Okay, I have been turning this over in my mind for quite sometime.
I would love your feedback on this. The issue is what pastors call "sheep stealing." I have never understood the term or found it to be biblical. Recently, I had this accusation against me. I don't understand it because a pastor does not "own" someone and it is illegal to steal a person; I think that is called kidnapping.
So, here are my thoughts.
Biblically: As long as someone was in a household of faith that believed the major beliefs of Christianity, it did not matter. The only time Paul was concerned was if they were leaving the faith.
Ecclesiately: If one of my congregants feels led by God to go somewhere else, I honor that. We are the Church as a body.
Personally: If someone feels like it is time to move on or they are getting fed and connected somewhere else then no amount of convincing or manipulating is going to change that. I can't take it personally. I am not a super pastor. I have people who have left, who will leave and those who will come.
I had a gentleman talk to me the other day about his church and his desire to leave. My counsel was this, "I am going to give you the same instructions that I want someone to give a person in our congregation. First, seek God and hear from Him. Secondly, go to your pastor, face to face, and be real with these feelings. Thirdly, seek outside counsel before making decisions."
Finally, you love people unconditionally and encourage their faithfulness where they are planted. From that point they have to make their own decisions.
When you are starting a movement, you will attract people who are fans and those who are critical. Don't set out to prove critics wrong, rather continue on the mission and let the results of your vision speak for you.
So, is sheep stealing Biblical?