Summary: We need to move our focus out of the walls of the church building and onto others. If we do that then the church can be unleashed to do what the church was called to do.
Externally Focused: Unleashing the Church
I believe God wants us as the Church to impact the world in which we live in. I believe that God wants all people to come to a saving knowledge of Him. I believe He has commissioned us with the responsibility to carry that message into the world. I believe we in the church have really limited ourselves, and for that matter I believe we have really limited God as well. I think it is time that we unleash the church. We all know what a leash is, don’t we? A leash keeps something from going, but so far. Have you ever seen those leashes that are available that you can push a button and lock them so that the dog cannot go further than you allow. When they start to try to run away, you just push that button and they run out of line, they can’t go any further, they look they have run into a wall. The purpose of it is to limit how far the dog can get. I wonder sometimes if the church has been leashed and we are limited because of that leash in what we can do. Dogs don’t like being leashed, they love freedom, and often times when they realize they are not leashed they realize they can go anywhere. We too when we are unleashed are freed as the church to do more and be more, but sadly our leashes hinder us from getting too far, so that when we make steps in the right direction we are pulled back again.
This morning and over the next few weeks I want to talk about a shift in our focus. I want us to shift our focus off of ourselves and onto others. I believe that they key to the church growing and reaching more people is for us to have an outward or an external focus. This is not easy for us because, honestly, I believe so much of our focus has been on ourselves and on the saved. I believe there are some things we cannot avoid spending time and energy on, but sometimes our focus in on ourselves, and maybe I am just as much to blame as the next guy. Think about what consumes our time and energy in the church, and this is not wrong necessarily. Countless hours and dollars are spent in maintenance of the building so that we can come to a functioning place, that is clean, well kept, and comfortable for us. Countless hours are spent in classes and programs and fellowship events within the church. We talk a lot about the necessity and the importance of everyone serving within the church, sometimes to the neglect of encouraging people to serve outside the walls of the church. We have work days where we focus on getting things done around us, we have classes and services, we have countless things which we do where our focus is upon ourselves and the saved, but what is left out? A focus on those outside of the core or the lost.
Sometimes I think we are more internally focused than we are externally focused. If you don’t believe that listen to what upset people, listen to why churches argue and split. It is usually not over the important stuff, but is usually over silly preferences that people have and people usually get upset because they did not get what they wanted. However, if we would learn the most important truth there is to learn today we would change that a little. We need to learn it is not all about us, and we are not number one on the priority list. The church and the world do not revolve around our wants, desires or preferences. In fact we probably do not even come in second place. God is number one and then after that our focus should be on others. I would love to hear someone one day say, “you know I would like this, but let us spend our time and energy somewhere else and on someone else other than me.”
I believe we have a focus problem. We are so worried about ourselves and we spend so much time and energy catering to our needs. We have a selfish consumer mentality. We are so focused on ourselves, that sometimes it is hard to focus on others.
We greatly limit ourselves when we keep the church contained within the walls of a building and that is exactly what we do. It has been taught numerous times, and hopefully we do not need to digress deeply into this, but we know that this place we meet is not the church, we are the church. However, if we have a mindset that we woke up today to attend “church” then the common sense reality is that when the service is over we leave the “church” and if we leave the “church” here as an inanimate object unoccupied five days a week, then the church cannot impact society very well can it? We greatly limit ourselves when we think to ourselves that we have done our religious duty by attending a few services each week. My vision is for a church without walls, and church not contained within a building, but rather a church that as we go into the world we will be able to share Jesus with people. We need to learn and realize that we cannot impact and influence the world for Jesus if we go to church a few times a week only, but the world will change if we unleash the church into the world so that everywhere every member goes the church is there also loving, setting an example, and serving those around them.