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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