by Robert J. Young
Most people tend to observe things of special interest to them while paying little or no attention in other areas. A husband does not notice what his wife is wearing as they leave to go out for the evening, but immediately sees the tiny scratch in the paint on their new car. His wife can tell him that the friend they unexpectedly met at the restaurant had changed her hair color but cannot describe how they got to the restaurant and could not find her way there again. We observe the things in which we are interested. This tendency is called selective attention.
Most people listen to things they find interesting while being less than attentive at other times. A husband does not hear his wife's request. A child does not hear a mother's instructions. Never mind that the request and instructions are audible and clearly stated--disinterest has taken over. At other times, people overhear barely audible conversations not intended for their ears. Most of us have some firsthand awareness of selective hearing.
The church must recapture the vision. We must think, plan, hope, define expectations, consider possibilities. We must give careful attention to every dynamic of the church. All of tend toward selective vision. We see things differently, fail to see some things, are uniquely capable of seeing items generally overlooked by others. The importance and value of having an entire congregation involved in the "visioning" process is accentuated because of the unique viewpoints of individual members of the body.
What is the church becoming? Where are we going? Where should we be going? What changes do we need to make to effectively minister in our communities and contexts? Today? Tomorrow? In the next decade? What do the world, our communities, our churches, our members need? These are good questions, important questions. Each is a different question, with a different focus and different answer.
The vision of some is focused on change. Others focus on effective ministry or progress or identity. Some focus on the community context, others on the church, others on how individual needs can be met. Selective attention is a fact of life.
I appreciate church leaders. Effective church leaders ask probing questions. They allow input. They want to know the thinking of the church; they have their pulse on the lifeblood of the flock. Each local congregation makes and defines its own destiny as church. Hearts must focus on ministry and spiritual growth. Effective church leaders want all of the sheep, with multiplied selective interests, to find identity, belonging, and involvement in the body of Christ.
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
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