Outward Focus Affects Congregational Life
By Dr. Michael Proud Jr., Director of Missions
Hello Pastors & Ministry Leaders,
In 1991 Joe Batten wrote a book called Tough-Minded Leadership. I realize this is a dated reference but there is something Mr. Batten, who was a brilliant business consultant, wrote that has stuck with me since the time I first read his book. He used a military illustration to describe the difference in perspective between those who were actively serving on the front-lines and those who served in a support capacity.
Essentially his illustration stated that combat personnel on the front-line, those in close proximity to the enemy, had poor living conditions. They slept only a few hours at a time and usually in uncomfortable conditions. When they ate their meals were usually cold, when they drank it was water from a canteen. While their conditions were difficult, they were happy for what they had. Those serving in a support role usually had circumstances that were much better. They slept on cots off the ground, they were dry and clean, and their meals were usually hot and had more than enough water to drink. And yet, those in support roles were more likely to complain because their conditions were not like the comforts of home.
In Batten’s illustration, those who were facing the enemy did not have time to consider what they were missing because they had a battle to fight. As we think about the church there are many comparisons that can be drawn from this analogy. The people who are serving in the church are generally more focused, they understand what is at stake, and they feel like they are living for a greater purpose; they tend to be more surrendered to the Lord. Those who serve tend to have greater joy, a greater love for the lost, and a greater desire to see the Kingdom of God advance. Those who do not serve are more inclined to focus on themselves, their own likes and dislikes, and overall are more apt to complain about what is not working rather than what is.
The bottom line is that when we are surrendered to the Lord and committed to Kingdom work the congregation is more likely to look and behave like the Body it was designed to be.
The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting and Missions Festival is “Where Global and Local Missions Meet.” The whole focus of this gathering will be to hear from churches who have experienced how an outward focus has affected congregational life in their churches. Being on mission energizes the life of the congregation because it causes us to live as the Lord intended. I pray you will come on November 9th and share in this wonderful event!