When you are part of an organization whose message is universal and has the potential to provide a life-changing impact to everyone, it’s easy to assume that ‘focus’ is not a high priority. Since you’re “selling” something that everyone you come across could benefit from, why would you start picking and choosing whom to focus on first?
The Christian faith, its Gospel message of life-changing redemption, and the promise of an eternal afterlife made possible by a loving God is perhaps the most universal and urgent message that every person needs to hear. Therefore, one would assume that Jesus and his Apostles distributed it equally and at all times to everyone they could reach.
Significantly, however, the opposite is true. Jesus did take time and effort to focus and target his message to those whom he felt had a special reason to become attuned and take action. In that sense, he targeted his focus and prospected carefully, pursuing his own ‘best-fit’ communities and individuals.
Why would Jesus himself do this with such a universal message? Here are three reasons:
1. Affinity breeds vitality.
First, Jesus recognized that a message that is relatable to its initial audience is far more likely to be spread far and wide by that audience. God chose to initiate His message through the Hebrew people, and Jesus was born within and of that people, in fulfillment of a Hebrew prophesy. As a result, Jesus and his message were initiated within a context that made immediate sense to those around him, and this in turn led to an immediate impact.
Instead of just spreading a general message of eternal salvation to those who believe, God presented this message first to a nation and a people who believed in a monotheistic God, believed in a covenant between God and man, and therefore had the proper context to understand and act upon his message.
This is one reason why the Apostle Paul said that the Gospel would be presented “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). Jesus, like most people, had limited time and resources. He was able to accomplish more by narrowing his focus to the Jewish people, and setting the stage for his apostles to take his message to the whole world (Matt: 28:19-20) after his death and resurrection.
2. Clear needs lead to clear solutions.
Jesus also understood that while his message visibly applied to everyone, that does not mean that everyone would hear it clearly the first time. The Good News begins with the realization that all humans are fallen and sinful. But those who feel that they are not sinful by their nature, will be less likely to hear and accept this message at first.
Therefore, Jesus spent most of his time with those who were either in a position to self-acknowledge their own sin (such as the sinful woman in Luke 7:36), or those whose circumstances led them to quickly recognize the need or benefits of the salvation he was offering (like the blind man whom Jesus healed in John 9:1).
Yes, Jesus encountered the rich man, the temple moneychangers, the Pharisees and, eventually, the Romans. However, these encounters focused more on establishing justice for the weak or in demanding reform from those least likely to change their ways, than it did on personal transformation. That is because Jesus focused on serving those who needed serving the most.
3. Partnering is essential to prospecting.
Finally, Jesus also recognized from the very start that his ministry and message required a team effort. Jesus could have focused entirely on direct aid and ministry to individuals, and he did spend a great deal of time on this.
But there was one aspect of his efforts that took even more time, and that was his commitment to selecting, recruiting and nurturing his disciples. Jesus knew that he could lead by example on his own, but at the same time, he could not establish a truly lasting ministry that would reach the whole world without building a team.
Let’s keep in mind that Jesus had to do two things at once during his life on earth. First, he had to communicate the Gospel message and demonstrate its life-changing power. And second, he had to establish an organization that would continue to community that message and provide its ministry and support to people long after his departure. The only way to achieve this effectively was to build a strong core team, teach that team, and guide it to create the future that Jesus envisioned.
An in fact, the church itself was actually formed by Jesus’ disciples after he left this earth. There can be perhaps no greater testament to the power of building a team than to recognize that the worldwide Christian church is directly descended from the original twelve disciples whom Jesus guided toward not only their own salvation, but to the development of a truly global phenomenon as a result.
As a result of Jesus commitment to focus and discipline in his ministry, he achieved his ultimate ends, both during his time on earth and after. The message of this experience is clear: No matter what the message you have to share or the depth and breadth of its applicability to others, you should always begin by focusing your efforts around a strategy built on affinity, clarity and partnering, if truly lasting growth is to be achieved and sustained.