Sunday, March 18, 2007

there’s a sheep in our church

Michael won the Opawa Baptist Leadership award today, for an act of outstanding leadership in our community.

It started with a sheep. The Biblical text was Luke 15:1-10, and involved 3 stations themed around lost and found. On Friday I joked to one of the worship leaders that we needed a sheep. “Oh,” he said, “my father is a farmer. Let me check.” Later he left a message. “Sheep will be at church at 9 am on Sunday.”

I arrived, planning for the sheep to be outside. You know, one lost sheep outside the church. Would have worked well. But the sheep was already inside, on stage, installed in a wooden pen, tarpaulin on floor, hay scattered around, sitting quietly. So much work had already been done. Such a quiet sheep. I didn’t have the heart to suggest a move.

All went well until the second song. I think it was the violin, but suddenly the sheep is on his feet on the edge of the pen, staring wildly around the church. The eyes of the gathered children are on stalks. One brave boy inches forward. I shake my head, but the boy doesn’t get my body language. He grabs some hay and tries to feed the sheep. The sheep goes nuts, and jumps clean out of the cage.

Boy jumps backwards and I jump forwards. Afterward someone says they have never seen a pastor move so fast. I grab the sheep and press it against the wooden pen.

I am wearing my Sunday clothes and I have to preach in about 10 minutes. I am wearing a cordless microphone. If I try and get the sheep back into pen, I risk losing the microphone in a flurry of hooves. If I try and take the microphone off, I risk losing the sheep. I am stuck.

I am holding a sheep, in my Sunday clothes, in front of a watching congregation. I am about to go down in history as the pastor responsible for a sheep lose in Opawa church. I am starting to refresh my CV.

Suddenly Michael is beside me. Local teenager from the community. Middle finger bandaged after a rugby game that week. Calmly Michael picks up the sheep. Together Michael and I place the sheep back into the pen. No-one else in the congregation has moved. But young Michael has stepped forward, taken initiative and saved my day.

One of my beliefs is that we are all leaders. This is based on my understanding of leadership as influence. We all influence people, so by definition we are thus all leaders. You don’t need to have a position or a title, to exercise influence. You might exercise influence for good, or for bad. But we all influence others and we are all leaders. Michael earned the Opawa Baptist Leadership award today, for an act of outstanding leadership in our community.

Posted by steve at 10:17 PM


  1. The tears of laughter are running down my cheeks reading this! Never work with children or animals!!!

    Well done Michael. His award is thoroughly deserved and no-one will EVER forget this Sunday!

    Comment by Stewart — March 19, 2007 @ 5:00 am

  2. Well done. All that Lincoln training suddenly flooded back to you?

    One of the best church services I’ve been to had lots of new born lambs in the church for children to feed and look at. I’m sure there was a moral to the exercise but all I can remember is the lambs and the joy on the children’s faces.

    Before Christmas we had sheep, calves, a donkey + a llama cross-dressing as a camel for the drive-thru nativity at church, though all safely outside.

    Maybe Opawa can start some local rodeo with the sheep-wrestling pastor?

    Comment by Stephen Garner — March 19, 2007 @ 10:30 am

  3. …. Like sheep among wolves. I wonder if that’s how this animal felt ? Cool story, one part is an act of initiative, the other is fear of the unknown- from an animals perspective…. Pass the mint sauce !

    Comment by Paul Tangira — March 19, 2007 @ 11:49 am

  4. ha ha ha ha ……

    Comment by Graham Doel — March 20, 2007 @ 12:34 am

  5. Fell about laughing at this description of the sheep incident. I was present when it happened

    I, of course, had no idea of who owned the sheep so assumed wrongly that it belonged to Michael and he was rushing to save it. Was a bit concerned through the rest of the service about whether it was OK (put a good word in about it) so was relieved to see if out of its pen later.

    Comment by Jaybee — March 25, 2007 @ 10:42 am

  6. This puts a whole new spin on praying for lost sheep.


    Comment by steve — March 25, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  7. LOL!! Well that’s one way to ensure your service is memorable!! 😉

    We all like sheep have gone astray
    (baa baa doo baa baa!)

    Comment by Deb — March 30, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

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