You have probably heard this cute but powerful phrase: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
When Jesus heard His friend, Lazarus, was severely sick, He told His disciples He needed to go there—to Bethany. It was a dangerous destination—close to Jerusalem where the religious leaders were out to kill Him. Jesus knew the danger, but His focus was on His mission. His disciples tried to dissuade Him. They knew the danger—and the risk. But Jesus was on a mission!
Having consulted a couple of thousand churches from seventy-seven different denominations, networks, movements, and independent and nondenominational congregations, I have seen a great amount of mission distraction.
Here is what happens: Well-meaning Christians come up with a “good” idea—an activity or program for the church. They pitch it to the pastor, staff, and/or board, and it becomes part of the lifestyle of the church.
It seems like few church leaders are able to ask: “How does this fit with our divine mission?” ven fewer are willing to say, “No!”
So, churches everywhere are distracted by disruption—“good” things. The focus of the mission becomes diffused.
Yet, not every “good” thing is a “God” thing. Church people are worn out like the person climbing the ladder with enthusiasm—but it’s on the wrong wall. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul writes about some terrible experience he suffered. Today, no one knows what it was. Paul writes in a way that makes it clear: The people in Corinth already knew what it
was. They were praying for him.
In 2 Corinthians 1:12-14, Paul shares that it was not by his own brilliance that he got through the issue: “It was God who kept us focused on Him, uncompromised.” I have concluded that when a nation becomes more secularized, part of the issue falls at the feet of Christians who have failed, to a degree, in their God-given mission. However, the issue behind the issue is a lack of focus on the one thing that God has called us to do: Make disciples of Jesus Christ. Distractions lead to disruption of the mission. Focus requires an elimination of distractions.
Thank God that Jesus never lost His focus. In so many churches, peripheral clutter has become tradition. Like Lazarus, much of the church’s mission is lifeless, trapped in a tomb. Yet Jesus is the master of resurrection. For churches, it is called a revival.