3 Factors Your Church Needs To Thrive! Part four
By Greg Perkins, SMDHealthy.Church
Failure To Thrive (FTT) is a condition where growth has been decelerated, arrested, or considered to be abnormal (in) growth or development. FTT is most often used to describe children who have failed to show the signs of growth and development in critical areas of health, but also accurately describes a church that is experiencing plateau or decline. In previous blogs of this series, we have explored the need for Committed Leadership and Biblical Behavior within the church. In this week’s blog, we will focus on the final factor your church needs to thrive…
Factor 3: Outward Focus.
Church revitalization specialist and author, Ed Stetzer, said this about the importance of an outward focus, “One of the things you will find in churches that are growing disciples and growing numerically is an emphasis on outward focus. It is so integral that outward focus should be a part of revitalizing a church.”
In the first chapter of Acts, we find Christ’s final instructions to his followers before ascending into heaven. He told them to wait in Jerusalem to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit, but also told them what would and should happen as a result. What would happen was they would receive POWER after the Holy Spirit came upon them. What should happen was they would be WITNESSES of Him “in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Christ’s words were meant to confirm what He had told them in the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel (promise of the Holy Spirit), but, also, to give them the strategy they needed to accomplish the Great Commission they had just received. Basically, He told them to start where they were, but not to stay where they were! I believe Jesus was trying to establish an outward pattern of ministry for the church that would propel their message to those who needed to hear it. This is essential because the Church has been called to reach “all the world,” not just those on our front porch or in our backyard.
But, let’s be clear, they did not ignore the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ (or anyone else). The Scripture indicates that they gave to anyone that had need and spent time together. Looking after one another is part of our responsibility as the Body of Christ, but we must remember that it is not our sole responsibility. Jesus said that people would know we are His disciples by our love for each other. In other words, our love and care for each other should equip and enable us to reach those outside the church. When the people in our community know that we love them in the same way as we love each other, they will be receptive to the message of hope we bring. In their book, The Externally Focused Church, Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson said, “The success of an externally focused church depends on getting involved in the community, creating authentic relationships, and being truly useful.” They went on to say, “In the process of SHOWING, externally focused churches have discovered, again and again, that people are more willing to listen to their TELLING.”
A pond that only collects water, but has no means to release it will stagnate and cease to be useful. The same is true with the church. If we hold on to the ministry we receive and fail to share it with those outside our walls, we too will stagnate and cease to be useful.
I’ve heard dozens of church leaders make this declaration, “The local church is the hope of the world.” While I believe that statement to be true, I would offer just two clarifying words – “The OUTWARD FOCUSED local church is the hope of the world.”
To read previously posted blogs in this series, or on other topics, go to SMDHealth.Church and click the BLOG tab on the home page.
Church Development Director