Cultivating the Kingdom

David Fitch (www.reclaimingthemission.com) writes about the impact of church turnover. He quotes Darrell Guder as saying “stop looking at visitors as new members – instead ask ‘what purpose God has for sending these persons here?’”.  Fitch argues that our focus should be about Kingdom growth and not our own church growth. He says that each time we spend time with someone entering or leaving the church body  we are building the Kingdom. Turnover is to be expected, but it should not be dismissed. It’s the opportunity to be used to build His Kingdom.

Old ground, maybe.  But he does give some helpful pointers:

1. Be intentional about calling people into the Kingdom.
Each visitor, each person becoming part of the church community, needs to be nurtured into life in the Kingdom. The pastors and leaders should take regular time to sit, have coffee, and listen and call people into this life of allowing Jesus to reign in our lives and the life of our church, and to discern the marvellous things He is doing in and around us that we can participate in. 

Each time someone gets this, it joins the church body into a more cohesive social unit that God can reign in and over to do His miraculous work of His Kingdom.

Get together with any people hanging out with the church and ask nurturing questions: Where is God working in your life? How are you submitting to the King and seeing His work flourish in and among your life?

2. Be cautious about people who leave saying “I didn’t get this particular need met.”
I think we need to listen. We need to take note of the issues we’re not dealing with that prompted this person to leave. But pastors can get so caught up in taking care of people’s needs, building programs that appeal to people’s needs (so they won’t leave) that take care of what people think they need or their children need, and in the end we leave little space for God to work in power among us for His Kingdom.

We end up just maintaining our …. consumer lives.

When we call people into the Kingdom life, the “so much more” beyond immediate self focused need, some people will leave. But as long as we’ve done the job of humbly pastorally directing people into the life in His reign, then I’ve got to be all right with that.

……

4. Use people’s neediness to direct them into the Kingdom.
Calling people into the Kingdom means using people’s desires for immediate solutions to their problems to call them into God’s Kingdom. We must help people see that any want or need will never ultimately be fulfilled (only temporarily satiated) by a certain programme or approach to church. 

For those who seek ready made fellowship, we need to nurture the incredible community that happens when just a few of us gather in submission to Christ to look for His Kingdom work, and pray and enter in (think Acts 2).

For those who seek a better job or more job satisfaction, we need to nurture the incredible job satisfaction that comes from seeing one’s job as the arena for God to work in us to transform the world in Christ.

For those seeking a better children’s ministry to keep their children/teenagers happy or content, we need to nurture a community that does not entertain children, but trains them, into a way of being in the world where Jesus is Lord  (not them or their immediate desires). Once they experience this incredibly full and peaceful world, any thing else will seem shallow and this will mean a lot in the years to come.

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