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April 21, 2016, 12:04 PM

Developing an Outward Focus

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately has been what it is like breathing through a straw.  I know that sound weird, but bear with me.  Breathing in through a straw is horrible.  You can never seem to get enough air.  You can get close, but never to the tipping point.  So you breath in harder, but still no difference.  Breathing in through a straw restricts the air flow just enough so that you cannot keep up. 

But, the other day I saw a video of a dad and his some trying to blow out his birthday candles.  The little boy tried and tried but couldn't blow the candle out.  So the dad got a straw, and had his son blow through the straw.  It worked like magic.  The young child blew the candle out and jumped up and down with excitement. 

Breathing in through a straw restricts the air flow and puts us at a disadvantage.  Breathing out through a straw focuses your effort and maximizes you impact.  I believe that there is a great observation to be made here for the church.  Churches can develop either and outward focus (lets go and do ministry) or an inward focus (come and see what we are doing). 

For a moment, let's think of our church doors as the straw.  Most of our efforts toward church growth focus on trying to get people to come in.  We say it all the time; “Make sure and invite someone to church next week”.  We get really proud when someone that we have invited actually agrees to come.  We have big and elaborate events designed to get people's attention in hopes that they will come.  We have revivals with special music and special speakers hoping to get people to come.  Our biggest goal, and the end game of our efforts seems to be just to get people to come and see what we are doing. 

On one hand, all of these things are good.  We want people to come and see what we are doing.  We want to invite people to come.  The events we do can have a major impact on people.  We want the community to know we are here and realize that we exist to serve the community.  So, I am certainly not saying that we should get rid of the come and see events and efforts.  But, our biggest goal is not to get people to come to our church. 

Now, lets imagine that our Sunday worship service is really our big breath in.  We come to church on Sunday to get filled with the Holy Spirit in worship, get focused on God's will by God's word, and get encouraged by fellowship with believers with the same purpose.  Then at the end of the service, instead of being dismissed, we are commissioned for a week of service to our Lord and Savior.   We are sent out with force and focus to impact our community for Christ. 

If we will read the book of Acts, we will see that this is exactly the mindset of the early church.  The apostles approach was to go out and find people to preach to, rather than inviting people to come and hear them preach.  They viewed every encounter with someone hurting as an opportunity to do ministry, rather than an opportunity to invite them to church.  One thing that I find interesting is that every time they went out and did ministry, people came to see what was taking place. 

Perhaps the two go hand and hand.  If we will go and do, then they will come and see.  Just maybe, when people hear us invite them to come and see what we are doing at church; they first sit back and wait to see what the church is going and doing. 

If we as the church will develop the same burden for our community that Christ has, we will develop an outwardly focused view to the ministry that needs to be done.  Then we will be desperate to go and serve our King by serving our community. 

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