Do you ever get distracted and lose focus from something important? It happens a lot in our lives with the constant barrage of tasks, demands, and changes.
It also happens in organizations of all types as leaders become distracted, focus upon daily tasks or a pressing problem, and forget to pay attention to the really critical issues. Patrick Lencioni, in his recent leadership book The Advantage, refers to distractions resulting from lack of clarity on fundamental questions and failure to communicate that clarity, leading to “confusion, disorder, and infighting” and low organizational health. In business, it can cause decline and ultimately failure, financial collapse. In the church, distractions can cause misunderstandings, divisions, long-term decline and, yes, failure. But the real failure isn’t financial – it’s in people who God cares about and wanted to reach through those who follow Jesus.
So – what about “the Main Thing”? I always remember that phrase, and Larry Fagan standing up at Annual Conference many years ago saying that “the Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.”
He was reminding us that, even with the distractions that can pull us in many directions, we as the church have got to keep focused upon the “Main Thing” -- to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. THAT’S our mission and purpose, given by Jesus himself (Matt 28:19-20). We do a lot of things in and around the church, but if we get distracted and don’t create clarity to get the “Main Thing” right, we risk long-term failure.
Our United Methodist Book of Discipline reminds us that making disciples – followers – is our mission (par. 120). We know it by heart, and hear it stated so often that we almost forget about it. We get distracted and forget to focus upon “the Main Thing”.
And the local congregation – YOUR local congregation – is the “most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs” (par. 201). So it’s encouraging to see many of our congregations and leaders (both clergy and lay) really engaging in that mission and seeking ways to make disciples and transform lives in their communities. In fact, most of you who have been through an HCI or SCI have re-discovered that mission, stating it in some form of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”. If you’re one of those, may God continue to produce fruit as you keep “the Main Thing the Main Thing” and reach out to transform lives by making disciples – followers – of Jesus Christ.