Hindrances to the Growth of the Church
The students will be able to explain some of the major hindrances to the qualitative and quantitative growth of the church.
Introduction - When a child is not growing we look for causes. The child may not be growing because he is not eating the right foods. The child may not be exercising correctly. Perhaps, the young one is not getting the proper nutrients to his body. If the situation becomes so critical as to threaten the child’s existence, we consult a doctor. Yet, when our churches do not grow, many of us just assume that must be the way things are and who can change it? When Jesus walked the earth, he turned to the fig tree and cursed it because it gave no fruit.
Our Lord is interested in seeing growth, fruit, and productivity from those to who He has given His Spirit. Jesus said, ``I will gladly give you kingdom!’’
I. Causes for the Lack of Growth in Churches
A. The Pastor did not know the will of God for his church, consequently the Pastor set no goals for growth. Acts 2:41-47 contains 12 criteria for a growing and multiplying church. Everyone needs to bridge the gap between their own realities and the ideals found in this passage.
B. A denomination only concerned itself with maintaining the members they had rather than seek for new converts. Jesus said, Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into His harvest fields. (Matt 9:36-38) Be more harvest oriented than maintenance conscious.
C. Tribalism prevented the church from reaching out to other peoples besides members of their own tribe. Many churches are more interested in maintaining their cliques than bridging out to new people.
D. The Pastor or elders were constantly fighting over trivial issues neglecting the preaching of the word of God and obeying it. Focus on seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness instead of worrying about arguing about non-essentials.
E. People were not taught about God’s will to plant churches or church growth. Paul said, "I planted and Apollos watered but God caused the growth." (I Cor. 3:5,6)
F. People were apathetic toward outreach to the lost.
G. Muslims, government officials, and community leaders hindered the growth of the church.
H. People in the church began to fight with one another over personal issues neglecting Christ’s commission to make disciples found in Matthew 28:19,20.
I. Failure to obtain new plots of land hinders the growth of the church along with failure to develop the land once it is obtained.
J. Failure to teach the people how to give toward missions.
K. People’s apathetic attitudes toward missions.
L. The Pastor’s inability to speak to the needs of his people, patronizing them and treating them as children rather than responsible adults who have gifts, abilities, and responsibilities in the church.
M. The Pastor’s poor preparation of sermons.
N. Elders who are more interested in non-essential topics rather than the winning of the lost, planting churches, and church growth.
O. Cultural compromises with traditions.
P. Sinful living by the leaders and the people which prevent God from blessing the church.
Q. Wrong priorities emphasizing less important topics over outreach and church planting.
R. Poor recording keeping and accounting of the growth of the church attendance.
S. Equating service in the church with doing the whole will of God. Truly the Lord wants us to serve Him, but He told us to ``Go into all the world and preach the gospel.’’ Many times we are talking to ourselves in the church while the people in the world are headed for hell without Christ.
T. Viewing the church as a social club rather than as the body of Christ in a sinful and perverse generation among whom we are to shine as lights to the world.
U. People’s inability or unwillingness to understand, read, study, memorize, and meditate on the scriptures in their families.
V. The love of money becomes the root of all sorts of evil, distractions, and perversion of the purposes of God.
W. Failure to trust God for church growth, church planting, and outreach for the fear of losing members, money, influence, power, prestige, and control in the community.
X. Distrust of younger people who have the zeal to begin new churches.
Y. The wrong notion that all growth comes from God so that we can do nothing to make the church grow it is left up to the Lord entirely.
Z. Failure to exhibit the qualities of love as indicated in I Cor. 13:4-7
``Love is kind, patient, not proud, not envious, not boastful, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’’