....and how it will radically effect our lives and ministries!
A church planter I read about is starting autonomous simple churches. The planter says, "This is not a plan to grow (our) traditional church, it's all about the kingdom because the church is not an end in itself." He continues, "The task of the church is to equip our members for kingdom living in the world." Another person says, "We are now, not church-centric but kingdom-centric."
What's the difference? Church-centric, or sometimes called, 'pulpit-centred' churches are mostly about what goes on within the walls of the building - especially on Sunday morning! To be kingdom-centric is much more about what happens outside of the church walls - answering the prayer Jesus taught us to pray....."Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."
Jesus also emphasises that the church is not an end in itself. In fact he makes it clear in Matt. 16:18, 19 where he says, "I will build my church...and I will give you the keys of the kingdom." Peter used these keys to open the kingdom to the Jews, Acts 2, and to the Gentiles, Acts 10. I've likened the purpose of the church to our schooling system. A school is not an end in itself. The end is to equip our children for adult life, especially their chosen careers. It would be hardly normal to stay at school for 20 + years and never get immersed in the real world, and never discover ones' calling in life. I have heard of a person who spent 26 years in various schools and was too nervous to face the real world. I've also known people somewhat similar in a church rut! Rut = a grave with no ends! Sign on a snow covered, neglected road in the Klondike: "CHOOSE YOUR RUT CAREFULLY - YOU'LL BE IN IT FOR A LONG TIME!"
The demoniac Jesus healed wanted to join Jesus' disciples. What a great opportunity for him to have 'follow-up' instruction. After all he was a pretty raw sort of dude. So what did Jesus say? "Go home to your friends and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you." So the man started off to visit the Decapolis (ten towns) and began to tell everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him..." He may not have known much but Jesus considered that telling his story was all the equipment he needed for an effective, 10-town, kingdom ministry.
I know of a successful, devoted Christian business person who, on retiring thought he would become more spiritual and become a pastor. He then discovered his kingdom lifestyle was suffocating in this unfamiliar ministry and so went back to his real calling. He says, "Kingdom ministry embraces industry, government, leisure and creativity of every sort, all of life in fact, not just church activity." And, "Jesus didn't come to merely establish institutions called churches, nor a religion call Christianity. He came to declare that, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'."
So what does all this have to do with us living in this modern age? What should we be doing? Here's some short answers - you fill in the gaps:
- Meet with other kingdom-focused believers to follow the Heb. 10:24, 25 instructions.
- Consider your position in life, at home or work a kingdom calling - equal to any so-called 'spiritual' or 'full-time' ministry.
- Expect God to enable you to demonstrate kingdom principles and practices in your sphere of influence.
- Pray, as Jesus taught us, for God's kingdom to come and his will to be done in your "earth" as it is in heaven.
Your feedback is appreciated and welcome.