Looking back at the close of General Conference, a story about a couple of old moose hunters who went on a yearly hunting trip in remote northern Maine comes to mind. As was their habit, they hired the pilot of a little float plane to fly up to a lake just south of the Canadian border and drop them off. The pilot crammed everything into his little “puddle jumper” float plane, landed on the lake and unload them and all their gear at the shore. “Remember,” he said, “I’ll be back in three days to get you. I’ve got room for the two you, your gear and just one (1!) moose!” They readily agreed and headed off into the woods. Three days later the pilot landed on the lake to find the hunters waiting on the shore with all their gear and two (2!) moose. A heated argument ensued about why the plane couldn’t possibly lift off with that much weight and clear the ridgeline at the end of the lake. It ended when one of the “good ole boys” commented, “Well, the guy who flew last year had the same plane and he was able to take off.” Pride on the line, the pilot grudgingly consented to take both moose, plus the gear and the two of them. They crammed everything in, taxied to the end of the lake and revved their engines to the max. Slowly the little plane gathered speed and finally crept into the air just before it ran out of water. It cleared the initial stand of trees and struggling to make the ridge line, clipped a tall pine at the end of the lake. The plane crashed into the pine trees with antlers, moose bit, camping gear and plane parts flying everywhere. The pilot and hunters came too about the same time perched in the branches of a tall pine. One of the old hunters spoke first. “Where are we?” “Well,” said his buddy, “about 50 feet further than last year. General Conference feels like that. I’m not sure where we are, but it can’t be very much farther than last year. We are a deeply fractured church (not splintered, our fracture runs in multiple directions. Think of a windshield that has been smashed, is still held together but has fracture lines running in all directions). A reasonable, indeed sane, question is “what now are we to do?” The answer I believe lies at the heart of faithfulness. We need to breathe deep and focus! We need to breathe deep. Wesley is right. “The best of all is that God is with us!” As important as structure and ecclesiology are (and make no mistake, they are very! important), it is Jesus Christ who saves. The great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is still before us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Amid all the debate swirling around The Call to Action, the first and most critical emphasis is a ten year focus on building vital congregations. Here in the Central Texas Conference the Conference exists to energize and equip local churches for the great mission of God … “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Whatever the general church structure, this must continue to be our focus! Breathe deep – God is with us! Focus! We are in the business of building vital congregations that make disciples for the transformation of the world. “Use your ambition to try to work toward being the best at building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12b). The title of my blog is This Focused Center. It comes from 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 based on The Message (a paraphrased translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson). “Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.” In the aftermath of General Conference, breathe deep, focus!