by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Revelation 3:1-6
I. I was reading an article by Hiram Kemp titled, “Six Ways to Thrive in a Weak Church”
A. The points were good, but it also had me thinking about the difficulties we face in this region.
1. There are not many faithful churches and most struggle.
2. Some are collapsing and will disappear soon.
3. Some are facing attrition due to aging members
B. It is not new. We look at the seven churches of Asia and realize that strong, vibrant, faithful groups are rare.
1. The best two congregations:
a. Smyrna was impoverished and facing persecution - Revelation 2:9
b. Philadelphia had little power (small?) - Revelation 3:8
2. But we should also note that the congregations with problems were not all bad
a. Thyatira was tolerating false teachers and immorality - Revelation 2:20
(1) But there were some there who opposed it and were not given further burdens - Revelation 2:24-25
b. Sardis was basically dead - Revelation 3:1
(1) But a few there have not soiled their garments - Revelation 3:4
C. You can’t lump everyone in a congregation together
D. You cannot use the congregation as an excuse for our own failures. We still need to abound in the Lord’s work - I Corinthians 15:58
II. What am I to do when things are not ideal?
A. Draw near to God - James 4:8
a. I’ve visited places where the Bible classes didn’t have much Bible
b. Or sermons contain almost no substance
c. But you can still desire God’s word and grow - I Peter 2:1-3
(1) You can still keep from being pulled from the faith - II Peter 3:17-18
(2) You don’t have to walk in the ways the world is going - Ephesians 5:1-7
a. The prayers in the worship may be lacking, but you can offer your own private prayers - Matthew 6:6
a. You can meditate on His word - Psalms 1:2
b. Think on pleasant things - Philippians 4:8-9
B. Teach the Gospel
1. Some feel that inviting someone to a weak church will discourage them, but it is one of the best way to encourage a church to get active.
2. Teaching the gospel and watching those you teach grow is a source of great encouragement - I Thessalonians 1:8-10
3. Teaching is commanded of each of us - Matthew 28:18-20
4. Remember our duty is to try to save as many as possible. Instead of focusing inwardly on a congregation’s problems, focus on teaching the lost around you.
C. Stop Sowing Discord
1. God loves those who stand for the truth - II John 1
2. But He hates those who sow discord - Proverbs 6:16-18
3. When you see problems around you, it is easy to focus on them instead of the solutions - I Peter 4:15
4. Constantly talking about problems only adds fuel to disagreements - Proverbs 26:20-22
5. Love looks to bury problems, not use them create more problems - Proverbs 10:12
D. Be Patient
1. We need to be patient and gentle - II Timothy 2:24-26
a. Preachers are told to teach with longsuffering - II Timothy 4:1-2
b. Yes, it is easier to avoid the struggle, but remember that our job is to contend for the faith - Jude 3-4
2. If a strong church can become weak, then it must also be true that a weak church can become strong
a. There may come a time when it is clear that the group will not listen to the truth, but that should only be decided after patient teaching
3. I’ve known people who leave churches because there are not enough young people for their children. Of course, when they leave, the next family that joins faces the same problem.
III. Remember Who You Serve
A. We are rewarded by Jesus - Colossians 3:23-24
B. Our efforts are not in vain - I Corinthians 15:58
C. We each give an account of ourselves to Christ - Romans 14:10-12
D. Judgment is based on what we do and not what the church we belonged to had done - II Corinthians 5:10-11
E. God won’t forget what you have done - Hebrews 6:9-12