As a church community, where do we invest our time, resources, and focus? It’s a challenge every congregation must address: does what we’re doing align with who we’re called to be? What does Jesus call the local church to be about?
Christ Presbyterian Church’s vision statement, in its most concise form, answers that question like this:
As a family united in Christ and led by Scripture, we at Christ Presbyterian Church exist as partakers in a movement of God’s Kingdom that offers spiritual life, public faith, mercy and justice, and the integration of faith and work to the people, communities, institutions, and churches of greater Nashville, and through Nashville, to the world.
Spiritual life. Public faith. Mercy and justice. The integration of faith and work.
These are the four main areas of focus we, as a congregation, pour ourselves into. These four categories include worship and sacrament, individual and corporate discipleship, caring for the poor and disadvantaged, loving our city, and aspiring, by God’s grace, to live so that we leave our work and world better than we found it.
As we seek to live out this vision, it would be so easy to lose ourselves in busyness—to add layer after layer of programs and events that could overwhelm the heart. At a recent staff meeting, Christ Presbyterian Church’s ministry directors discussed a recent article from Thom Rainer outlining some reasons why churches become too busy. One reason he offers is that we can spend ourselves doing things that don’t align with our vision and purpose. We can get so busy with activity that we lose focus on what matters most.
Of course, this doesn’t only apply to church leadership teams. It applies to everyone. Are we busy? Or are we focused?
Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) tells this story:
“As they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
One thing is necessary, Jesus tells Martha. What is that one thing? In a world where we will never run out of things to do and ways to stay busy, what is the one thing Jesus says we need most? To be near him and to gaze upon his beauty.
It is a constant refrain in the Psalms. We see it in Psalm 27:4
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
(See also: Psalm 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5)
There is nothing inherently wrong with being busy from time to time, or having busy seasons. But when we go for weeks on end feeling overwhelmed with busyness, we do well to ask if we’re making any time for the one necessary thing—nearness to Christ.
What are some things you’re invested in that demand your focus but don’t align with your purpose and calling in this season of your life? Where are you busy but not focused?
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Russ Ramsey is a pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church and the author of Struck: One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017), Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative, and Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is a graduate of Taylor University and Covenant Theological Seminary. Follow Russ on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.