When you want to do something new in life, you have to adjust your focus.
I really didn’t like what he had to say to me, mostly because it meant I would have to be different. I had a terrific professional coach and we were talking about the reality that in this day and age people were making choices that kept them from growing in faith. Sundays are no longer saved for church. There are soccer games for the kids, football games for the grown up. People like to travel or simply take time off after a stressful week. No matter how good the worship service was, people were choosing to do other things.
My coach challenged me to shift my focus from the choices other people were making to the choices I was making. He then began to ask about how I was helping people to make the choice to attend worship over other things. His questions began to challenge a great deal of what we did at the church. I realized I had to give people a reason to make the choice to attend worship. We had to give people a reason to bring their kids to Sunday School. We had to give people a reason to participate in mission work.
Simon Sinek wrote an interesting book called, It Starts with Why. We, as a church, and I, as a pastor, needed to give people a reason why they should make their spiritual formation a priority over other things. What my coach said next was what I didn’t want to hear. He said the entire church had to be so forward focused that we could easily give people their reason why to make different choices.
The Sunday School had to plan the entire year – which they were used to doing. But now they had to add a statement about the practical application for children in today’s world. I had to plan my sermons for the entire year. Not just sermon titles and scripture references, but for each week I had to include a statement that indicated “if you come to worship this Sunday, this is how your life will be different.” The same was true for the youth ministry, the mission team, everything. It wasn’t an easy task. We all had to work hard to give people a reason to make the choice to attend to their spiritual formation. We published the entire year and the “why coming to this will make a difference.” The people could look on the website and use the Discipleship Plan to help them make
In Mark 2:21-22 we read these words:
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
This passage is repeated in Matthew and in Luke. All three occasions Jesus speaks those words after he had been asked why his followers didn’t fast like the followers of other leaders. It seems the message that Jesus was giving was that he was coming to do something new, and if they were to accomplish that goal, then the people would need to live differently than what was expected. It was time to refocus. The rules around fasting took so much time and energy that they were a distraction from the new thing Jesus wanted to do.
If you want something different to happen in your life, you have to be different – you have to refocus. Putting new wine into old wineskins is just a disaster waiting to happen.
Did you start a new job – it’s time to refocus. Want to get out of debt – it’s time to refocus. Do you believe God is calling you to change the culture at your office – it’s time to refocus. Do you want your church to grow in discipleship – it may just be time to refocus.
You may be at a moment of decision when you must choose new wineskins or old ones. It is always a challenge to set the old wineskin aside and be different. Yet it is the only way to make things happen.
So, let me ask this question – What will you do with Today’s Defining Moment?