12 signs your church may be inwardly focused

June 18, 2019

Most churches have more of an inward focus than an outward one. That’s one reason Thom Rainer and I many years ago wrote the book, Eating the Elephant – to help established churches turn outwardly. Here are some signs that your church might be inwardly focused:

  1. Your church doesn’t baptize many new converts. The causes for this situation could be many, but an inward focus is often at the core.
  2. Your small groups almost refuse to multiply. And, it’s often the small group leader who’s the biggest obstacle. It’s hard to multiply when you want to grow your own crowd.
  3. Division marks your church. The people might gather at the same time, but their hearts aren’t in the same room. Turf protection becomes more important than outreach.
  4. Your congregation battles over increasing budget funds for missions. “That’s a place where we can even cut to keep more here,” I’ve heard some church members say.
  5. Your church is still battling worship wars. Ultimately, we have worship wars because we think worship is about us.
  6. Evangelism training doesn’t happen in your church. Simply calling people to do evangelism isn’t adequate if you’re not going to provide training and accountability. Only telling people to evangelize isn’t necessarily outwardly focused.
  7. You seldom, if ever, send people out. You don’t raise up church planters, and you don’t challenge people to go to the nations. Nor have you in years seen someone called to ministry out of your church.
  8. Your congregation quickly gets frustrated if your pastor isn’t always doing pastoral care. I believe that pastoral care is part of a pastor’s responsibility — so I’m not denying that fact — but some churches are so inwardly focused that they want all of the pastor’s attention.
  9. Few people talk to guests who attend. You might argue that your church is friendly, but it’s possible they’re friendly only to people they know. Many “friendly” churches neglect people whose faces they don’t recognize.
  10. Your church’s leaders can’t accurately describe the general demographic make-up of your community. They may assume they know, but their lack of accurate information suggests they’re not very outwardly-concerned.
  11. Your church is afraid of the world. We’re not to be of the world, but we have to be in the world to reach people. That means that our church must be a place to re-arm to engage the world, not a place to retreat from it.
  12. Few people in your community know about your church. That usually means that your congregation isn’t doing much of significance in the community. They’re missing opportunities to be light in the darkness.

So, how does your church compare?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions.This post first appeared at www.chucklawless.com.


by Chuck Lawless  /  
Vice President for Spiritual Formation  /  Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

25 ways to make your service ‘family friendly’ as you regather

By now, your church has probably regathered in some format, either outside the building in cars or lawn chairs or inside the worship center with modifications for social distancing. Many churches will wait until fall to reopen children’s ministry areas. If your church is...

Top 5 resources for July 2020

Every month, we spotlight five helpful resources for you as you seek to walk closely with the Lord and make disciples. Many of these resources are created by the staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) to help meet the ministry needs of pastors and lay...

Getty, Redman headline virtual worship conference

Some of today’s most renowned and influential worship leaders and artists are coming together for a first-of-its-kind virtual training event designed for anyone involved in worship ministry in the local church. The Resourcing Worship Virtual Conference, scheduled for Aug. 1, 2020,...

Guidance for churches on NC’s face covering mandate

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday, June 24, that face coverings must be worn in public places in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Cooper also announced that North Carolina will remain in the “Safer at Home Phase 2” until Friday, July 17.The Baptist State...

Ongoing concerns over SBC declines

Like many of you, I missed gathering with friends for this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla. As you know, the meeting was canceled in late March due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Canceling this year’s annual meeting was a...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and information by signing up for our N.C. Baptist newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!