Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Focus Commitment

One Focus Commitment
Luke 10: 2

Three weeks ago, I began preaching about One Focus.  I shared this story about Starbucks, but I share it again, because it captures in my mind exactly what we are trying to do with One Focus.
In January 2008, Howard Schultz became the CEO of the Starbucks Coffee Company for the second time.  Schultz was the entrepreneur who started Starbucks, but he stepped aside in 2000 to grow the company into new markets.  From 2000 – 2008, Starbucks thought they could grow their business and their profits by opening new stores all over the country.  (There was even a time when it was a common joke to talk about a Starbucks on every street corner or new Starbucks opening up across the street from another Starbucks.)
Ironically, Starbucks’ plan for growth did not work.  By 2007, they had over 9,000 stores in the United States.  But, they were losing customers, and their stock values had plummeted 42%.  That is when Schultz became CEO for the second time.
In Schultz’ first month as the returning CEO, he made a couple of bold moves.  First, he closed approximately 1,900 Starbucks stores.  This was a difficult move, but it was not unheard of in the business world and nothing like what he did next.  His second move was to find a way to retrain every Starbucks employee.  The only way to do this was to close every Starbucks location for three hours of training.
On Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 7,100 Starbucks stores closed to retrain their employees.  In their pursuit of growth, they had lost sight of their purpose.  Their employees did not know how to make a proper shot of espresso.[1] 
Starbucks had learned the hard way that by focusing on reaching the masses they had lost their focus on the one.  For Starbucks, the only way to fulfill their mission was to focus on one perfect shot of espresso for one customer at a time.  For a church, the only way to fulfill our mission is to focus on making a difference in the life of one person at a time…  Helping one hurting person…  Meeting the physical needs of one needy person…  Providing spiritual nourishment for one person who has not heard God’s Good News of salvation…
We may never reach the masses, but we can reach one.  And this is God’s plan…  One Christian reaching out to one other person.

One Focus
This is what we are trying to do with One Focus.  We are not asking you to reach the world.  We want you to help us reach one person.
One Focus is an effort to make evangelism and outreach a part of your everyday life.  We are not sending you out to knock on doors and share the Gospel with strangers.  Instead, we want you to pay attention to the people you already know.  Surely there is one person in your life who is either not a Christian or at least not affiliated with another church.
We are not asking you to become confrontational with every new person you meet.  “Hello.  My name is Andy.  If you died right now, would you spend eternity in Heaven or Hell?”  Instead, we are asking you to show the Love of Jesus to people you already know.  Invest in them as a true friend and show Love by serving their needs.  Be genuine.  You can’t fake Love and concern for others.
We are not asking you to stand on the street corner with a Bible in one hand and a bull horn in the other hand preaching, “The end is coming.”  Instead, we want you to preach the Gospel in your actions.  Let your Love for others open up an opportunity to tell your friends how Jesus has changed your life.

So, how do you answer that question?  What has Jesus done for you?

The basic answer is found in John 3: 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (NIV).”
Jesus is an expression of God’s Love for the world.  God loves the world so much that God took the initiative to rescue the world. 
Sin separates us from God.  There are two ways we can talk about sin.  On one hand, we can talk about sins—the specific actions we commit which are contrary to God’s will.  On the other hand, we can talk about sin—the fallen condition of human life.
Our sins separate us from God.  Our best efforts miss the mark and fall short of God’s perfection.  Sometimes, we stray from the path God wants us to follow.  Other times, we actively and intentionally rebel against God’s instructions.
At the same time, we find ourselves living in a fallen and imperfect world.  All of life is affected by sin.  We experience a broken relationship with God, a broken relationship with humanity, and a broken relationship with creation.
We cannot fix our sin problem.  Therefore, God sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to solve our sin problem.  Jesus went to the cross to give his life as a voluntary sacrifice.  Jesus’ sacrifice makes atonement for all our sins and our sinful condition.  This is offered to all people (the world), but it is only applied to those who have faith in Jesus.  (As John 3: 16 says, “whoever believes in him…”)

Jesus knew this was his role to play in God’s plan of salvation.  He lived a perfect life as our example.  He served the needs of all people—male and female; slave and free; Jew and Gentile.  Then, Jesus sent out his followers to tell the world who he is…

Luke 10: 2... "(Jesus) told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.""

Jesus knew who he was and what he had been called to do.  Jesus taught his disciples about the Kingdom of God and predicted his sacrificial death.  Then, Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples to go out as his witnesses in the world.  I want you to notice three things about this Scripture.

First, when Jesus looked out in the world he saw a world filled with unbelievers.  We can probably say the same thing today.  We look out and see a world without Jesus.  People are so concerned with making more money that they never stop to think about the most valuable things in life.  People take a hostile stance against the Gospel, because they think the Christian faith is narrow minded and old fashioned—they never realize that God sent his Son as an expression of love and desire to redeem all of humanity.  It is enough to make Christians feel discouraged and depressed.  But, Jesus was not discouraged.  Jesus saw the world as an opportunity to spread God’s Love to people who had never heard.  The world is a field which is ripe and ready for harvesting.  This is not a problem.  This is an opportunity.

Second, Jesus challenged his disciples to pray.  I think Jesus is inviting us to share his opinion of the world as an opportunity and not a problem.  If God loves the world (and all the people in the world), then just look at the opportunity to show God’s Love!  We need to pray that the world will be receptive to hear and experience the Love of God.  And, we need to pray that God will send someone to show God’s Love to the world.

Third, I want you to notice the first thing Jesus says after telling his disciples to pray.  Jesus told us to pray that God would send someone to the world.  Then, Jesus said, “Go!  I am sending you…”  As we pray for God to send someone, we need to remember the way God often answers prayer.  As you pray for God to send someone…Get ready…You might be the person God chooses to send.  God may answer our prayers by sending you and me.

Conclusion: Commitment
On Wednesday of this past week, approximately 200 people gathered here in our sanctuary to celebrate the life of Cindy Ramsey.  Cindy was an inspiration to so many people in our church and community.  She modeled a life of joy, peace and hope despite the physical problems she faced.
Before Cindy had her lung transplant in 2007, she gave me a copy of what she wanted us to do for her funeral service.  She selected songs for the congregation to sing.  She selected special music and asked singers to sing at the service.  She selected two people (Aubrey Knox and Patsy Parks) to give eulogies about Cindy’s life and faith.  She even told me what she wanted me to preach.  She wanted me to preach an evangelistic message about Jesus Christ, her Lord.
A couple of years ago, Cindy asked me if she could give her testimony in our Sunday morning worship service.  And, one Sunday, Cindy stood in this pulpit and told us how much she believed in the power of prayer.  While Cindy was waiting for her lung transplant, she found comfort and hope in prayer.  While Cindy was recovering in the hospital, she cherished the prayers of her church.  Prayer gave her strength to face all her troubles and to know that God would never leave her or forsake her.
This is the reason our staff thought Cindy Ramsey was the perfect person to serve as our One Focus prayer coordinator. 
When I asked Cindy to be our prayer coordinator, I started out by describing One Focus.  (We are going to ask all our church members to focus on one person for the next year.  We are going to ask them to pray for that one person, to love that one person, to serve that one person, to share the Gospel with that one person, and to invite that one person to church.  We as a church are going to plan specific events to share the Gospel with the people our church members invite to come to church.)  When I told Cindy this, her immediate response was, “This is a great idea, but it will only work if our church commits to pray.”  Then, she started giving me suggestions about praying verses of Scripture and making a prayer list to put in the church newsletter and the Sunday morning bulletin and in the Prayer Room.  And, I knew I had my prayer coordinator…
When, I finally asked Cindy to be our One Focus prayer coordinator, she said, “Let me pray about it, and I’ll let you know before Thursday.”
Just two weeks later, we held a One Focus leadership meeting on a Sunday evening.  Cindy showed up with three handouts telling us how to pray for One Focus and how to pray for people who do not know Jesus.  We have been printing Cindy’s suggestions in the newsletter and the Sunday bulletin and I put a copy in the Prayer Room.  Then, Cindy caught me off guard by asking if anyone had signed up for One Focus.  I said, no.  Cindy said, “Then, I want to be the first person to turn in my signed commitment card.”

Now you have an opportunity to sign a commitment card to be a part of One Focus.  (Ushers distribute cards to everyone in the sanctuary.)

Let’s take a minute to fill out our correct contact information.  Even if you do not commit to One Focus, this will help us to update our information.  We have a hard time keeping current email addresses.

Now let’s look at the back of the card…

I believe John 3: 16…  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

I believe 2 Peter 3: 9…  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

I understand God wants me to be like Jesus… Ephesians 4: 12 – 13…  “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

I understand that God has sent us into the world…  Matthew 28: 19 – 20…  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If you believe this and want to participate in God’s mission to reach one person in the next year, please sign your name and write the name of your one person.  (If you do not want to write your one person’s name, write down their first name or their initials.  Or, if you want to be a part of One Focus but don’t know who your one person is write “Praying” in the blank.)

Let’s take a moment to make our commitment to be a part of One Focus.  While the music plays, please come forward and place your signed card here at the altar.

[1] Summarized from Howard Schultz, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul (New York: Rodale, 2011).

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