Losing Focus in a Small Church and What to Do About It

Everyone can lose his or her focus, given enough time. Churches are no different. Within one generation a church can move from a vibrant soul-saving beacon of light, to a dim ember that is about to go out. I’ve seen it. I’ve pastored in those churches. But in Jesus Christ there is always hope. Just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb so that he could live to proclaim his Savior’s praise, so too Jesus desires to call dead and dying churches back to life for His glory.

Although many more Bible churches need to be planted, there are an abundance of churches that already exist, that have lost their focus and have become inwardly focused and outwardly stagnant. Imagine if 100 dying churches once again became alive in their communities what an impact we could make!

If you find your church in this situation, don’t leave. Don’t jump ship. Instead, ask yourself these questions to begin to determine how you can begin to turn around your church:

  • Are we seeking to fulfill the Great Commission or are we merely in a maintenance mode?
  • Are we making excuses for ourselves (the area has changed; the church down the road keeps stealing our members), or are we dealing honestly with our own sins and faults?
  • Are we seeking programs and gimmicks to be our savior instead of seeking the will of the One who walks among our churches (Eph 2:1)?
  • Are we looking back to the “glory days” of the past instead of looking forward to the glory days that God has in store for our future?

May the Lord guide our churches that have lost their way into becoming vibrant, soul-saving beacons once again so that the glory of God may shine bright.

A Biblical Church Growth Model

Over the past thirty to forty years, there has been incredible obsession with church growth strategies and methods that churches have never experienced before. There are more books written on how to grow a church using the latest Madison Avenue marketing programs than ever. Pastors and church-planters have particularly been the primary consumers that have bought and brought these things into churches, and we are now reaping what churches have sown.

Churches are now more concerned about being cool and culturally-adapting than being a church that is matured and culturally-confronting and transforming. Churches are now more concerned about how many show-up on Sunday morning than how many are genuinely saved and being discipled. Churches are now more concerned about how to make people (especially, the unregenerate ones) to like us than whether God is really pleased with us. Churches are now more concerned about how to make Christianity to sound acceptable and inclusive than really understanding what exactly the message of Christianity is. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface here.

Having said all that, I do not want us to head toward other extreme, namely, ignoring and not caring about the subject of genuine church growth. The subject of church growth should not be belittled or ignored. Every Christian who loves Christ should love his church and be concerned about her genuine health and growth. But the question is – from whose perspective should we look at church growth? God’s or man’s?

Unlike the present day church growth methods and models, God’s method and model that is found in Scripture, especially, in Acts 5:12-42 is so radically different. Unfortunately, the message that is found in this text falls on deaf ears of many. Tonight I preached on that text and the message entitled “A Biblical Church Growth Model.”

Looking at this text in light of what happened in previous narrative cause me to raise some observations and questions. Here we have a picture of the world that is watching as a church is making a transition from the aftermath of the death of Ananias and Sapphira. Can you think what the congregation may have gone through with such shocking incident? How would you feel when a congregation starts to experience people staying away from the church? How do you think the apostles have felt as the leadership of this church? How do you renew the church’s morale with the loss of their own members who were divinely disciplined out of the church? How do you assure a congregation that God still loves them when God just demonstrated his judgment? These are some of the questions that I was pondering.

Without a doubt God’s way of growing his church is radically transcendent than the Madison Avenue approach. And I wanted to help our congregation to see what I mean from our text tonight. With that in mind, I’ve pointed out five means of a church growth:

  1. A church growth as a result of church discipline (vv. 12-14).
  2. A church growth as a result of verifiable realities and testimonies (vv. 12-16).
  3. A church growth as a result of continual proclamation of God’s message (vv. 17-21a).
  4. A church growth as a result of persecution (v. 17f).
  5. A church growth as a result of perseverance (vv. 27-32, 41-42).

If you want to hear how these points flesh out you can listen here.