“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” Prov 18:19
Bob stopped me a while back to thank me. A trustee and board member in his church, he explained that he and his wife were greatly offended by a situation and people in the church. He told how one Sunday without knowing their situation, I encouraged them. I told them that “they were very important to the work of God there” and a “wonderful example to me”. I didn’t know they had already decided this was their last service in that church. He told me that had it not been for my encouraging them that day, they never would have gone back.
I wonder how many Bob’s leave the church without anybody noticing.
It is often said, “If we could just win back those who have already left, that would be a great revival. My question is, “how did we ever let them get away in the first place”?
In my years of pastoring and ministry, I’ve found that people usually leave the church because they were never truly assimilated into the family of God to begin with. Once a person is established into the church and have formed nurturing relationships, it’s less likely they would become offended and leave.
We think that we have to “get them into the choir right away” or “find them a position or job in the church” to keep new converts. This may help that person feel more attached, but it will never assimilate them into the church.
Why do people exit the church? Many times, a person leaves because they were never provided the proper relationships within the church. The few relationships they had were not deep or strong enough to keep them when a temptation or offence came.
Several years ago the Lord began showing me Small Groups. Now I didn’t know Small Groups were what He was showing me. In fact I thought something was wrong in my spirit because I was seeing how our current way of having church often fails so many. I saw people leave the church as fast as they came in. I saw the back door of the Church wide open and no one noticing those leaving through it.
Too many new converts seldom have people who come along side them and really “take them in”. In fact soon after they are introduced to God we have the tendency to neglect them as we move on to the next potential new convert.
We’re praying for a “Great Revival”. Do we truly think that a God who is Infinitely Wise will give us children only for us to loose them?
A harvester does more than cut the ear of corn from the stock. That’s where we most often stop. We get introduced to Jesus and often say, well we’ve done our job. Then drop that ear of corn to the ground and run to the next corn stock and grab off another ear. Our job isn’t done with that ear of corn until it is harvested, shucked, and secure in the bin.
Our job is not only to get people filled with His Spirit! We then have to secure them to the family of God. We have to assimilate them into it. We have to help them create close and bonding relationships with others in the church. These people need OIKAS! They need FAMILY! They need RELATIONSHIPS!
In the Small Group Church, a new convert is placed in the care of a small group. This small group meets on a weekly basis in one another’s homes where there is close fellowship, worship, prayer for each person’s needs, and encouragement. They work together to win their friends and family with the support of others in the group. They become very close.
Small Groups can be a major factor in closing the back door of the church. Some churches who in the past were only keeping 25% of their new converts are now keeping 70-75%. How many people would be sitting in your church today if you could have kept 75% of the people who received His Spirit in your church? Probably hundreds in most cases.
We are so thankful that we have a great message. Well what was the early church’s method? Beyond the doctrine, how did they turn their world upside down? How did they reach so many people? History will prove that they did not do it preaching and teaching at the Temple alone. In fact the Gentiles could not even go to the Temple. So where did they meet? Where did they pray together, worship together, encourage one another? They did it in one another’s homes.
I’m not sure the Lord ever wanted them to have the first building to begin with. He was satisfied having His word written on the door posts of their homes and in their hearts. It was David who desired to build God a permanent temple. For what? So people could visit God at God’s house? I believe He would rather to visit us at our own house. In fact he confirmed that by bringing incredible growth to the early church when they met together in their own homes.
The church building serves many necessary purposes including a place for corporate worship on Sunday. But, what about the rest of the week? What if , one of the midweek services came to our homes. The Small Group lifestyle is exciting. It’s fun. It’s an atmosphere that is one of “Brotherly Love”.
In the Small Group church, relationships are built which withstand the offence that would normally cause people to leave. Let’s secure the ones we have. In doing so we could prove to the Lord that we have been faithful with the few that he would give us many.
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” — Acts 2:46-47