Jesus lived the life of focussed attention. The world around him (“Everyone is looking for you Jesus!” says Peter) would drag him into frantic distraction. But, by the power of the Spirit, Jesus knew that his greatest asset was the focussed attention that would take him all the way to the cross in Jerusalem.
Focussed attention is our greatest resource
Is your church frantic or focussed?
That’s a question worth asking. That line above was dropped by the excellent American Rabbi David Wolpe, in a recent podcast with Jewish atheist, Eric Weinstein.
We live in a world that is the opposite of focussed attention. Our world is frantic distraction. Rushing here and there, constantly pulled by one image or another, a social media dip in here, a consumer purchase online there; the muscles of our attention spans have atrophied to the point that it is painful to do one thing, or even less than one thing – nothing! – for any length of time.
Focussed attention is a lost art. We have entered a brave new world of frantic distraction, and we don’t quite know where that will lead us.
Well we have an idea where it might lead us. We are anxious, hard to please, given to ennui and restless. There is a rootlessness in our culture. Nothing is tried long enough to see if breaking through the boredom and restlessness to the other side might produce something worthwhile.
And if focussed attention is our greatest resource, then frantic distraction must be our greatest weakness. The lack of attention we give to anything, and the harried, harassed manner in which we give it, has enervated us and hollowed us out. Nothing seems permanent.
So let me ask again, is your church frantic or focussed? Has your church fallen into the frantic mode? It’s easy to do. It’s easy to follow the culture into that frantic distraction.
Worse, it’s easy to baptise that frantic distraction with a bunch of activity that looks like ministry, that appears to be a gospel centred zeal. In other words its easy to think that the solution to the restless, lost cultural angst we see around us, is to follow the culture along the path that got it there in the first place.
What would focussed attention look like for a church? Focussed attention as opposed to frantic distraction?
A church given over to focussed attention wouldn’t change up all that much from year to year. No new vision casting. Few – if any – new programs, no push to get everyone to “sign up” to whatever the latest thing to sign up to is.
My gut tells me that people are over all of that. Well over it. My gut tells me our congregations are looking for their leaders to lead them away from frantic distraction. Someone, anyone, to lead them away from frantic distraction. They may not be able to articulate that, but that is what they desire deep down.
And they may not know that we are tasked, among other things, with leading them towards focussed attention, but when they get wind of how different that is to frantic distraction, they’ll know. And they’ll want it.