In last month’s newsletter I talked about how people tend to want a “Nice Christian Church.” People want to come to church and have a level of security that their needs are being met. They want acceptable music, a decent sermon and relationships where they can meet some people to meet their people needs. The challenge is this kind of church often defaults to “being comfortable.” But what if desire for personal comfort doesn’t line up with what God wants?
Every church must wrestle with what does God want for each a local church? It is a complex question. Jesus didn’t focus his early ministry talking about the coming “church” and what it is to be all about. Rather he focused on helping his disciples understand who he was and how they fit into the “Kingdom of God.”
Jesus was the first person to speak the word “church,” yet he outlined His ministry in terms of God’s Kingdom breaking into this world and not into a church building. Look at how Jesus began His ministry: Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 ESV
Jesus framed His ministry in terms of the Kingdom of God, not the church. And yet the church is the Bride of Jesus and we are to love her deeply because Christ loves the church (His Bride). So why is this kingdom issue important to remember as a body of believers? Because if a church does not continue to align itself to what God truly wants, the default is a “comfortable church” that risks forgetting about the church’s mission within the Kingdom of God.
You see, to be aligned with the heart of Christ, we are called to be a church that is equipping people to always be thinking beyond the walls of a church. Alignment means becoming kingdom people who are becoming disciplers of anyone who God puts in our path, either at church or work or play or (fill in the blank). Let me try to explain it farther this way:
- Church-focused people: Have narrow ministry vision and can’t see past church categories for ministry (i.e., usher, greeters, children’s worker, adult workers, etc.) vs. Kingdom-focused people: Have a Kingdom-vision to think/dream/act outside the walls of a church. They desire a vision for their neighborhood, workplace and community which can include the fatherless, people with addictions and hurting marriages.
- Church-focused people: Understand discipleship as primarily about moving one’s self and family toward a closer relationship with God, and therefore place the strong emphasis on spiritual maturity. vs. Kingdom-focused people: Understand discipleship as the call for self and for our families to lose our lives for Christ’s sake, to build a spiritual identity in Christ that propels us to participate in His kingdom mission and… and are actively looking to walk with others, helping them understand the love and greatness of the King of Kings both within and outside of the church.
The bottom line – alignment with God gives us a vision for people beyond our family and even our church family!
More next time!