the internally-focused church
Really?! Externally-focused... I don't mind the 'external' word as it reminds us that the Great Commission is critical and that mission is at the very core of God's being and purpose in the world. But that word 'focus' makes me very nervous.
Is the church only about external stuff?
No! No! No! In fact a thousand ugly Noses!
Now I doubt whether the seminar leaders gave this impression. But 'an emphasis in a teacher becomes an extreme in a student' and I wonder about the imbalance that people may have taken home with them.
Read the New Testament and you cannot avoid that there is a heap of internal focus about the church. Let me call just the one witness - Colossians 1:28-29 - "We proclaim him (Jesus), admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."
Seeing God's people become 'perfect' - not so much 'sinless', as mature and ripe and, as the Parachute Band sings, "complete" - is the purpose of Paul's ministry. External-focus without investing in this internal-focus is misguided. It is short-sighted.
It is a bit like the punga, that tree fern in the New Zealand bush. Down Rotorua-way I once saw a punga with 8, 10, 12 branches, or koru, unfurling - all at different stages towards perfection. It was a thing of beauty. It was intriguing. Photos from every angle. I did not want to leave.
Please, please lets not lose sight of Operation Unfurl in the Internally-Focused Church?! It is part of the story. It builds intrigue and external people are attracted. But it also grows and matures the people of God for that ongoing external-focus which remains critical.