I live in a part of the world where there is a Baptist Church just about every 4 or five blocks. More churches than you can shake a stick at, so the saying goes. A few big, some medium sized, but most of them very, very small. Most of them have plateaued or are in decline. A few are growing.
What is the difference?
What makes one church grow and another stagnate? Is it location? Many in this city believe that to be answer so they have up and moved to the wealthy side of town that is growing. I have to ask them: "What about the neighborhood you just left? Don't they need God too?" Does the size of your bank account determine your importance in the church? Does having a six figure income mean that you are more worthy to hear the good news that Jesus died so that we could have a right relationship with God?
OF COURSE NOT!
So again, I ask, what makes some churches grow and others not grow? I think it has to do with a willingness to do the work God calls churches to do. When a church experiences hardship or decline, it is common for that church to start focusing only on themselves. This, however, is completely against God's design for the church. We do not exist for ourselves, but to serve God in this world. The church is to take up the cause of the orphan and widow.
The church is to make disciples.
If a church stops performing these tasks, they have effectively turned off their light. When this happens, people will stop coming. Churches must be outwardly focused, ministry minded, and great commission driven. If they are not, God will not bless them. This is the great challenge for many churches. A challenge many cannot get over. When giving goes down and attendance drops, rather than redoubling and refocusing their efforts to get the message out and minister to people, they start dropping ministry programs and start focusing inwardly.
I ask you. Is your church an innie or an outie? Does it focus on itself and what it needs, or does it focus on what the community needs? Does it focus on making sure its members are comfortable and happy or does it make disciples that are willing to get out of their comfort zones, get their hands dirty and serve as ministers?
It is a simple difference, but it is significant in effect. When a church is more focused on the happiness and comfort of its own members than it is on fulfilling its God given purpose of making disciples, God will remove his blessing from that Church. When that starts to happen, rather than waking up, many churches dig in and the long march to irrelevance begins.
I pray that never happens to my church or to yours. I have seen it. I have lived it in the past and I never want to be there again.