If the goal of a new church is to be relevant, edgy and grow quickly to a place of self-sufficiency, then a thoughtful discussion on ‘church’ is all that is required. But, if the goal of a new church is to appeal to the spiritual cravings of the lost, and introduce them to Jesus Christ – then a soul-searching, gut-wrenching discussion on ‘Kingdoms’ becomes essential.
Have you ever wondered about what Jesus meant when He spoke of both light and darkness in the life of a person? And why did He follow up the light and darkness theme with a divine declaration that His followers can only serve one of two masters?
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:22-24
For a church planter, as with every disciple, our actions and decisions are inspired by one of two spiritual sources. We are for Him or against Him.
Undoubtedly, Jesus wanted the first church planters, and those to follow, to grasp the significance of the Kingdoms we occupy. To Jesus, everything is light and darkness. Just because I claim to be a sacred spokesman for God or started a trendy church, doesn’t mean I automatically advance the Kingdom of God.
Evidently, the Kingdom of God doesn’t advance through ‘church,’ even a brand new one, but only through the counter-cultural faithful steps from a grateful people to their Sovereign King. Sacred institutions are no exception to rule. The masters in whom the church pays allegiance, clearly indicates the Kingdom it is advancing.
Evidently, the Kingdom of God doesn’t advance through ‘church,’ even a brand new one, but only through the counter-cultural faithful steps from a grateful people to their Sovereign King.
And so, every decision I make as a church planter, and lead a new church to corporately make, is actually spiritual. Spiritual forces inspire us to pursue one of two diametrically opposed paths. These are not equal spiritual forces, but they are exclusive in their demands and directions they are moving.
Darkness persuades us to save ourselves by serving ourselves, but light calls us to immediate faith. It reminds us of the essence of our relationship with God and inspires us to continue walking in the manner in which we began this relationship. Consolidation, even for a season, is a term without faith, and therefore a season of dark spiritual disconnection.
Darkness persuades us to save ourselves by serving ourselves, but light calls us to immediate faith.
The Kingdom-centric church holds as its highest value the redemptive mission of God. It understands the difference between tools (worship services, buildings, staff) and purpose (becoming a rescuing and restoring community). It holds its sacred forms loosely and grips its eternal purpose tightly. It understands all churches have a start date and an expiration date. No local church is eternal. However, it also understands that Kingdom expansion has eternal affect.
For the church planter, Kingdom expansion should be the exclusive motivation for planting a new church. As the leader begins to ponder through the spiritual and practical implications involved in ‘Kingdom First,’ he begins to naturally drift away from the church being primarily an ‘event’ to the church being primarily an ‘influence.’ He begins to think from the perspective of the spiritually uninitiated and sympathizes with the reasons of their disenchantment with ‘organized religion.’
For the church planter, Kingdom expansion should be the exclusive motivation for planting a new church.
He also begins to take note of the Kingdom impulse he sees amongst his un-churched friends and neighbors. These observations start to shape the priorities he envisions for the future church. The idea of ‘making disciples’ no longer starts with church members and guided Bible studies, but with neighbors and women’s shelters and transparent conversations. His idea of church has exploded outside of its sacred form.
The King is fully in charge.
Published September 8, 2015