as a church – so spot on and on point! It’s so true that online is now becoming white noise – people are experiencing zoom fatigue and they prefer meeting in person instead of over video calls. Many people commented that they have a new found appreciation for in-person services after Covid happened, and I’m just so grateful that in our church our Pastors and leaders have been working tirelessly to run in-person services amidst Covid just so many more people can experience the presence of God. Love the 3 simple ways to win back the lost sheep, as a pastoral leader it gives us a clear direction on what we can do to ride on this vision. And over Christmas we have witnessed this – so many (lost) Christians were searching for in-person services to attend and they said that they missed the atmosphere and all the non-downloadables. Just so expectant for all that God is gona do through us as we focus on this vision and to keep reaching the lost sheep as Shepherds and to lead them back home to Jesus! Gona go back to the basics of pastoral care to love and serve God and others!
This article is so insightful and puts so many truths in to simple to understand, practical steps! It’s so true that nowadays, in-person relationships, the high touch is so much more impactful and valued as opposed to the online. From the youngest to the oldest, everyone is looking for that personal touch – even those that previously wanted preferred to stay online, are now opting to have a more in-person relationship!
Indeed, this year, it shall be the year of the Shepherd – and can’t wait to see more and more lost sheeps come back Home.
Wow, I believe this article really sets the direction for all the pastors and leaders locally and globally to really bring back all the lost sheep. In our church, I can see why SPs and Pastors really pour in resources for Youth and Children. Children church services has been back for more than a month and we see children pouring in and many experiencing God and parents coming back! Nothing beats the basics of loving, caring and serving people! Inspired keep going through the grind!
I really love how Pastor How’s article clearly articulated everything that the Christians I’ve spoken to are feeling. In fact, I spoke to a Christian friend who visited our in-person services over Christmas. He shared with me that “You can’t replicate the worship atmosphere in your living room.” He hadn’t been to an in-person service for 2 years and it was obvious how much he missed the personal touch. It’s time to go back to the High Touch, the non-downloadables where the warmth of the church can be felt! Thank you Pastor How for this timely article that has helped to realign my focus for 2022. Ready for the heart work to bring all the lost sheep back home!
Thank you Ps How for writing this article! It gave me so much clarity because I now have a better understanding of what God has been doing in this particular season…bringing the lost sheep back to Him and His house. I personally witnessed how in my connect group there were many new people who easily agreed to come over Christmas for in-person services and they indicated they enjoyed the atmosphere, interaction and personal prayer the most…those are all the “high touch” elements which prevail over the “high tech”! And the direction of how this is the “Year of the Shepherd” puts so much anticipation in my heart…this is the time people are searching for direction, for guidance, even for discipleship…and there is no better time to love and care…so we can lead the lost sheep to the ultimate Shepherd!