Shepherding Lost Sheep

Shepherding God’s People Series:

  1. Shepherding God’s People – Overview
  2. Shepherding Weak Sheep
  3. Shepherding Sick Sheep
  4. Shepherding Broken Sheep
  5. Shepherding Lost Sheep
  6. Shepherding Scattered Sheep
  7. Shepherding Young Sheep
  8. Shepherding Standing Sheep

(Ezekiel 34:4,16; Zechariah 11:16, Luke 15: 1-7)

Thank you for joining this latest edition of Shepherding God People. First, I did the overview of the seven types of sheep we find in the Bible, then talked about our responsibilities toward weak sheep, sick sheep, and then broken sheep. Today I will talk about what to do with lost or perishing sheep.

Every flock is just one generation away from extinction. It is essential that we reach lost sheep with the gospel. As shepherds, we cannot rely on “transfer growth” (or sheep stealing as many would say) to increase flock size but must be evangelistically seeking lost people who are spiritually dying without Christ. This includes finding new and innovative ways to introduce church life to those who feel “cut off” or have fallen away. These people may feel there are no points of re-entry.

Shepherd’s Responsibility is to Seek the Lost – So, how can you best do that? We must learn how to do a spiritual inventory of our people, then actually learn how to share the gospel with lost people. Back in the day we called this the Evangelism Explosion outline. In the notes below on the church website, I have posted several methods of sharing the gospel with people. Take a look and see if any of it is helpful in your witnessing life.

Here are a few things you can do to minister to your Lost Sheep…

1. Ask about their spiritual background/upbringing. I use the FIRE acrostic…

Family and friends – Family of origin? Upbringing? Siblings? Parents? Best friend growing up? Favorite memory growing up? What was it like to grow up in your neighborhood? Your favorite family vacation?

Interests (like what’s important in their life) – What do you love to do? Hobbies? Sports teams? TV shows you like? What is the most important thing that has ever happened to you?

Religious background – What was your church experience growing up? What is your family’s faith tradition? What denominational affiliation? Are there any spiritual commitments you made back in the day? Have you followed through? Have you fallen away? Why or why not? What happened? Do you ever think about spiritual things today? What is the greatest thing that God has ever done for you? Are you active in a church? If not, what would draw you back to church?

Eternity – Do you think this life is all there is? How did we get here? Is there a grand design in the universe or is this all by chance over time? What do you think happens right after someone dies?

2. Ask them the two diagnostic questions: The first one is…

Have you come to the place in your life where you can say that you know for certain that if you were to die tonight you would go to heaven?

True disciples cannot be ambiguous about their salvation. Don’t settle for “I hope so” or “can anyone really know for sure.” Read to them 1 John 5:13 – These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. John is talking about the Bible being written so we can KNOW we are saved, not wonder about our salvation.

The second diagnostic question is…

Suppose you were to die tonight and stand before God and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say to Him?

We want to get at the heart of what they are trusting to get into heaven. Anything short of trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross is not the authentic saving gospel. It’s not about how they live their life, their morality, or even that they are on the class roll at church or are active in worship attendance at a certain church. The point is, they CAN’T put their trust in the fact that they walked an aisle at the end of a service or was baptized as a child.

3. Present the gospel to them. Here are a few things to cover…

The first topic is GRACE – there is a significant difference between a couple key words in our court system. Justice is getting what you deserve; Mercy is NOT getting what you deserve; but then there’s grace. Grace is all about getting something that you don’t deserve. THAT is what salvation is all about.

  • Romans 6:23b; …but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Ephesians 2:8; For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
  • Titus 2:11; For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,

The next topic involves MANKIND. We try to do good things, like keep some cosmic moral law, but can we really keep God’s law? What is the purpose of the Law? It is likely a no brainer but mankind is sinful and we don’t like to be reminded of that, but the Bible is clear on the subject…

  • Romans 3:23; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • Romans 6:23a; For the wages of sin is death… (Then you might bring up the topic of the Bible, or Old Testament Law)…
  • Romans 7:7; What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
  • Galatians 3:24; Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
  • James 2:10; For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9; For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Titus 3:5; He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

The we talk about our DILEMMA, God is a complex mixture of Love and wrath… on God’s Wrath…

  • John 3:36; He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
  • Romans 1:16; For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
  • Romans 5:9; Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. … (But we cannot leave our God’s Love, because this is God’s plan to save us)…
  • John 3:16; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  • Romans 5:8; But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Here is the greatest news, God has PROVIDED a way for us to be saved, so here, we talk about Jesus – like, who is he, from where did he come, and for what purpose was he born?

  • John 1:1-3,14; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth… (This passage is so lofty, and theology filled, but people need to know about the uniqueness of Jesus).
  • John 14:6; Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5-6; For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-5; For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to… [many]
  • Romans 4:25; He who was delivered over because of our transgressions and was raised because of our justification.

Now talk about the way we actually get saved. It’s not just about what you believe, it’s about having FAITH

  • James 2:19; You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder… So, lead them toward faith, which is a step beyond just believing.
  • John 1:12,13; But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God… (What is the next step of faith? It is actually receiving Jesus into your life. Be assured, that if you can’t think of a time you received Jesus, be assured, he’s not in there! Jesus does not enter your life by accident!) Check out this verse…
  • Romans 10:9-10,13; that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation… All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved… (This is such a simple yet profound declaration of faith in the finished work of Jesus).

4. After all this, then ask them the qualifying question… · Does this make sense to you?

Begin this conversation of clarity. Help them to think through this new information they’ve just received, or perhaps they have been challenged to see Jesus in a new way. Allow them to take some time to think about this important step but remind them that we are never guaranteed one more day.

Remember 2 Corinthians 6:2, “for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”

5. Finally, try to close the deal. Ask the commitment question… If this makes sense to you, would you like to receive this gift of eternal life?

Don’t leave the person hanging. Maybe they’re ready to make a commitment to Jesus but don’t know their next steps. Ask! You have not because you ask not! We are inviting them to do something with the information they just discovered.

6. They might have a few more questions, so clarify their questions of commitment. Here are a few things to talk about…

Repentance of your sin – Mark 1:15; tells us, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

While repentance doesn’t save you, how can we say we are saved without it? Turning from sin and toward God is the essence of following Jesus.
(Luke 5:32; 15:7,10; 24:47, Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Romans 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:9).

Clarify the concept of transferring TRUST – Mark 10:24 NKJV; – And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

It is this trust that defines a believer. Will they trust their former sources of authority or will they trust Jesus, the one who has their back and looks out for them?

Then emphasize RECEIVING Jesus as Lord and Savior – Following Jesus is more than just believing the right stuff about him. The Bible is clear about receiving him…

  • John 1:12; But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
  • Romans 5:17; For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1 – Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then [or received it], and you still stand firm in it.

Finally, if they are ready, lead them in a PRAYER of commitment.

Try something like this: “God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness – the gift of eternal life! Amen!”

You can pray this as they listen, or you can ask them to repeat after you, line for line. But don’t let them think there is some salvation magic by saying these words. God knows your heart and the commitment they are making.

8. Since the enemy is going to come after them, wanting to cause doubt about what they have done with Jesus, share a few verses of assurance

  • John 6:47 – I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.
  • 1 John 5:13; These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

9. After all of this, set-up a time to follow up with them.

Think about it, if we neglect actual children in our society, that’s a crime, so it is so important to follow up and care for our spiritual children. Left to themselves, they will fade away and die. Don’t neglect them. Take responsibility for their lives. Invest into them on a regular basis.

That’s it, the gospel presentation that can lead someone to faith in Jesus. It’s really not that hard. With a little practice, you can build your confidence in sharing the gospel with your lost sheep.

Also, in a few subsequent videos, I have recorded other ways to methods to the gospel using…

Check those out for the method you like the best.

Thanks for joining me today and caring for the lost sheep in your small group!


PS: If you just began your journey with Christ, let me know. Just text the word FAITH to 757-330-4484 to get information and encouragement. 


Credit for the original teaching goes to my mentor, teacher, and friend, Rick Leineweber.

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