Bad Words in the Church: “Focus”
This is the fifth in a series on “Bad Words in the Church.”
So maybe you think of “focus” as a good word, not a bad one. But when it is time to apply this important concept, how do you react?
A well-accepted principle in business is that it’s better to do a few things extremely well than to be spread thin doing a variety of things (products, markets, etc.). Healthy businesses go through rigorous processes to decide what to do and what not to do. That is focus. And that is where “focus” becomes a bad word in many churches.
We may like the concept, but we find it hard to say “no” to anything. It’s hard to turn down a new ministry idea that will help people grow spiritually or that has been highly effective elsewhere or that is championed by a key lay leader. So we keep saying “yes” and then wonder why we’re not accomplishing our vision or why we don’t have enough volunteers for our ministries. Focus is ultimately a matter of discipline and clarity of vision and willingness to engage in conflict.
Focus is also a challenge in ministry environments because of the seduction of “only.” Many of the things that cause a church to become unfocused start with the word “only” – “we only need a room to meet in” or “it will only take a little staff support.” How can you say no to committed volunteers who “only” need a little help to launch a ministry? It’s not easy, but it can quickly lead to a lack of focus.
Sometimes you have no one to blame but yourself on this issue. Many visionary leaders create chaos because they are constantly introducing new ideas. If you realize that you are guilty of this, push the pause button for a minute (I know, that’s not easy!), and ask yourself if your creativity and energy are creating forward momentum or confusion.
Sometimes we need to say yes to a great new idea. But before you do, take the time to evaluate the request in light of the vision and to honestly assess what it will require. Focus is much easier said than done, but the fruit is well worth the cost.