A challenge to keep our focus where it belongs.
Dave Wilt is a church planter beginning his second church plant in Staten Island, NYC.
I learned about focus and purpose when developing a sermon while in a preaching class in Bible College. One of the guys in class asked our mild-mannered professor about focus while preparing the proposition statement for a sermon. He asked, “Should you have a shotgun style focus or a rifle type focus”? I’ll never forget my teacher’s philosophical response, he said, “When I develop my focus for the proposition statement, I want to hit my target with a high-powered sniper rifle.” This has also stayed with me to help with my philosophy and focus for the church planting ministry God has called me to here in New York City. We all need a high-powered sniper focus when it comes to ministry!
If you were to look for resources and ideas or other good insight on how to plant, grow or pastor a church, it is best not to look to social media outlets for your information. Look to the Bible and godly counsel.
In all the Great Commission passages (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:21 and Acts 1:8), you will see our laser focus given to the church, and more specifically, the Apostles who would plant and pastor churches from the beginning of church history. From shiny, cutting edge graphics, to Hollywood quality videos, to church YouTube accounts that rival any full time YouTuber, to captivating vlogs, stunning websites, expensive gimmicks, and props there is a tremendous amount of noise calling for our focus. Those Great Commission passages lay out what our focus should be: evangelizing, baptizing and discipling. Now those previously mentioned social media influences are not inherently bad, but we need to focus today more than ever.
As I have sought to plant this church in New York City, I have been told many times that you need a good website, social media footprint and great digital graphics. But what I have learned from experience is that we need to focus, rather Sniper Focus ,on exactly what God has already said. Turn your screen off, cast down any high idea that exalts itself above God and focus on these three things.
Evangelizing is the key to any ministry. Churches that do not evangelize will die. Churches that do not evangelize will not grow. Now when I say evangelizing, I am not saying you need to do church events or big days but rather that you should preach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is really that simple. I have spent thousands of dollars on a big day and no one got saved. I have spent nothing and had a regular Sunday, and several got saved. I have also had the opposite of those things happen as well, but the key factor is that when I am faithful to evangelize, God has helped me to see that His Word does not return unto to Him void. God has shown me that when I am faithful, He is faithful and especially His word is faithful.
Baptizing a new believer is a public testimony for that person. Its public for our church. It’s public for that person to be in front of the church goers. It’s public because often that person will speak to their family about it. One of our Albanian believers faced severe persecution for being saved and baptized and his father threatened to break his legs if he continued to come to our church. Many former Catholics are essentially kicked out of their families for following the Lord in believer’s baptism. It is even more simple. It is commanded so we should do it. And we have all heard that God blesses obedience. As I was baptizing a few people on a certain Sunday, a new faithful attender said after the service, “Pastor, I need to be baptized.” I knew he was not saved so I asked when the exact day he got saved was and he said he didn’t have a day. I was able to lead him to the Lord and God gave him a day that he would never forget. Later I was able to baptize him and begin discipleship.
Discipleship is biblical and essential to our focus in ministry. I am a firm believer in one-on-one discipleship. Discipleship has planted our church and many other churches for that matter. Its difficult to not see that the early church discipled and taught new believers. Discipleship is not pastoral teaching. It is not taking some young men or women to a conference. It is not just a coffee shop Bible study. It is not just a Bible study. It is a systematic study of all things in God’s Word: all major doctrines, philosophy, and events in the Bible. You must have a plan, or you are planning to fail. I use a discipleship booklet and I urge you to pray over a good discipleship booklet. Any good resource on this matter will include teachings on evangelizing, baptizing and discipleship. My book includes modules to train your new disciple how to disciple before they are even done with discipleship. We must have extreme focus to disciple.
You don’t need a designed t-shirt, stellar graphics or a stunning church or room to meet in to find success and focus. What we all need to do is get back to our Bibles and rekindle a love for what the first century church focused on. The early church did not have graphics, immaculate buildings, modern transportation, cutting edge websites or any of the other nonsense that can distract us from our focus. If you follow the Bible with none of these things, we just might find High Powered Sniper Focus.