Summary: A message prepared to launch into National Back to Church Sunday Campaign. The message is adapted from the Back to Church Sunday Resources
Our Doors are Open
National Back to Church Preparation Message
September 4, 2011
(Adapted from the National Back to Church Sunday sermon resources)
When was the last time you had to search for something? People misplace things every day. We lose our keys. We forget where we park our car. We even feel like we might lose our minds. When something important goes missing, we make a search for it. We often do not give up until we find what we are looking for.
Jesus was on a great search:
He came to seek and save that which was lost
He went from village to village preaching the good news
He had compassion on people because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd
Jesus said: I have come that they might have life and have it to the fullest
Jesus understands something that the modern church seems to have forgotten. The missing are what matters. If you have your Bibles with you, please open them to Luke 15:1-10.
1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ’Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ’Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:1-10
Before Jesus speaks a single word, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law criticize His behavior. The religious leaders were too busy condemning people instead of reaching people. There was an entire segment of society that was neglected by the religious. These people were those that Jesus reached and revealed His love.
One thing to keep in mind, every single one of these “sinners” were once part of Jewish faith. Every person could be classified as de-churched. These people were missing from the faith community and the religious leadership had no problem with it.
Both of these parables have a familiar quality to them. Both have been preached as examples for increased evangelism to lost people. Both parables highlight the importance of the missing.
Notice the pattern to the parables
1. Something goes missing
2. A search is conducted
3. A celebration is enjoyed
When Jesus speaks these words, He does so in the context of a society that was filled with people who walked away from their faith. These people were viewed as outcasts and rejects. Our society is filled with people who have walked away from the church.
How many of you know someone who used to attend church? The number of de-churched in the United States is climbing each year and this is a harvest field that we need to start tapping into.
Jesus is speaking about the de-churched of His day when he speaks of the lost sheep and the lost coin. The term sheep is always used in reference to the people of God. The coin was found in the house. House was a reference to being in the presence of God. Jesus is talking about people who belonged to God but had left an active faith.
Why does Jesus tell these stories?
Jesus is communicating compassion for people
Jesus made it His mission to reach out to the people who were the missing. Part of our mission should be to reach the “missing”. We cannot afford to forget that what is missing is what matters.
Jesus crowns unlikely heroes
The heroes of the story are not what the audience would expect. The hero of a shepherd and a woman were highly unexpected by the religious leaders of the day.
Shepherd: Shepherds were seen as second class citizens of the day. They were common laborers and viewed nearly on the same level as slaves. Shepherds were often uneducated and viewed as unimportant.