Have you ever missed something in conversation? You know, times when you’ve assumed something a person was going to say and not really listened to them well?
Recently, this happened to me during my time with the Lord. I am so accustomed to read the story of the birth of the church in Acts 1, that I rushed past the first few verses to get to the mission of the church in Acts 1:8.
Yet, the mission of the church makes little sense if it is not understood in light of Acts 1:3, where Luke records “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
Did you catch that? After the resurrected Jesus proved that he had defeated sin and death over a period of forty days, He spoke with them about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was the topic of Jesus’ teaching and the goal of the mission of church. Acts 1:8 doesn’t make sense without Acts 1:3
We can miss the point if we aren’t careful believing that church planting is the means and the end, but it’s a means to the end. That end is living for and building the kingdom of God.
What does it mean to live and lead for the kingdom of God?
First, you will walk in the awareness that Jesus has purchased you by His grace and goodness and that this Church belongs to Him. This isn’t about expanding your brand or allowing your identity to be found in the church. You plant a church, but Jesus’ builds, sustains, and grows the church. Your Heavenly Father loves you, is pleased with you and is confirming you and your church into his image. You are in Christ—let that wash over you everyday. Where do you find your worth and value? Whose Kingdom are you trying to build?
You will define ministry success as doing the will of God. You will have to do as Jesus did when He walked the earth and humbly rely on the Heavenly Father. This means He slowed down enough to hear from His Father and obey Him in all things. You must not hurry through the mission, but be focused on abiding in Jesus. Lasting fruit is the result of this obedience. What’s your definition of ministry success?
You will be focused on addition for the purpose of multiplication. This is what Jesus did as he told the disciples follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. He started with the end goal in mind: that they would multiply themselves. This process would continue on after Jesus left the earth. The continuation of the church to this day is a testimony of the multiplication of disciples through the generations.
This will take longer, but trust me when I say it well worth it. This produces healthy disciples who will make more disciples. What’s your end goal?
You will celebrate with other churches of all of types of denominations who are advancing the Kingdom and agenda of Jesus. We are all on the same team. This is what Jesus prayed for in John 17. What’s your response when God is using another Church in your area to reach people and make disciples?
Consider the implications of the goal of church planting for your church mission and your personal leadership. Repent from building your own Kingdom according to your design and as your identity. Ask your Heavenly father to deepen your trust and dependence on Him. He loves you too much to allow you to miss the point.
A prayer that has helped me stay kingdom-focused is one Jesus prayed: ”Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” May this prayer be fulfilled in your life and in your church until Jesus returns.
Published August 15, 2016