On July 22, 2012, David Goeser went missing. He was a 22-year-old UCLA student. His car was found in Pacific Palsades, near Los Angeles. Within 48 hours search efforts included the entire western coast.
David’s dad, Mark Goeser, said in the midst of the search, “One of the things that I’ve observed since my son has been lost is how these groups that search for the lost (like Search and Rescue teams) have nothing in common except for the commitment to the mission: to find the lost. Without that mission they’d never be drawn together. Yet with this mission to find the lost they have a deep sense of community. They all share a common experience of tremendous loss — or the joy of finding someone! And yet it seems that in many churches today, if you took away their mission to find the lost, they would keep on meeting together for the sake of community.”
The effort to find Mark’s son had brought together hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people. That is the power of a mission. Unfortunately the team’s efforts did not end the way they had hoped. Two months later, on September 22, David’s body was found.
When you read the rebuke of the leaders of Israel in Ezekiel 34, the rebuke was not because they failed to foster community. Ezekiel 34:6 says, “My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.” The leaders were called to task for failing to seek the lost, in the way a shepherd would his sheep.
Jesus said his mission was search and rescue. He said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus had a mission and formed a community around that mission.
With a mission to seek the lost, a deep sense of community will be found. With a mission to seek community, a commitment to seek the lost is rarely found.