Don’t ever assume size matters to God. In reality, we sometimes trust the size of our buildings, budgets, staff, and membership rather than trusting in the Lord. We might have revival if we got rid of the folks who are carnal and care only to be entertained. I would say emphatically, when and if we have persecution in this land, a lot of churches are going to report a reduction in membership.
Why did God tell Gideon to cut down his numbers? The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me’” (Judges 7:2). In other words, if Gideon had won the battle with a large army, he would have taken the credit and the glory and stolen it from the Lord God of Israel.
The battle was then, and is now, the Lord’s. We can’t fight the battle against the culture, depravity, or carnality in our flesh. We have to fight by the Lord’s power. The old saying is true, “One plus God is a majority.” The question is: “Where’s the one?”
As the church, we are in a battle. We aren’t fighting against flesh and blood. These are what we see on the surface. But it’s what’s behind it that we are fighting. The powers that control the darkness. This fight is in the spiritual realm. The reason churches are declining and dying and communities are decaying is simple: We don’t have a clue about the battle. We think we’re in a parade on our way to glory. In reality, we are in a battle. Yes, the victory has already been won and the outcome has been determined, but we are to remain vigilant.
The battle is not political, social, or philosophical. It is spiritual. Therefore, the size of the church or community doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are in the fight. That we have our armor on and are engaged.
Unfortunately, most people on a church roll (notice I don’t call them Christians) are totally clueless, unprepared, untrained, and unequipped for this warfare. The problem with many churches today, especially larger ones, is we as pastors can begin to think of ourselves as CEOs rather than shepherds. We lead this way and then our members begin to think of the church as just another big business run with a quick nod toward religion.
It’s a deadly and dangerous assumption to assume you can have a church with no prayer meeting, and have thousands in worship, a big budget, and win the battle. That’s no different than David fighting Goliath in Saul’s armor.
Vance Havner said, “Most of our army has to be conscripted and may desert at the slightest provocation. The victory God is out to win is not won by a mob but by a miracle, and we are not operating on a miraculous basis these days. . . . We have mob-ilized instead of mobilized. We do not need a host outfitted from the arsenals of earth, but a handful armed on Paul’s pattern in Ephesians. We cannot gain heavenly victory with a worldly army.”
God sent most of Gideon’s army home. They weren’t willing to stand up and be counted. Today the church is ill-equipped to fight a sustained battle. It’s not that we are battle weary. We like R&R too much. The church is increasingly filled with jellyfish and cowards on social and moral issues. We back down to the culture and let the world around us decay.
With Gideon, God sent another wave home because they weren’t alert. They weren’t paying attention to their surroundings. They were self-centered, just wanting water. Doesn’t that describe the average church today? Self-centered. What’s in it for me?
Gideon got down to 300 who were committed to take the battle to the enemy. They weren’t cowards, and they weren’t careless. They were committed. The battle we are in calls for a new Gideon’s army.
This battle is the Lord’s. He’s not impressed with numbers. He’s looking for a certain kind of warrior. One with grit, determination, and at the same time desperate dependence on the Lord. Gideon’s army had to know, “If God’s not with us, we are dead.” Is it any different today?
We need spiritual Navy Seals. We need Christ-centered commandos—people who will pray, serve, and work knowing there is no substitute for victory. As the old preacher said of a captain who shouted to his men, “Men, we are surrounded…don’t let one of them escape.”
Yes, we are surrounded. The enemy is attacking on every side. The world, the flesh, and the devil are engaged in a full-out frontal assault. But we should not be dismayed. The last chapter has already been written. In the last two chapters of the Bible, there is no devil. His doom is sealed. We need to stop looking at our churches like people holding the fort and praying for Jesus to return. We need to storm the gates of hell.
So let’s go back to where we started. You may be in a little place. You may have a handful of members. You may feel like there’s no hope. LIFT UP YOUR EYES! Join in the battle with the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. Get out of the pew and into the fray. At least live and die believing God for a breakthrough. Don’t find yourself facing the King of Kings one day and being called a quitter.