My son Neal is without a doubt the most amazing little man that has ever stepped foot on this planet… ok, I might be a little bias, but from the first day I met him to this very day, I have been so amazed by the amazing kid God has crafted him to be. He is full of life, passionate, spontaneous and incredibly compassionate. He is thoughtful (most of the time), caring and full of wild ideas. There are days where I’m pretty sure he could convince himself and possibly a few others that he has what it takes to jump to the moon. I have never met another person in my life with more freedom to simply be himself. Sure, he has insecurity, of course, like any other 9 year old, he is beginning to understand what it means to live in a world where value is placed on every human based on their ability to perform to a cultural expectation that was created from a position of insecurity in the first place. Big picture…
Neal knows how to live…
Along with the unbelievable freedom he tends to live his life with comes one very significant disfunction. Neal has a hard time focusing… call it whatever you want, ADD, ADHD, Hyperactivity, or just being an emotional Brower boy, cut out of a similar mold his father was made in, Neal struggles to keep his eye on the ball.
He knows what he wants, in the moment he wants it, but what he wants seems to change like the wind, and it never remains long enough for him to figure out how to get it. He jumps from one idea to the next, day by day, even moment by moment, as fast as his free thinking brain and wild imagination will take him.
Neal lacks focus.
As much as I love all the smaller attributes of his personality that make Neal who he is, I fear at times that a lack of focus will ultimately keep him from being really effective at anything. If he could focus all his wild energy and passion on one thing, I can only imagine where his zeal and passion might take him.
Neal is a great illustration of the “church,” in America.
With the purest of motives and the best of intentions churches hit the ground running with ideas of changing lives and changing the world. We build buildings, hire staff, organize services and create the perfect programs. We do it all in the name of Jesus, believing, at least at one point or another that we are doing it from a place of conviction and intentionality. Then come the people.
People make everything more complicated don’t they? All of us, from the pastors, to the committed members, to the guy who shows up once a month just so he can check the preverbal church box on the score card of life, and slip out before anyone notices him.
We are all difficult! We are all selfish! We are all given to emotions that would put our own agenda over the agenda of Jesus in the establishment and multiplication of His church.
So here we are, with big rooms full of selfish people, attempting to continue in the legacy of Jesus… the result? Yeah. its going to be a mess… no matter how you slice it, its gonna be as ugly as the NFL with referees who have more experience selling hot dogs at the concession stand than throwing yellow flags on the football field.
The result of selfish people gathering together more intent on their own personal agenda than what the gathering ultimately exists for is simple…
Hurt, chaos, broken relationships, arguments, disagreements, apathy, discontentment, jealousy, pride, greed, immorality, deception, manipulation, mistrust, etc. etc. etc.
Pick one of those, or fill in a blank with your own. If you have been a church goer for any significant amount of time you have more than likely experienced one or more of the above. The funny thing is, we, in our limited understanding of people in the world, brought on by narcism, have some how convinced ourselves that if we just continue to do, “church as usual,” people will simply sign up.
We are wrong.
So what is the answer?
I think it is simpler than we make it… I think it boils down to one thing.
The church in America has ADHD.
We have lost the ability to focus, coupled with an addiction to hyperactivity, resulting in an organization that lacks all understanding of why it exists, and what it desires to see accomplished. We prioritize busyness over impact. Our lack of focus allows the mission of the church to be interpreted individually and randomly by any and all who choose to engage with the discussion. Instead of being a missional movement, unified by our calling, around the person of Jesus and gospel message, we have become a, “whatever you want it to be so that you feel good, happy and well taken care of,” type organization. We build programs around that mantra, to suit any and all who speak up. There is a different program for every niche need, or area interest. We run around like chickens without a head, staying really busy, greasing all the squeaky wheels, and ultimately loose sight of why we are doing it all to begin with.
Sound familiar? Tired of it?
Me too, but finding our way out of the darkness of consumerism and disunity, and into the light where God can empower us with the Holy Spirit, creating a movement that can change the world requires us to make a decision. It requires us to set our agenda, understanding and even church history aside for something bigger. Its time we stop thinking about us, and start thinking about others. Its time we stop pursuing comfort and choose impact instead.
The true church, the focused church, the gospel-centered movement Jesus died to establish is found only when we choose to set self aside, take up our cross and choose to walk in the footsteps of our creator.
It requires focus.
Focus is a core value at FInding Life Church. It is the core value I am preaching on this Sunday in our current series titled, “The power of a values driven life.” Here is the statement we make about this value…
Focus: “What matters most is people finding Jesus, we will be intentional about it.”
This is what the church exists for. This is what the church was called to in the wake of Jesus’ death. This what its all about, and everything else comes second.
Church is not about… being fed, having a powerful experience, great music, Bible education, developing a social club, or even social justice. Its not about having opportunity for my gifts to be used, or being given a platform for my personal passions. It is about one thing…
People connecting with the grace of God, being freed from the clutches of sin and death, and walking an empowered, purposeful, kingdom engaged life for the sake of others experiencing the same thing along the way.
If you get up this Sunday morning with anything else as your focus, you will miss the point of why we gather in the first place.
All those above pursuits are not wrong in and of themselves, they are simply not the most important thing. They are all the natural outcome of a life focused on what matters most.
I will ask you this.
Will an all out pursuit of Bible education always lead to a heart for others to know Jesus? Nope… (Scribes and pharisees)
Will a pursuit of worship through music, ultimately impassion a person to engage with gospel impact? Nope
Will a pursuit of social justice always lead to eternal life change? Nope, probably a better chance here, but still still not automatic.
Here is the reality. A heart focused on others, experiencing Jesus will naturally lead to a hunger for the word, a passion for the broken and displaced, an intentional engagement in community, etc. It will breed a lifestyle of worship, a passion for others and a natural desire to serve. We have to choose to prioritize the one thing that will ultimately spiritually form us in all those other areas. Focus is not about saying only one thing matters, it is about saying, only one thing will accomplish the big picture in my life and in others. Only one thing will populate heaven, only one thing will transform the world with the love of Jesus.
What matters most is people finding Jesus. Check everything else at the door, and watch how God begins to form it in you in ways you have never imagined, enhancing your church experience like never before.
Luke 15 reveals the heart of Jesus for those who are lost. They are his number one priority… They are what He cares most about… they are what He gave everything for. They are more important than you (If you are a church going, salvation professing Christian). Are we, the church today, giving our lives for the same? Are we prioritizing something different than what Jesus did? Absolutely. When we align our hearts with what Jesus valued most, the windows of heaven are opened, and the power of God can take root in us like never before. That is the picture of the true church.