Last year one of our students who had been absent for several months finally returned to our weekly youth service. Through emails, phone calls and visits; my wife, leadership, youth and I reached out to this student in an attempt to bring her back. Today we are thanking and praising God that she has returned.
However, during those months I heard negative comments regarding our attempt to keep in contact with this one student. Some kept asking why we were relentlessly seeking her out. I was even told that I was “nuts” and was “wasting my time” with a “teenager who doesn’t care.” No matter what, it never deterred any one of us from seeking out this one student.
So, why did we relentlessly seek out this one student? It’s simple really; God tells us to. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV);
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
In these verses Jesus is referring to believers, those who wander from the church family or youth ministry, our own. Unfortunately some have misinterpret these verses to mean the unsaved. But how can someone who is unsaved wander away or stray. An unbeliever doesn’t have anything to stray away from. Clearly God is commanding us to go after, seek and find those who leave out our back doors.
I recently read an article in which they discussed why people leave the church. In the article a pastor was quoted as saying; “We’re not doing enough for those that come in our front door, and we’re doing nothing for those going out our back door.”
We need to pay more attention and get more involved in the lives of our young people so we don’t allow them to stray away. However, I believe many spend too much time in the church taking care of “stuff.” You know, making sure everything is in place, the “right” people show up, and things look just right (logistics). It’s like the story of the parents who were too busy getting ready for their dinner guests to notice that their three year old son wandered out the back door heading straight for the pool.
When it comes to your youth ministry or even your church family as a whole, is your back door unlocked and your children wandering away? If so, “go to look for the one that wandered off.”
Have you ever relentlessly pursued someone who has left the church? What happened…good, bad, nothing?