“Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our time is that we have kept our pews and lost our children.” Erwin McManus. Has our passion in the church become more furniture focused than God-focused? Honestly, not in every church is the focus on its furnishings. But where has our focus turned in the church? The implication here is that we, the church, have turned our focus from God to something else, and many in the church would want to quickly denounce that premise. Yet, I will respond to that denunciation with one question.
If our focus were still on God, would the vast majority of our churches be in decline? Don’t get me wrong, we come together to speak and sing about God. We pray to God. We give to the church for God. But is our focus on God as He desires? Is our focus on God as was the church in the book of Acts? I have been in churches where more time was spent discussing the carpet, scuff marks on the hallway floors, and paint colors to use than time spent in prayer.
I’ve been in “prayer meetings” where thirty minutes were spent sharing prayer requests and talking about others and at the end one person offered a one-minute prayer for all the concerns. The average regular church attendee spends less than thirty minutes in prayer each week – an average of 27 minutes. This includes prayers in worship services, before meals, and bedtime among other prayer times. There are 168 hours or 336 half hours in a week. Twenty-seven minutes is less than 1/336 of our week. We spend more time brushing our teeth.
If our focus were on God would we not spend more than 1/336 of our time communing with Him? Is it possible that after all the sermons and homilies we’ve heard, all the Bible studies we’ve been part of, all the ministry opportunities we’ve been afforded, that our focus is still more on our comfort and pleasure than on the God of the Bible?
Is our focus more on our buildings than God’s Commission to service? You can check your heart here by your first thoughts after reading or hearing this question; If God stood before you today and said, “Your building is a hindrance to serving me fully. Will you give up your church buildings and everything inside to follow me?”
What if God asked you to give every dollar in your personal/family bank accounts to help pay off the mortgage of your church? And if God stated that He wanted you to quit your job next week, pack up your family and move to Zimbabwe in four weeks, what would be your first thoughts?
God may never ask you anything like those scenarios, but where is your focus. Would you have without hesitation said yes to each of those situations – and followed through. It is likely that most church attendees/believers would desire to discuss other possibilities with God before making those tough decisions.
God blessed Abraham with only one son. When God told Abraham to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice (killing his only son in obedience to God), Abraham began preparing. He did not question God. He did not enter into a debate with God. Abraham was totally surrendered to God. (Genesis 22)
We sing songs like I Surrender All, and we say that we are wholeheartedly sold-out to God, yet is our focus fully on God or on our comfort in the pleasures and materials of this world? If God were sitting across from you right now, what would He ask of you to give up in order to serve Him more fully?