In John 10 Jesus says he knows his sheep by name. That word know doesn’t just mean that he can name all of them; Flossy, Larry, Curly, Tails and so on. It means he knows them each individually and intimately. He knows their individual quirks and needs and ways of responding.
That’s a huge challenge for this of us in ministry in the church whether we’re involved in paid ministry, youth or children’s ministry, or just the everyday ministry of the pew – chatting to and encouraging, weeping with and building up others. Do we know those we are put into a church family with. Did we know their unique challenges and ways of responding?
It’s perhaps the thing I’ve found hardest during this whole pandemic. I used to love our prayer breakfasts, Wednesday meals and having people in and out of the home. It was in that setting that I really got to know our church family – to see them, to see whether they were joyful or tired, weary or wondering, angry or anxious. It wasn’t just in the conversations but in simply living life alongside of. It has been hard to miss that.
Naturally as we were shut away there has been a loss of knowing where people are and how they are doing. Whilst it has been possible to do some of that 1-2-1 on walks and so on and as thing shave opened up a little bit more I can’t wait for all the restrictions to be removed so that we can get to know where the sheep are again. But my hunch is its going to take a while, we have got used to being just us, it is going to take time and effort to open up and to get to know one another again. But it is absolutely vital that we do.