ChuckWarnock.com

Confessions of a Small Church Pastor

The sheep are coming


sheep_racingLast Sunday we received two new members — a wonderful young couple who moved to our community to restore an old family home out in our county.  One of the discouraging aspects of small church ministry is a lack of new members, so we were glad to have Amy and Richard join with us.  But, let me tell you a story that God used to encourage me about new members two years’ ago. 

Debbie and I were praying one morning after discussing how discouraged we were because we were reaching so few new people.  

Now this is where the story gets weird. I want you to know that I think this part is weird, so you will realize that this doesn’t happen to me all the time. In our praying about what we should do, Debbie kept telling me to be patient that the “sheep were coming.” It didn’t look like the sheep were coming to me, but she assured me they were.

One night not long after that, I had a dream. I saw the letters S-A-U-B-R-I-G in big block letters, like they had been printed on a large sheet of paper. That was it — “saubrig.”  When I woke up, I wrote the letters down because I felt there was some significance to them. But what?

So I did what anybody does now — I turned on my computer and googled, S-A-U-B-R-I-G. What I got back were a bunch of references in some foreign language that I did not recognize. But one entry was in English. It was an article about ancient Yorkshire surnames and place names. Not exciting reading, but as I scrolled down through the article, there it was — the word saubrig. Only it was two words — sau brig.  

Let me read you the article at this point –

Sau (pronounced sow) in Scandinavian is sheep. Brig is a dock, or trading post area. Perhaps it [sau brig] was an old way of describing a ‘sheeptown’s dock’ or, gathering point – the Saubrig…

Isn’t that amazing? And that settled it for me. I knew that in spite of my mistakes that God was still at work.  This is the sheeptown’s dock, the gathering point. I believe the sheep are coming. I believe they are coming here to this place, to this town, to this church, to our community, to this congregation.

I included this story in a sermon I preached last year, and the story seemed to encourage some of our members, too.  Right now, we have about a dozen new members pending.  That’s huge for us and I do believe the sheep are coming. They don’t come in our timing, only God’s.  So if you’re discouraged that you’re not reaching people fast enough, be patient.  The sheep are coming, you just don’t know them yet.

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Categories: Congregation, outreach

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6 replies

  1. Wow! That’s amazing Chuck. God spoke to you prophetically. He told you what was to come to encourage you and Debbie and edify your tired hearts. That’s how much he loves you guys. I’m proud of you. I think its just the beginning… the trickle before the flood. Get your infrastructure and leadership prepared… if you build your people, they will come. Grace and Peace my friend, Jimmy

  2. That’s awesome! I love when the Lord confirms His word. Sau brig! Something else from you that I’ve loved.

    Quick question: it sound like you have a process for accepting new members. What is it? I’ve tried various methods but each seemed to scare people away. In the last month I’ve had about 6 people approach me about becoming members saying they wanted to commit to the work of the congregation. Since the past “formal” methods seemed to have an opposite affect, I did away with it then and there.

    I was wondering what you guys do.

    Praying you and and yours, brother.

    - john

  3. That’s so cool! Thanks for always having encouraging posts.

    I look forward to hearing of more sheep.

  4. Chuck.

    No none, but no one, could appreciate your story like I do. We experienced the same feelings of frustration at lack of new members in our little church and the elation and validation that new attenders brought.

    BTW: Have you ever thought about changing the name of your blog to Confessions of A Growing Church Pastor?

    Phil Winn
    Outreach Pastor
    Living Word Christian Center

  5. Amen, I’ll take it! And I love how God works. I have such a burden for seeing lives changed with His truth (and sadly, this hasn’t always been the case for a variety of reasons). Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Thanks for your comments! Jimmy, I had not thought of the prophetic thing. I don’t have these experiences often (hardly ever) but I did believe it to be an encouragement from God.

    John and Cush, thanks for your comments and for stopping by. John, our process for new members is pretty simple. Mostly it’s a one-on-one conversation. We really don’t have a steady stream of folks to do a class. Most of the new members are coming from the Sunday School group Debbie and I have started, so by the time they join they know at least the people in our class.

    Phil and Jason, thanks for your comments and I appreciate your stopping by.

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