When we look at church planting movements around the world, or when we look at healthy reproducing churches here in our own country, one of the first things we notice is that these churches and these leaders have a larger “kingdom perspective,” a kingdom-of-God oriented focus that is backing and fueling the work they are doing.
Are you Drifting?
As pastors, none of us willingly or knowingly drift from a larger kingdom focus. We’re not purposely moving away or turning from what God is doing. But it is so easy to only see what’s going on in your own life, your own small group, your own church—and completely miss the really great stuff God is up to just down the street.
Yet, when we think about it, It’s not about the church’s kingdom; it’s about God’s Kingdom. It’s not about the pastors’ name and fame; it’s about Jesus’ name and fame. And I’ve found it takes a proactive approach, specific intentionality to adopt and live into a larger kingdom focus.
We tend to think, “Not me! I’m not going to miss God’s activity.” But look around you. Are you seeing and participating in what’s going on in your larger community and the larger global church? Are you open-handed with your leaders, training them up and sending them out to do kingdom work? Are you reproducing? If not, you’re probably drifting. Take a look around, see where you’re at, and then decide to adjust.
Don’t miss what’s happening under your nose
As I have the opportunity to talk with church planters whose church plants didn’t make it, I’m listening for what they learned about following Jesus on their journey. I’ve heard a very similar theme over and over again. Their pride kept them from participating with what God was doing. They had a preconceived idea of what God was going to do and when it didn’t look like that, they missed the good stuff.
In Matthew 11, John the Baptist is in prison, things get hard, and even he begins to doubt. Like this, It can be really easy for us to miss what God is doing even when it’s right under our noses. I love the way Jesus lovingly, through the disciples, re-points John back to seeing what the father is doing. Similarly, we have to stop putting God in a box and expand of our perspective of how God could be moving.
Laying down our little kingdoms to embrace a bigger kingdom vision
In order to embrace a larger Kingdom vision, we will probably have to let go of something we’re holding onto. It could be some of our best leaders, or perhaps a vision we deeply cherish. We’ll definitely need to try some new things along the way. And we have to learn to recognize what God is doing especially when it looks different than we’ve come to expect.
What might it mean for you and I to more fully embrace a larger kingdom perspective in each of our unique contexts?
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About the Author
Michael Gatlin co-pastors, with his wife Brenda, the Vineyard church in Duluth, Minnesota. Michael also leads the Multiply Vineyard team which exists to encourage and empower local churches as they multiply disciples, leaders, and churches. Michael’s primary focus is to see Vineyard churches be healthy and multiply. His passion is helping people to discover and express all that God created them to be. When he’s not riding his motorcycle, Michael loves to spend time with his family, read, create art, or even take some time to play a little music.