The Power of Focus

Today I’ll look at probably the most difficult aspect of implementing a simple strategy for church health. It’s called focus. Focus is difficult because if you focus on one thing, you have to say “no” to something else. And we don’t like to say “no.” We don’t want to hurt feelings, reject ideas, or crush dreams. But many churches will remain largely ineffective until we embrace the concept of focus. So take a look at the idea of focus, by considering this simple acrostic, F.O.C.U.S.

Forsake The power of focus is not just in what you focus on, but on what you don’t. The object of your focus should be the only thing you pay attention to. When couples pledge themselves to the other in marriage, they promise to “forsake all others,” and let their spouse be the focal point of their attention. In order to focus on someone or something, you have to forsake everyone, or everything else. 

Optical Focus is a vision word. It deals with optics, the scientific study of sight. Try this quick experiment. Hold up your finger six inches in front of your nose. Focus on it for five seconds. Now, keeping your finger there and without turning your head, focus on an object on a wall directly across the room. Now focus on your finger again.

focus_1When you were focusing on your finger, the wall on the other side of the room was technically in your field of vision, you just didn’t see it. Likewise, when you focused on the wall, you didn’t notice your finger. The point is, you see what you focus on. If you want to see clearly, focus is a non-negotiable.

Crucial If you are going to accurately assess your current reality, determine if changes are warranted, devise plans, implement strategies, carry out procedures and monitor progress, focus is crucial. If however, focusing on a major issue is just one item on your “To Do” list, it won’t get done well or in a timely manner. If you can’t give the issue the focus it deserves, release the authority to someone who can. Positive forward progress depends on it.

Unusual Intentional focus, especially in a church setting, is unusual. Even rare. Most churches want to be all things to all people. And that seems like a good strategy if you want your church to grow.

But as churches grow larger they naturally lean toward complexity. You don’t have to try, it just happens. I’ve seen it many times. People get excited. Momentum builds. New ministries are birthed. But soon current structures get overloaded, systems get outdated, and volunteer and resource pools get stretched beyond capacity. And the church finds itself in the Squirrel Cage Syndrome. Frantic activity is no longer leading to life-change. Busy-ness is not leading to the church accomplishing its mission.

But high-impact churches actually focus on very few things, but they do them very well. Tragically, in today’s American church, this seems to be the exception, not the rule.

Strategic Focus can be a strategy. It can be so intricately woven into the fabric of a church’s culture, it can permeate every aspect of ministry. What if your church had focus as part of its culture? What if, when it was time to focus, everyone on your team knew what you meant and responded accordingly? What if they instinctively gave the issue at hand the time and energy it was due? For a designated period of time, what if they forsook less important responsibilities, didn’t get side tracked, but made your designated focal point the center of interest and activity?

If that happened, and your church intentionally embraced focus, I firmly believe that priorities would be clarified, passion would be energized, volunteers would be engaged, ministry would flow, the kingdom would be advanced, and God would ultimately be glorified.