Question 2: Has friendship displaced focus?

Nothing worthwhile happens in ministry outside of relationships.  Christianity is all about relationships.  Service is about people.  Ministry is about people.  The church is God’s family.  A strong sense of belonging, acceptance, and friendship is critical if a community of faith is to be a real community.

But if we’re not careful it’s easy to so turn inward and invest all or most of our time and resources on insiders. Recently I heard an illustration about the church being a bus.  Inside the bus people must learn to love and serve one another and get along peacefully and thoughtfully.  It’s really awesome when you get to experience true unity with God’s people.  That can happen with the bus sitting still.  It doesn’t have to go anywhere!  But there’s more to God’s plan than a bunch of happy people sitting on a bus, singing Kumbaya.  There’s a mission to accomplish.  There are souls to be saved and lives to be changed. 

The Great Commission must always be a major part of our vision and motivation.  An exclusive focus on  relationships within the church can take your “leadership eyes” off of the heart of Jesus.  Remember that it was Jesus who said, “For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

So what about your life, ministry, and church?  Are you so focused on existing believers that you have no time to think about, pray about, and do something about those who don’t know Christ?

If this question nails you, here’s some follow up advice:

  • List some of the evidence that shows you have allowed the needs of “insiders” to crowd out the Great Commission:


  • How can you begin to establish a more healthy balance between fellowship and mission?


  • Are you modeling the importance of connecting with outsiders? 


  • What can you do to elevate the importance of reaching out to the lost?

4 thoughts on “Question 2: Has friendship displaced focus?

  1. Kevin Murray says:

    Bro Dane,
    Great blog, and it’s fantastic that I can still be connected to you through it! I agree with you. The Great Commission is a call within which we all serve various roles. So it needs to be accommodated as part of our walk, and we need to focus a fair amount of our time on it. I’m just thinking of Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Arguably, then, the priority for “doing good” is inwardly focused on the church. And because “doing good” involves thinking, planning, and doing, it is understandable why it can take so much of our time. That being said, the Great Commission needs to be accommodated. It is a call for all of us, and we yearn for others to know Christ. But like you said, focusing internally and outwardly is a balance.

    • Kevin, you are right – from Paul’s letters we do see an emphasis on the insider. Of course, Paul was doing the job of tirelessly preaching to those outside. He had it as his ambition to preach Christ where He had not been preached. He became all things to all men that he might win some.

      I think that the Great Commission needs to be more than “accomodated as part of our walk”. Accomodate gives the image of patiently enduring something that’s really not part of your main charge. Can we say that Christ “accomodated” the value of reaching the lost? He did more than accomodate, He intentionally pursued and purchased us. He is our supreme pattern.

      You sound like a pastor or something: always thinking about the sheep! I commend you for your burden to watch over God’s kids! Amen. Just keep bringing outreach off the back burner, because it usually the first thing to be forgotten.

      Stay in touch, my good brother.

  2. Judy says:

    I take this as confirmation that it is ok to spend time with nonChristians and develop solid friendships that allows me to share my faith without pushing it down their throats. I believe it takes time to develop trust and to debunk myths about Christianity which have kept friends from seeking God. Sometimes it seems those in the church wonder why I hang out with nonChristians and don’t spend more time with church members. I think we need to have friendship within and outside the church.

  3. Judy,

    Christian fellowship when allowed to crowd out intentional mission, often effectively neutralizes any real opportunities for the same. Within 2-3 years after becoming a Christian, most people no longer have any meaninful friendships with non-believers. This isn’t evil, just a social fact. If somebody does not have intentional friendships with outsiders, you can be sure that person will probably not influence anyone to believe in Jesus.

    But we need to guard against the danger of “bad company corrupting good morals” as well. If we get out of balance and spend most of our time with people who are not believers, we can subtly begin to be influenced by their earthly focus. Jesus spent time with sinners, but didn’t embrace their man-centered values and lifestyles. He clearly did NOT love the world or the things of the world. He loved the Father and lived to manifest the Father’s life and love.

    May God help you strike the healthy balance between fellowship and mission.


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