This story is true—only the names and places have been withheld to protect the guilty! A congregation moved into a new building with gleeful delight and some degree of pride over the elegant surroundings in which they would worship. Someone supplied two beautiful five-foot plants to adorn the front of the new auditorium.
Some months following the opening service in the new building, to the dismay of the elders and building committee, the plants disappeared. Said elders and said committee sounded the alarm. The congregation was bombarded with announcements. Men were deputized to seek the where about of that which was lost. Apologies were made to the donors of the decorative plants. For two months the missing potted plants became the conversation piece of the church at worship and at home. The search was intensified and the announcements and pleadings seemed unending.
The quest ended quite abruptly when the local preacher dared to solve the problem. It took nerve to do it! Since the potted plants had not been found and obviously were not going to be, he arose following a long announcement about the lost decorations and said, “We have heard a great deal about the missing plants that were lost. For two months, at every service, announcements have been made and people have earnestly looked to that which is lost. For years we have known that sheep have strayed from the flock. Prodigal sons are away form the worship and the Bible declares that they are lost. Each soul missing here today is more valuable than the whole world—and yet we have not heard one announcement nor have we seen anxious concern about Mary Smith, John Brown, or Sam Jones whose eternal welfare may hang on our concern. If we had put forward one-tenth the energy in locating the lost souls of this flock that we have the lost potted plants, surely the angels in heaven would rejoice!”