What happens to churches when the main goal becomes to take care of the people inside the walls and it becomes one of the inward focused Churches? Things begin to look more like country clubs than people that come together for Christ to go and make disciples of All Nations.
Western churches tend to have an attitude that nothing can be done for God until people get everything that they need. Members see their walk like “I can’t go and help other people until I am disciples and until I am a master of scriptures or until I get over my church hurt. Until that happens, people sit on my hands.
Does this sound harsh? It does because it’s the opposite of what we are called to be as Christians. Here are the 8 problems we see from churches that become too inward-focused.
1. Forgetting That The Body Will Suffer Like Christ
Romans 8: 18
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. “
1 Peter 5:10
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
We are called to be like Christ as Christians. Christ paid the ultimate price on Christ, and that means we will suffer like him. Churches in the west let go of this idea and often do not call their members to live up to this. Persecution will come, it’s a guarantee. We are to stand firm in our faith and not crumble in the face of challenges.
Our current culture is obsessed with church hurt, and people have allowed it to steal their joy. Church hurt is anything from someone being told someone they did not want to hear to extreme cases of abuse. I am not saying that people are not hurt and don’t ever have reason to be down. The problem lies in the fact that we are not promised a smooth sailing ride.
When we stand firm in the face of suffering, we are sanctified. The devil tries to destroy us with his schemes, but God flips it 22and uses it for good, just like he did with Jesus on the cross.
2. The Great Commission Becomes Conditional With Inward Focused Churches
The Commission tells all Christians to go and make disciples of All Nations. The great commission is the sending of God’s people to get outside of the walls. When you look at most of what churches do, they focus on the inside of the walls.
- Connection groups
- Sunday Gathering
- Prayer meetings
- Eating together
- Kids Ministry
- Youth Group
- Young adult ministry
Don’t get me wrong here; all of these different ministries are great, and they all help to disciple people toward the commandments of Jesus Christ in different ways. The problem is they need to keep their eye on outsiders.
Connection groups should not be mini-church country clubs. They should focus on inviting neighbors and the needy among you that don’t know Christ as well. Sunday gatherings should be the most welcoming places in the city. Prayer meetings should consistently invite people in the community because even non-Christians want to pray even if they don’t understand how it all works and don’t have the Spirit to intercede. Family ministries should keep an eye on how to reach the lost youth with nothing to do.
The list of changes to be outward-focused can go on and on. Going and making disciples of All Nations should be intertwined into everything churches do.
What happens is that the Great Commission becomes conditional, as if you will only do it if everything in life is perfect. Once that happens, then you will go get more. The problem is that life is never perfect. You will always be tired, overworked, and wishing you had better spiritual disciples. The question is, what do you do in the meantime?
To go and make disciples of all nations should be built into the entire body of the church. Otherwise, it just becomes a nice little afterthought that makes churches feel good.
The Great Commission is so important because it’s the final words of Christ sending us before he returns to the right hand of the Father.
Any church that does not listen to the great commission loses its purpose. Part of our Christian walk is to learn everything he has commanded us. We sit in on the teaching of the word on Sunday, and we get raised in different ways, all for the purpose of knowing Christ more. But it does not end there.
This path can easily become an obsession with knowledge. It just becomes about knowing more and more about God and less and less about what he has called us to do and how he has called us to live.
Every Christian knows someone who knows a lot of stuff but does not seem to live it out very well. The Great Commission reminds us why we are doing all of this. We are not just doing it to know more but to help pull more people into the grace of God.
3. Evangelism Becomes The Afterthought Gift at Inward Focused Churches
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Churches need all of these gifts to be at work for the body to be healthy. What tends to be brought to the forefront is the more “me” oriented gifts of shepherding and teaching.
People love those gifts because they get to be filled up, and they get to benefit. What they don’t realize is that the body that just spends all of its time being filled up becomes disconnected from purpose.
Evangelism helps to keep congregations on their toes. Congregations need flesh and blood, new people to the faith that need discipline. They need people coming in, asking the basic questions, and keeping everyone sharp in their knowledge of who God is.
Evangelism ensures that more people are bringing their God-given gifts to build their body. Maybe the worship leader you need is singing at a bar every night, waiting for the Gospel to be shared. Maybe that graphic designer your church needs is sitting in a cubicle every day with one of your members waiting to attach purpose to their life through Jesus Christ.
4. Your Church Makes No Impact On The Community Around It
One of the craziest things about inward focuses is the fact that the church could crumble, and the only people that would know are the country club members.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
When you think about the Kingdom of God laid out in the early chapters of the book of Matthew, you immediately think of a kingdom that stands out from the ones of this world.
Whereas all the other kingdoms of this world get bowled over and fall down, the Kingdom of God is the one that will be everlasting. That everlasting kingdom should light up dark places.
This is especially true for churches in inner cities. If you are to be the light on the hill, it should be attractive to all who are in a dark place. Churches should be the amazing city within a city.
The reality is churches end up being more like walled-off fortresses that no one can get inside. They are exclusive and more concerned with taking care of members. Member care is important, but it’s so that people can have a healthy relationship with Christ and go and be a light in the city.
The city should see these people who love each other and love others so well. They should see people eager to be in the darkest places that no one wants to go.
The light shines brightest in the dark, and we are to be ambassadors for the greatest light this universe has ever seen. The death and resurrection of Christ have the ability to change any heart and draw in any mind.
Christ died for you and extended his grace to you, and adopted you into his family. Your job is not to cut the pathway to him off so no one else can experience the same. Your job is to create a clear way for all who need hope. Don’t be a Christian set on keeping it all about you; instead, look outward and push others to spread the light of Christ.
5. The Body Breakdown Due to a Lack of Service at Inward Focused Churches
In John 13, Jesus responds to the disciples by letting them know how to be great in the kingdom of God. The greatest is not a title, popularity, or anything we typically think of. The greatest is the one who serves.
Churches that become inward-focused are full of members asking, how will you serve me today? Here is the problem with this, the body was made to serve one another. As Christians, the call is to bear one another’s burdens. It does not mean that the pastor takes it all on and everyone else is smooth sailing.
It means every person recognizes that on their own, they are not complete and need to be served. But also those people need to serve other people as well. When churches don’t do this well, the body becomes weaker and weaker. It begins to depend on a few to carry everyone, and it becomes too much for them to burn out.
When a church functions properly, you have people eager to serve in any way. They see themselves as vessels of God and want to use the gifts that God has given them for the glory of God.