The Myth of Multitasking Merits in Ministry

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There is probably a lot going on in your church right now. You may be pleased with your church’s multitasking abilities. Maybe you have ministries for men, women, children, singles, divorcees, young adults, seniors, baby boomers, families, and single parents. Whew! Your many, many ministries are probably source of pride for you. But does it seem like despite all this wonderful ministering, your attendance, giving, or engagement is down?

The Myth of Multitasking

There is a scientifically proven reason that despite all your long list of wonderful efforts, your list of accomplishments and your feeling of productivity and effectiveness is low. From the business world to regular people like moms, dads, doctors, lawyers, even you and I, too much multi-tasking has proven to be a bad thing. Trying to juggle too many thing at once doesn’t usually work out.

When I was a student in college learning about the fundamentals of marketing, and advertising in particular, my professor taught me that when designing an ad, pick one point to convey (maybe two if they are related) to your audience. Any more than that and they won’t remember any of your points at all.

We sometimes do this as a church. We want to be all things to all people. In trying to do too many different things, we end up succeeding at nothing. There is an old saying (although the Internet can’t decide if its Roman, Russian, or Chinese) “Chase two rabbits, catch none.”

While we are trying to accomplish several different goals, are we really getting any closer to achieving anything? In most churches there is limited man power available to carry out the tasks at hand. If those few people are all working on different things, how much can we really get done?

Thomas Edison said, “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Busy Being Busy

Much of what goes on in some churches is “seeming to do” things. We have committees for everything. Here’s an example. I was once asked to come up with a plan to encourage use of (aka marketing) our church’s new facility. So much time and money were spent on this building that the church leaders wanted to see it get used by the community (rented out). I came up with a preliminary set of ideas. I was told that I needed to hold a meeting of my marketing committee who would then recommend this plan to the finance committee who would then approve it for the facilities committee, who could go get final authority from board. Crazy!

How many people need to sign off on a plan in your church?

Being busy and having lots of different ministries makes us feel like we are doing great work for the Kingdom. I’m not entirely sure this is the case. How often we get distracted by the mundane details that we forget to focus on the greater mission.busy multitasking, not required to do greater things.

God has counseled us about losing focus on Him.

“‘You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.’ This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. … You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.'” ~Haggai 1:5-7,9

God’s Design for Our “Body”

God created our minds to work best when focusing on a single topic and those things related to that one topic. The myth of multitasking has been debunked in recent years, science has once again proven what God already told us. When trying to multitask our brains are required to start and stop thinking about multiple trains of thought. It is like being constantly interrupted. Constant interruptions can be very frustrating and leads to unneeded stress. Even if multitasking works for a short while, this type of stress cannot be sustained over the long haul.

The church works in much the same way. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are the body of Christ. If the eyes are trying to do one thing and the hands another, how effective would that body be?

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Our job, as a follower of Christ, is one thing: Make disciples. Each church is unique. Just like one person cannot be a father and a mother, a brother and a sister, a pilot, baker, librarian, doctor, lawyer, accountant, and a chef all at the same time; a church cannot be all things to all people. Discover what your church does best, then do that to your utmost.

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