When Discontent Sheep Show Up

It can be easy to fall into the snare of entertaining the unrighteous comments of discontent sheep when they come from other congregations.

Faithful local churches want to grow through the redemption of sinners. Through evangelistic efforts and the consistent administration of the ordinary means of grace, there should be a healthy expectation that there will be new believers joining the church periodically. However, the most significant growth in most local churches is Christians transferring their membership from other local churches.

 

Most pastors have heard the complaints of visitors coming from other local churches. It is not uncommon for believers to grow discontent with their circumstances and begin looking elsewhere for a new church family at some point in their Christian lives. In America, it is all too easy to leave one congregation and join a new one a few steps down the road; but, pastors and churches need wisdom to know how to engage discontent sheep.

Faithful local churches want to grow through the redemption of sinners. Through evangelistic efforts and the consistent administration of the ordinary means of grace, there should be a healthy expectation that there will be new believers joining the church periodically. However, the most significant growth in most local churches is Christians transferring their membership from other local churches. Almost 60% of American churches have an average of 75 members, so it’s refreshing and can be exciting to see new faces with new and different gifts. It is not wrong to want to see the church grow, but it should never be without several important considerations.

It can be easy to fall into the snare of entertaining the unrighteous comments of discontent sheep when they come from other congregations. C.S. Lewis brilliantly described the allure of comparison when he explained the true nature of pride in Mere Christianity. Lewis wrote,

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”

A pastor must guard against comparing himself or his church to other pastors or local churches. There can be an unrighteous tendency to prey on those who may not be thinking clearly about their circumstances for want of a new church member. Pastors should always be quick to remember that for every discontent sheep that comes to them from another congregation, there are more than likely sheep in their own congregation that have done the same thing at other times. Proverbs 18:17 provides the helpful reminder that, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Pride is a pernicious evil that can only serve to drive a wedge between churches and their leaders who should instead be encouraging and praying for one another, hoping for each other’s growth and faithfulness in their shared community. The “golden rule” certainly applies in the relationships between churches and their members (Matthew 7:12Luke 6:31).

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