Kingdom Mission doesn’t happen by accident. Here’s what we can do today to participate in God’s Kingdom Mission.
I am a bi-vocational church planter. In my day job I own a marketing agency that helps business leaders grow their organizations.
When I sit down with my clients I start by asking them where they want their business to be in two years and then where they want it to be in five years.
When they tell me where they want to be in two years, it is about survival and growth – 50% revenue increases, a dollar net income figure, adding locations and services, etc. When they tell me about their five year goals, however, they start talking about their passions – the things that come from their heart and drives their desire to grow and work.
I ask these same questions when I sit down with church planters.
When church planters tell me that they want to have a growing congregation that is self-sustaining in two years, it is about survival. They want to make enough money as an organization to pay their bills and allow the pastor to work for the church full time.
When I ask what they want in five years, either they say things like ‘bigger’, ‘more impact’, ‘more staff’, ‘more missions focus’, and the like, or they simply have no idea what they want.
Without clarity about the telos – the eventual end goal – the intermediate goals and the daily work are not clear.
Six months before we launched Redemption Hill, I was sitting at the Exponential Conference in Orange County and God was starting to shift my vision. I knew I was called to plant a church, and I thought it was about building a great organization. A healthy place for kingdom impact in a neighborhood. To grow and raise resources to spend on impact in the city…things like that.
That wasn’t a bad vision, but if it doesn’t grow, it would become toxic. If our ministry is about growing our influence, our impact, or our organization, it is ultimately about us. The gravitational pull is towards our internal community. Even outreach and mission become an expression of our virtue – a percentage of our wealth rather than a sacrificial investment.
Jesus’ words in John 12:24-26 could be said to us like this:
“Truly I say to you, unless a CONGREGATION dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit. Congregations who love their [community, building, programs] lose it, and congregations who hate their [community, building, programs] in this world will keep them for eternal life.”
As my vision started to shift, I asked a different question: How can I reach a whole city? How can I reach a whole region? How can I reach a whole country?
I don’t think it is my responsibility to make all those things happen on my own, but as a strategic question, it changed the vision for our church plant. We started to think about long term impact beyond the doors of our congregation. These words started to stick in my head that I heard at Exponential: “My fruit will grow on other people’s trees.” I realized I was supposed to make leaders who could multiply the kingdom mission beyond the doors of my leadership. Beyond the impact of our congregation.
Unless a congregation dies to itself, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.
What if Jesus was talking to not just us as individuals, but as a movement? What if living to preserve the institutions that we built will keep us from making an eternal impact? Jesus understood how to build a movement, and it wasn’t through great organizational leadership. It wasn’t through institutional longevity. It wasn’t through crowds, wealth, resource hoarding, and buildings. Jesus spent 70% of His time doing one thing: training and discipling twelve young people to own the vision and mission of the kingdom.
And it worked.
Maybe we shouldn’t just take the teachings of Jesus, but our ministry should look like the methods of Jesus. (see The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman)
So as we started to ask how can we reach a whole city, God impressed on me that most of my time should be developing disciples who can lead as apostles, just like Jesus did.
So here’s how I’m trying to pursue that calling:
- My main job is not the crowd. They get 30% of my time, so Sunday prep only gets 30% of my church time. That means 5-7 hours per week including sermon prep.
- Every day my main metric for success and effectiveness centers around the question: how much time did I spend with the people I am training/discipling?
- I identify 8-12 leaders per year whose development I will prioritize; I will seek opportunities to help them grow in their christlikeness, character and competency.
How am I doing at it? Not great every week; but this metric helps me know when I am winning or not winning – when the kingdom is advancing or retreating.
If my fruit grows on other trees, and the Jesus movement is dependent on pouring into other people, I better be tending those other gardens as much as I tend my own.