Summary: Christians have all kinds of opinions about what preachers should do in their congregations. But what does God want those who enter the pulpit ministry to focus on? What is the "main thing" that these men should devote themselves to?

There’s an old saying:

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

We’ll come back to that in a moment.

Back in the 1990’s the Indianapolis Pacers Basketball Team had been struggling for more than a decade to be a contender in the NBA. With the exception of a couple of years, most of their seasons were lackluster with the team unable to win even half of their games.

Eventually, after firing another coach, they hired a famous basketball player with no coaching experience: Larry Bird.

He took over a team suffering from sluggishness and injuries - and in his 3 years of coaching the team consistently made them a team capable of winning about twice as many games as they lost. Two years they made it to their divisional finals, and his last year as coach saw the Pacers make it all two consecutive Central Division titles in 1999 and 2000, and a berth in the NBA finals in 2000.

Various explanations could explain why the Pacers struggled for all those years, but I’m inclinded to believe that part of the problem could be summed up in the story of a player the team called Roger Rim Shot.

At thirty nine years old Roger was the oldest member of the team. In his long career with the Pacers, he had scored a grand total of two points. During a game in his 5th year with the team, the Pacers were leading by 20 points, there was one second left to play in the 4th quarter and somehow Roger was fouled. He took his foul shots and made both of them.

With those numbers, you might ask how he managed to stay on the team.

Well, it seems that Roger’s uncle Phil had a major food franchise in the arena, and that he also sponsored the team with $15,000 per season. The sponsorship not only gave the Pacers a revenue source, it also came with the stipulation that Roger would always have a place to play on the NBA team. If Roger left for any other reason than his resignation under warm and friendly circumstances, the food company’s contract and the 15,000 were history.

Roger’s first encounter with Larry Bird was to complain that the food vendors were going to be offering Pepsi products for sale in the arena during the upcoming season. He was SO upset that if the decision wasn’t made to switch back to Coca Cola products, then he was going to quit the team, and everybody knew what that would mean.

APPLY Every once in a while an organization can forget why it exists. For a team like the Pacers, who struggled for so long just to exist, money was important factor in their survival. And this reality apparently led the owners to focus on making money at whatever the cost. But that led them to lose sight of their major reason for existing.

What is the main reason a basketball team exists?

They exist to play basketball and win games.

I suspect, the team owners had forgotten the wisdom of that old saying: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

But there are times when an organization can get sidetracked.

And there are times when the church has the same problem.

There are times when the church begins to think their main reason to exist is to:

· Have a large congregation

· Have an entertaining worship service

· Have a dynamic youth program

· Reach out to the poor

· Build a worshipful building

· Etc. etc. etc.

Now, those are good things, and a good church will strive to accomplish those goals.

But those objectives are not the MAIN reasons for a church to exist.

What is the main purpose for any church?

A church exists primarily to obey God. To do what He asks them to do.

If a church doesn’t obey God… it undermines its reason for existing

There are all kinds of churches across the nation who do wonderful things, and experience sizable crowds and are highly regarded in the religious world. But if they’re not careful, they can get focused on doing things that make them look wonderful, and draw the big crowds and gain the respect of people around them and neglect the approval of God.

They can end up getting focused on something other than the “main thing”.

And that “main thing” is obeying God.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking at what the God expects of us as a church when it comes to the role of:

· Preachers

· Elders

· Deacons

· And everyone else

I’ll guarantee you that if our church follows God’s descriptions of these functions within the church, we may not be the biggest congregation around or even the most successful… but we will be the strongest - because we tried to do it God’s way.

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