Several years ago, I was asked to share with a group of missionaries in Chili about what we had learned from church planting in Toronto. On the fourteen-hour flight, God reminded me of how He had directed my steps over the past years. I began to jot down a formula He brought to my mind. I have used this idea numerous times to help church planters construct a strategy. It is exciting to watch a leader replace a strategy pirated from another context with one spoken directly to his heart from the King.
The effectiveness of this concept is dependent on an honest and accurate accounting of three pieces of information: 1) Understanding who I am; 2) Understanding where I am; and 3) Deciding whose I am.
God’s Kingdom Vision = [(S.G. + Pa + Pe) Context3*] A.S.P.
Who are we?
The first phase is understanding who we are as leaders. This is the ‘S.G. + Pa + Pe’ section.
Spiritual Gifts (S.G.) Look at themes in your personal histories; pay attention to steps of faith and where God has shown up in remarkable ways. They often correlate to our weaknesses, not our strengths.
Our personalities (Pa) are the ‘hard-wiring’ of how we approach the world. It is how we take in information and formulate a reaction. They form the platform on which much of our ministry is built.
Passions (Pe) are the deep places where God lights up His priorities within our spirit. They are unique to us as individuals and often originate from past experiences where we were profoundly touched.
Together, these components form your spiritual, physical and emotional makeup and should answer the question of why God is calling you to a particular context.
Where are we?
The second phase helps us to know where we are. The necessary to effectively develop appropriate strategies are:
Discovering the normative way that a kingdom-seeker in a particular context finds his way to the King. In contexts that have a positive Gospel view, it might be a fairly direct line between the pre-Christian and faith.
If the context does not have a positive view of Christians, the kingdom seeker’s journey often becomes a series of mini-decisions relating to his heart, mind and spirit.
Macro-intelligence gathers critical information to devise a tactical plan of operation. The spiritual history of the landscape you are in will inform you on areas that will need extra spiritual attention. For instance: If the culture has been burned-over with negative exposure to Christianity, the heart objections are generally high. Strategies that aim at the mind or the spiritual resolve will usually be ineffective. The selfless living of believers will engage kingdom seekers, helping the evangelism process speed up, which allows an emotionally healthy leadership base for further ministry.
The contexts where mind barriers are usually found are places that have had little contact with the Gospel, allowing multiple generations to ingrain the doctrines of secularization.
Due to their perspective of ‘what works,’ alternating between teaching the practical benefits of living God’s truth to straightforwardly addressing intellectual objections from a biblical worldview, many kingdom seekers will find an appeal. They are not accustomed to authoritative teaching, combined with a transparent humility, and often become spiritually intrigued.
Reproductive-intelligence considers the findings of micro and macro intelligence, within that framework, to determine a multiplying plan with the fewest cultural barriers.
By going through the first part of this process, model selection becomes much more intuitive. But how will that model best reproduce in your context?
A.S.P. Absolute Surrender in Prayer.
Once time is spent in honest reflection, we begin to see a picture of the kind of kingdom leader God is asking us to become.
We have thought carefully about what it might be like to be a kingdom seeker in the contexts where we live. We have imagined the possible barriers that block people from gaining a clear view of Jesus. And imagined a ministry design that would become a clearly marked path for groups of kingdom seekers in our varied contexts to travel to Jesus.
Taking all this contextual information into account, we began to think about what a church that majored on the kingdom idea of reproduction might look like. Systems well-designed to produce a steady flow of kingdom-centric results measured in new believers, new disciple-makers, new communities of faith, and a transforming effect on our communities.
And this takes us to our third and final exercise. Absolute surrender in prayer.
We lay down everything that we know about ourselves, and everything that we know about our contexts, and declare our exclusive allegiance to the King. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done through me, and in me.”
To shape a new church that becomes a kingdom movement, what you desire above all, is to know your Father’s heart.
Published August 30, 2016