The story of Michael Phelps in the Olympics last summer captivated the world. His quest to achieve more gold medals than any other athlete made for interesting stories during the coverage of the games. One interview featured his life, for years, leading up to the 2008 Olympics. He ate, slept, and trained – period. For years that was the sum total of his life. He stayed focused on his goal and said no to everything else.
Finally we come to the fourth phase of Thom Rainer’s Simple Church – focus. Once you have accomplished the other three – Clarity, Movement, and Alignment, then the hard part will begin, and it will never end. It will be ongoing for the rest of your ministry life.
Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside the simple ministry process. Focus is the most difficult element to implement. Things outside the simple process threaten to steal attention and energy from what has been determined as necessary.
To focus is to say “no” a lot. Saying no is difficult, and must be done with God’s wisdom and timing. Here are Rainer’s five essentials to focus:
Eliminate nonessential programs-focus requires churches to forsake programs that are outside the ministry process.
Limit adding more programs-less really is more; less programs mean more focus on the programs offered; less programs means more impact.
Reduce special events-simple churches are so focused on their ministry process that there is little time for extra events that distract.
Ensure the process is easy to communicate-in order for people to agree with the single-minded focus of your church, the process must be easily communicated.
Ensure the process is simple to understand-people are incapable of focusing on something they do not understand. Understanding leads to focus and commitment.
Simple churches have focus. It is necessary but not easy. The focus will be tested and questioned. Church leaders must have the single-mindedness of the Apostle Paul who said, “One thing I do”.
Are you ready to be focused, to say no? Are you committed to staying focused on your simple ministry plan?