An Ownership Problem in Our Sunday School Work

Friday 2nd November, 2007

Jesus said, The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep (John 10:12-13, NIV).

I fully understand that God is in charge. I understand that the sheep belong to Him. Jesus bought and paid for them in full on the cross. He redeemed them. He is the Master-Owner of the sheep. And when we ask Him to be our Savior and Master, He makes us into shepherd-stewards, responsible for caring for His sheep.

But I believe there is an ownership problem in our Sunday School work. Or should I say, "lack of ownership?" There are many who assume someone else will do the work. They assume someone else will care for the sheep. They "don't have time." They "don't know how." It's not "their job." And all the while Satan is attacking and scattering the flock.

Wait a minute! To whom did Jesus give His Great Commission? He gave it to His disciples, to the Church. Well, who are we? Are we His disciples? Are we His Church? The task does not only belong to pastors, staff, deacons, and teachers. We are all His hands and feet in this world. He has called us all to care for the sheep, and not all of them are in the sheep pen (John 10:16). The world is a rough place for sheep who are alone, without a shepherd and more importantly without a Shepherd!

I believe part of the problem stems from the idea that it is everybody's job. When the job belongs to everybody, nobody does it. Assignments are necessary in order for the ministry to be accomplished. For instance, ministry and outreach contacts are best carried out through some kind of regular assignment process or organizational structure, such as care groups, etc. But far too few of our classes are organized. No one is taking charge. Someone has to make the assignment and hold the outreacher accountable to complete the contact.

On the other hand, it seems that we have an aversion to accountability. And yet without positive accountability, much less will be accomplished for God. I believe even Jesus recognized our need for this when he said in John, "Encourage one another." Those in 5K races as well as those in life and ministry perform better with encouragement. But since no one is in charge, encouragement is infrequently offered if at all.  How much less are we accomplishing for God because no one is cheering us on?

Why are we so afraid of assigning responsibility? Why are we so hesitant to volunteer? Are we lazy? This may be part of the answer, but it is not all.  Do some think they can do it better than anyone else? This may be true in the short term, but it is not even close in the long run.  Are we afraid to give up authority? Are we afraid busy people will tell us "no"?

In the meantime, we are crippling the Sunday School. People are not reached. Lives are not changed.  Leaders are not developed. The "few" get burned out. Ministry does not get done. How can we help our classes to make sure someone is in charge?  How can we do a better job of equipping the saints for works of service?  Let's charge the hill! Let's own the responsibility. Lets do care for the sheep! Be revolutionary!

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