The current world pandemic has caused an uncomfortable reality: we are all in some kind of transition or crisis. No one knows what to do next. World governments are doing the best they can with the information they have, but they are walking in new territory. Most people have more questions than they do answers right now. Experts are still trying to make sense of how “this” happened in the United States.
As uncomfortable as that seems, churches in transition find themselves asking the same types of questions. What do we do now? Where do we go next? What does the future hold? What do we have to know as we head into an unknown future? Prayerfully answering these questions is absolutely vital to a church’s future. Without a clear sense of God’s preferred vision and future, churches are often aimless and congregants are disconnected and unengaged with what God wants to do in their congregation and in their community.
When our interim pastors go into churches, they often lead them through a process that seeks to prayerfully answer these questions, and more. We call this process “Focusing the Church,” and it ultimately seeks to answer one simple question: what is the Spirit saying to the church? This is taken right out of Revelation 2 and 3 where John writes repeatedly, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Focusing the Church revolves around three large group meetings which we call Summits. Each of these meetings answers a question. Summit 1 answers the question, “Where have we been?” It invites a church to take an honest look at its history, along with the historic values that governed its choices. Summit 2 answers the question, “Where we going?” and seeks to discern a path forward. Normally, that includes discerning a clear sense of God’s vision and preferred values. Summit 3 answers the question “How are we going to get there?” and gives the congregation the opportunity to speak into the path forward, including the development of a spiritual formation pathway and mission and evangelism in the community. When all the information is put together, it offers the leaders a clear path forward.
We have found the Focusing the Church process to be an important component in revitalizing a church, since what people speak into, they end up owning. A focused congregation is true to its scriptural identity as the body of Christ, while being prophetic to the context of its ministry setting. That requires a hard inner look at how the gospel shapes our lives and ministries, and Focusing the Church facilitates that hard inner look! In short, Focusing is about being a gospel shaped church that morphs methodologically, while remaining faithful to the historic truths of the Christian faith.
The process is rooted in prayer and typically takes four to six months from start to finish. It is led by a group of lay leaders who are trained and empowered to help the congregation speak into the direction of the church. At a church we served recently, a member of the team of volunteers who planned the three Summits said that the focusing process is, “change management at its finest.”
If you are interested in exploring the Focusing the Church process more, contact us, and we would be glad to talk about what it could look like in your context.
 This tool, which has been modified and updated to best meet the needs of our pastors and their churches, was developed in its original form many years ago by the reFocusing Team from Novo (an international mission agency and our parent organization).