Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We need a kingdom vision, not just a church vision

In doing some research for a paper on evangelism and Spiritual gifts, I came across this great quote by Howard Synder:

"When Christians catch a vision of the Kingdom of God, their sight shifts to the poor, the orphan, the widow, the refugee, the wretched of the earth, to God's future—to the concerns of justice, mercy and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world."
The Kingdom of God is God's rule over his people and the world, which is broader than the church. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says to pray, "You kingdom come, your will be done." This is a case of Hebrew parallelism, in which these two lines mean the same thing. That is, God's kingdom is about his will being done (his rule), which includes love, justice, and righteousness. What we desire is for God's will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven, and the church partners with God in accomplishing his will. In other words, we are part of a mission that is larger than ourselves. Church is not the ultimate goal--God's kingdom rule is the ultimate goal.

When we understand this, we will stop having a bunker mentality, in which we withdraw from the world. Instead, we will realize that fundamental to our purpose is going out into the world and transforming it. Evidence of a church focus rather than a kingdom focus is a lack of evangelism, evangelism without service, lack of care about the community, or making non-evangelistic numbers the focus. When we care about the kingdom, and serve and share the good news with the lost, numbers will result. Lost people are not dumb--they can tell if we truly care about them and the world around them, or if we just want our attendance to go up.

See Snyder, Howard, A. Liberating the Church. Downers Grove, 111.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983, 11.

Do you think most churches have a church focus or a kingdom focus?

6 comments:

Kim S said...

James,
This is exactly what I am going to miss most about you and Beckie when you leave. I know what you have talked about here is so essential and I pray that when you take this new positon that we will be able to keep this vision strong here at our church.
I especially like what is said about how "Chuch people think about how to get people into the church, Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world."

jerry said...

James
May God be with your family as you move and with the family in Liberty as you leave.

Thanks for the post today - it is important for the church to have a strong vision to reach our communities. Keep the passion and the vision.

keep praying, seeking and serving

Hide Guy said...

Most of us are trained or by default have a church view as described, which is not a bad thing. However, if broadened to a kingdom view as described in this post a more the kingdom AND the church benefit from our going out into the world and reaching others. So, we should look to broaden our view rather than remain in "the bunker" with the bunker mentality. You have been instrumental in helping us to look outside the bunker during your time here.

James said...

Kim,

It will be up to people like you to keep this vision strong. Share this vision with others. Stress the importance of this to other members and to the leadership. And pray that God will send you someone who can help continue this vision.

James said...

Jerry,

Thank you for thoughts. We will indeed be praying that God is with us.

James said...

Hide Guy,

You make a great point that both the church and the kingdom benefit when we go out into the world. Most of the things that people say that they are looking for--community, friendship, spiritual growth--happens when we do mission together.

I'm glad that you feel we've been helpful in looking "outside the bunker." The spirit of this congregation has really grown, and I believe that this outward focus will continue. This is my prayer!