When I left the world of college athletics to enter ministry more than three decades ago, my home church pastor told me something I have never forgotten. We were preparing to move away to Texas to begin seminary, and he said his one piece of advice to me was this: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
A few years later author Steven Covey popularized that expression in his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but I will always remember where I heard it first. And the context of that advice was that as I entered vocational ministry, I should never forget that my purpose, my calling–“the main thing”–was to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
The truth is, all of us who are followers of Christ have the same mission–our Co-Mission with Jesus actually–which is to make disciples. When you give your life to follow Jesus, you are signing on with His mission. That’s not new information, but it is a helpful reminder to keep us focused on why we are here.
So how do we keep the main thing the main thing? How do we live our lives in such a way so that we intentionally reach out to our community with the gospel and disciple them to Christian maturity? Every church asks those questions, or at least they should. But the answers we come up with are not always the same.
Some use the internet, and specifically social media, to try to communicate with the masses. Others use mass mailings or advertising to try to reach people. Still others host big events to attract attention from their community, and may even resort to gimmicks to try to draw a crowd. You will probably see some of those in the next month as Easter approaches.
There’s nothing wrong with any of those approaches to outreach, but they don’t make disciples. When Jesus gave the Great Commission to His disciples before He ascended to the Father–“go into all the world and make disciples”–He expected them to follow the model He had lived before them for more than three years. His strategy for disciple-making always involved relationships.
So, the key to making disciples is…disciples being disciples, and thus being disciple-makers. The key to reaching people is…people, like you and me, who live among our neighbors, love on them in the name of Jesus, and share a life-changing message they desperately need to hear. That’s keeping the main thing the main thing.
In his book, Leading Beyond the Walls, pastor Adam Hamilton says that every church will flounder if it does not wrestle with and answer these three questions:
Why do people need Jesus Christ?
Why do people need the church?
Why do people need this church?
The answers to those questions are not that complex, really. People need Jesus Christ because only in Him can be found the answers to the most serious problems that we all face–ultimately salvation from sin’s curse, and the gift of eternal life with the Father.
People need the church because God created us to live in community and fellowship with other Christ-followers and to be the “body of Christ” to one another. We are born with a need to belong.
But, why do people need The Church at Shelby Crossings? Well, I’ll let you answer that. And when you determine the answer, be sure to share it with an unchurched friend.
I’m praying for you, as you live your life “on mission” this week, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.