Summary: What makes sheep? Sheep make sheep. And we are his people and the sheep of His pasture. So how do we go about making more sheep for His flock?

In a large city there was once a prominent church building. It was a beautiful four story structure that dominated the city block on which it stood. It was well known in the community for its beautiful building, it’s dignified and well educated preacher, a choir with professional quality, and a congregation of filled with wealthy and important people.

And in the foyer of their church building there was a beautiful 10 foot tall marble statue of Christ with his arms outstretched.

It was an impressive congregation, but unfortunately, it was also a congregation that was slowly dying. Why? Because they didn’t try to bring people to Jesus. They thought people would come to them because they’d be impressed with their building, their preacher, their choir and membership.

One night a fire broke out, and the building went up in flames. The floor under the statue of Christ gave way and the statue crashed into the basement of the church building.

The next afternoon, after the fire department had doused the flames workmen started to clean up and remove any surviving valuables. It was then, that they found the statue of Jesus in the basement. It had hardly a mark on it. Gently they got a cable around it, lifted it out with a crane and set it on the sidewalk.

Two businessmen were passing by and they looked at the ruins of the church and at the statue of Christ. One said, "Well, looks like Jesus is all they’ve got left." Dave McFadden

I’m reminded of the comment Paul made about the Church being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ: “If anyone builds on this foundation (Jesus) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” I Corinthians 3:12-13

APPLY: In that big impressive church nothing survived the fire --- except Jesus.

When the fire had run its course, that congregation had no building left.

They had no place for their dignified preacher.

They had no place for their professional choir.

They had no place for wealth and power.

All they had left was Jesus.

The Bible is very clear about the fact that all the church should ever need is Jesus.

When Jesus had His final meeting with His disciples He told them:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given TO ME. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

The Church was established by Jesus’ authority.

It exists for Him.

Colossians 1:16-18 says that “by (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

In other words: The church exists for Jesus.

In fact – a healthy church will build itself around Jesus, not around their preacher, their building, or their programs.

ILLUS: I recently read an interesting study done last year by Lifeway Christian Resources. They did an extensive study of “healthy churches”. Churches that were growing and having an impact for God in their communities.

Lifeway found 12 characteristics that seemed to be true of each of these congregations. I’m not going to list all 12… but these four caught my attention:

1. Healthy churches have a high view of Scripture. Lifeway noted that there’ve been a number of studies over the past forty years point to this trend. Healthy churches have leaders and members who believe the WHOLE Bible. They believe it says what it means and means what it says. They tend to believe in inerrancy – the idea that the Bible has NO errors.

2. In a healthy church, a large number of church members read the Bible daily.

The simplicity of this truth often surprised church leaders. And healthy congregations encourage their people to do this. In Lifeway’s research they found that the practice of reading the Bible every day. was THE principle indicator of a strong healthy faith. That’s why we actively encourage that activity here: we have numerous Bible studies throughout the week. We stress Sunday School and we make available a yearly “read through the Bible in a year” pamphlet for you to use at home.

3. Healthy churches have a priority and focus on the nations. There was a high priority placed on short-term mission trips, giving to missions, and in the number of congregants who commit their lives to reaching the nations with the gospel. We have a team going to Honduras this year, and have had various short term mission trips to Mexico and Honduras in the past. Our Missions Committee is a central ministry in this church and we go to great lengths to make sure they make regular reports to you.

4. The members are intentionally evangelistic. The gospel is central in these healthy churches. As a consequence, the sharing of the good news is natural and consequential. But leaders in these churches do not simply assume that evangelism is taking place. There are constant reminders of the priority of evangelism.

(adapted from an article by Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of “LifeWay Christian Resources”)

So, what does that tell us?

It tells us that if we’re going to be a “healthy” church…

1. We need to believe what the BOOK says about Jesus.

2. THEN, we need to read the BOOK, so we know how to do what Jesus wants us to do.

3. And especially we need to do what Jesus said in this BOOK – in Matthew 28.

Jesus said: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus said it’s His highest priority that WE make disciples for Him.

But, how do WE go about “making disciples” for Jesus?

Well, 1st we need to start with the belief that “making disciples” is what we need to do.

Now, why do I say that WE need to start with that belief?

Because, there are church people who think that “making disciples” is something that SOMEONE ELSE needs to do.

A healthy Christian, takes all the commands of Scripture personally. Especially this command, because this is why Jesus came to begin with. Jesus said He had come “… to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10

If that’s Jesus’ priority… it should be ours as well.

But some Christians have the false conclusion that bringing people to Christ is the preacher’s job. After all we “pay” this man to do this “for” us. Well, frankly that IS PART of my job description…but it is part of yours too.

ILLUS: Tell me, how do we get sheep? Where do sheep come from? What makes sheep?

Answer: Sheep come from sheep.

The more sheep that make sheep, the larger the flock.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

“We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

The Good Shepherd wants His flock to grow.

But if only a few sheep make sheep, our shepherd is going to be disappointed.

There’s a verse to a song I know that goes this way:

“I wonder what kind of church would my church be, if every member were just like me?

How many souls would be saved today, if it all depended upon what I say?

How many prayers would my Lord have to answer, if all that He heard came from me?

I wonder what kind of church would my church be if every member were just like me?”

(to hear this song, you could listen to it on our Facebook page:

ILLUS: Too often Christians think that if they put in a little time at the church building; if they sing a little, and pray a little; if they put in a little in the offering plate; if they drink and eat a little from the Communion plate - that is ALL Jesus wants from them.

Just a LITTLE.

Throughout any given week, they get up, take a shower, and eat some breakfast. They go to work. They get home from work. They eat some dinner. They watch some TV. And then they go back to bed again.

And the next day, it starts all over again.

That’s all they do with their lives.

That’s all they live to do.

Is that really ALL you want to do for Jesus?

Now, I’m not wanting to make anybody feel guilty. I’m just wanting US to understand that each of us is part of the flock. YOU are one of the rest of US sheep. And part of your objective is to make sheep that Jesus wants from YOU and ME… and everybody else.

Now, how do you and I go about making disciples for Christ?

Well, it is a fairly simple process. It’s just a matter of introducing people to Jesus.

For example: When Jesus met the woman at the well… how many husbands had she had? (Five) And she wasn’t even married to the man she was living with at the time. But after she’d met Jesus she went back to her town and told everyone: "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" John 4:29

And the whole town came out to see Jesus!

This woman’s reputation was totally trashed. She was the town tramp. And yet, even she was able to convince people to come and see Jesus. If she can do it… so can you and I.

Now not everybody makes disciples the same way.

But it’s all about one basic principle: bringing people to Jesus.

• For example, we have a bus ministry. When Justin and Joe took it over they weren’t content with just picking kids up for JAM and people up for Sunday morning worship.

They asked me to make up invitation cards for the kids to hand out to their friends to invite them to youth group. They had me make them calling cards with their names and phone numbers made so people could call them and ask for a ride to church. And they asked me to make posters for JAM that they posted all across town.

• Then there are the people who work with Greg (our Children’s minister) on Wednesday Nights. They teach, they do crafts, they run the sound booth, they make refreshments. A lot of those kids didn’t come to church on Sunday mornings. But NOW some of them do.

• Then there’s Jerry – who has been taking classes on counseling people. Jerry made a disciple for Jesus just a few weeks ago. He went to the jail and talked with a man about Christ. When that man got of jail a couple of weeks ago he decided he wanted to go church here. And he also began attending our Saturday Morning Prayer Breakfast. Yesterday that man brought a friend with him to the Breakfast... and that friend is going to be baptized into Christ today.

• This type of outreach can work even in jail. I’m studying with a young man named Curtis that now has a Bible with a commentary in it that our Church has supplied to him. He’s using that Bible to have regular Bible studies with some of the other guys in his jail block.

• Trampas and Tracey are working on making disciples for Christ by inviting people to their home who don’t go to church. They’ve had Bible studies… but they don’t pressure their friends into becoming Christians. What they do is they make Jesus interesting for those friends. And they make no secret about their love for Jesus and of that their desire that their friends become Christians too.

• The Lettuce (based on phrase “Let Us” from Hebrews 10:24) groups have been meeting for several months now. It’s where 4 families get together on 4 separate occasions to eat and talk, and get to know more about each other. And some of those groups are inviting people outside the church to take part.

• And I recently talked with a woman who was so excited about a sermon I preached a couple of Sundays ago, that she had invited at least 4 different people to come to church with her.

And the list could go on and on and on. There are a number of people here who are actively working at “making sheep” for Jesus.

But now, let’s say you feel convicted by this message but you’ve never sensed the right person to talk to or the right time to talk to someone about Jesus or to invite someone to church with you. How can you get started?

Well, let’s start with the basics.

How many of you believe God wants to talk to people about Jesus?

Great! You know God wants you to do it, so why not ask Him for help in finding the right person/time? God HAS promised to help you in situations like this:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Ask and you shall receive!

ILLUS: At the first church I served, I remember driving past a trailer park and I realized I had never met anybody in that park since I’d come to that community. At that moment I offhandedly prayed “God, if You would, I’d like to talk to someone in that trailer park about you.”

And guess what?

That very week, somebody from the park called me and asked me to come talk to them. Was that a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now, let’s say that you talk with someone about Jesus… and they ask how to become a Christian. What would you tell them?

In our present religious world it’s popular to tell people to “ask Jesus into your heart.” But we don’t do that here. Why not? (wait for answer) That’s right – because it’s not in Scripture. We’d prefer to teach people to come to Jesus the way Scripture describes it.

So, let me introduce you to a simple thing called the “5 finger exercise”

• Hold up your index finger – “BELIEVE.”

Repeat that “Believe”. The first thing you need to tell them is that is to believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.

• Hold up two fingers – REPENT. Repeat that with me “Repent”. Repentance is where they accept the fact that they’ve sinned and they don’t live that way anymore. Repentance means to turn away from their past.

• Hold up 3 fingers – CONFESS. They have to confess that they want Jesus to be their Lord. They want Him to own them and be the master of their lives.

• Hold up 4 fingers – BE BAPTIZED. Baptism is where they sign on the dotted line. In baptism they allow their past to be buried in a watery grave and they rise out of that grave (resurrected) a new person

• Hold up all fingers and thumb – LIVE FOR JESUS. They need to commit to building their lives around Jesus. Not just going to church, but living their lives so that others know WHO it is they love.

CLOSE: A former missionary named Milton Cunningham tells of the time he sat next to a young girl with Down’s Syndrome on a flight from Atlanta to Dallas.

As soon as Cunningham settled in for his flight the girl asked, in the purity of her innocence, "Mister, did you brush your teeth this morning?"

A little awkwardly, Milton replied, "Well, yes, I brushed my teeth this morning."

"Good, ’cause that’s what you’re supposed to do," the girl responded.

Her next question was, "Mister, do you smoke?" This one was a little easier on Mil¬ton. When he said no, the little girl answered with approval,

"Good, ’cause smoking will make you die."

The third question was even easier to answer. The young girl asked, "Mister, do you love Jesus?"

Milton answered with confidence, "Well, yes, I do love Jesus."

"Good, ’cause we’re all supposed to love Jesus," she replied.

Just then, another man settled into the seat beside Milton. Im¬mediately, the girl urged Milton to ask the new fellow if he had brushed his teeth that morning. Milton wasn’t about to disturb the stranger, but the girl wouldn’t leave him alone.

Finally, he gave in. He said, "Mister, I don’t mean to bother you, but my friend here wants me to ask you if you brushed your teeth this morning." When the man noticed the girl, he realized that her question was innocent enough, and he answered that yes, he had brushed his teeth that morning.

With a sinking feeling, Milton realized where this was going.

Next the girl urged him to ask the stranger if he smoked. Milton and the man went through the second question.

And sure enough, the girl wanted Milton to ask the third question: Did this man love Jesus?

Milton protested that the question was too personal, that he just wouldn’t be comfortable asking it. Remember, Milton Cun¬ningham was a missionary. But something in him made him uncomfortable about pursuing a spiritual conversation with a fellow passenger. But the young girl persisted, and so Milton said, "Now she wants to know if you love Jesus."

At this, the man’s face darkened. He began to talk about his desire to know God. He was at a point in his life when he was searching for God, for meaning, for purpose in life. But he didn’t know where to turn.

So Milton Cunningham finally took advantage of the oppor¬tunity God gave him through an innocent little girl to explain to the man the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

(Tom Clairbourne, Restoration Herald, March 2012, p. 18)

We have a nice church building. A fairly good preacher. A decent music program. A great youth outreach. But those things mean nothing if we don’t use them to bring people to Jesus. He’s the reason we exist. He is all we have.

INVITATION: Is He all you have? Have you made the decision to belong to Jesus yet? We believe so strongly that you need every opportunity to make that decision that we offer an invitation at the end of every service…