“Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.”
One of the problems that God had with the pastors in Israel was that they did not visit those who were scattered. In fact, God said that the pastors were the ones who had scattered His flock and driven them away. How did they scatter the flock? They scattered them by not visiting them. You will notice that God did not say that these pastors were not feeding His flock. In fact, God addressed them by saying, “pastors that feed my people.” What God was concerned with was that they were not visiting those who were scattered, and their lack of visiting the flock is what led to them being driven away. They were driven away because those who were scattered did not feel that they were loved enough to be sought after, even though their lack of attendance was wrong.
It is vital that every believer be involved in visiting those who are scattered. Those who know me know that I believe in soul winning, but I also believe in visiting those who are scattered. People know they are loved when someone comes to visit them when they miss church. Sometimes it is the visit of the pastor, Sunday school teacher, or a member of the church that brings someone back to stay. Let me share several thoughts about the importance of visiting.
First, visiting does not take the place of soul winning. Soul winning is Christ’s commission to the church, but visiting is important so we can keep young believers faithful to church. You are not fulfilling the command to reach the lost if you are only visiting those who are absent.
Second, soul winning alone will not retain those who need to be visited. Just like visiting does not take the place of soul winning, soul winning does not take the place of visiting. Both are critical to reaching the lost and retaining them until they are strong and active member of the church body.
Third, my rule for visiting people is, visit plus two. What I mean by this statement is that when I visit someone, I always knock on two doors around that visit to try and reach someone for Christ. I have led more people by visiting an absentee than I have in any other form of soul winning. When I am visiting, I look for people who are outside to talk to them about Christ, and more often than not, I see someone that God has outside for me to talk to about the Gospel.
Fourth, never let two weeks of absence go by without visiting those who are absent. People will not miss a third week if they don’t miss the second week; therefore, you must visit people who are absent on the first week they miss. Your goal in visiting people should be to keep them from getting into the habit of missing church. One reason we need everyone to be involved is so that everyone who misses is visited. The larger the church, the more people who need to be involved in visiting the absentees.
Fifth, ask God who needs your visit. You should regularly ask God if there is someone who is attending that needs you to visit them. You will be surprised how God lays someone on your heart to visit, and when you visit them, they relay to you that they are going through a tough time. Visiting is important; don’t miss the importance that God places on visiting people who are scattered for whatever reason.