This is the other blog I wanted to write prior to beginning our vision casting series. I have written about a similar topic before in a previous blog but this idea keeps coming up for different reasons and at different times. The question is: “Whose Kingdom Are We Building?” You could answer this question in many different ways and based on many different perspectives but we are going to focus on what this means to those of us who are followers of Christ. Even in this specific context there are many different paths one could take in answering the question, but our goal should ALWAYS be the same:
To Build the Kingdom of GOD and Not Our Own!
At this point, you may be thinking that this does not apply to you because you are not even close to having something that even resembles a kingdom here on earth. This, however, is not the point. The point is whose glory is the focus of our lives because the answer to that question shows us whose kingdom we are interested in building. Think about it, if our lives focus on glorifying our children, it is their kingdom that we will build. If our lives focus on glorifying ourselves, it is our own kingdom that we will build. If our lives focus on glorifying money, power, or a good job then it is, again, our own kingdom that we will build and ALWAYS at the expense of building the only Kingdom that matters. The same principle applies to our churches and ministries. Who does your church seek to glorify? Does your church seek to glorify the pastor, the community, social projects, politics, or even the church itself? It is our job as individuals to focus our lives on bringing glory to GOD and it is the church’s job to lead its members to do the same.
So the question then becomes, “How do we know what or who we glorify?” Let’s partake in a little exercise together. No one answer can determine whose glory we seek, but answering each of these questions honestly can help us to understand if we are truly glorifying GOD right now.
How do I spend the majority of my time?
How do I spend the majority of my money?
What am I the most passionate about?
Do I spend time reading the Bible and praying?
What do I think about throughout the day?
In the same way, we need to ask similar questions about our churches and in my case the ministry that I run. I will tell you that it is really easy to assume you are following GOD if you work in a church or run a ministry. I believe it is possibly one of the easiest ways we can be deceived as pastors and leaders is through complacency. I will admit that there have been times both personally, as a pastor, and as the leader of All Things New that I have just assumed that my spiritual life was ok solely because of what I do. I just assumed that I was building up GOD’s Kingdom when in reality I could have been using my position in GOD’s Kingdom to build my own Kingdom. That is never a place I want to be, it is never a place I want All Things New to be, and it should never be a place you want your church or ministry to be. It is important to ask ourselves some questions about our churches and ministries as well and it is equally important that we answer these questions truthfully. I can promise that, while we will never be a perfect organization, we will strive to be an organization that is in the business of building GOD’s Kingdom and not our own. With that said, how would your church or ministry answer these questions:
Does my church/ministry spend time helping others or focusing on itself?
Does my church/ministry spend money helping others or helping itself?
Is my church’s/ministry’s building fund bigger or smaller than its ministry budget?
Did my church/ministry spend more on buildings or people, activities or people, programs or people?
What is my church’s/ministry’s passion?
What is my church’s/ministry’s reputation in the community?
Again, these are just sample questions and it is definitely not an exhaustive list of how to tell the health of your church/ministry. It is just a guide that hopefully leads us down a path of examining what we are a part of and ensuring the idea that GOD’s Kingdom is more important than our own.
I know I have told this story before, but I want to close with it again just to give you a sense of how we plan on moving forward as an organization. When we first moved to Haiti, our initial goal was to find land that we could purchase with the idea that we would build a nice home and orphanage facilities. After a little time focusing on this goal, we realized that buildings and land would do little more than build the Kingdom of All Things New. It certainly was not what Gressier and its people needed us to do, and it was not the best use of the resources GOD had been blessing us with. At the same time, it was not what our kids needed either. They needed to move into better facilities for sure, but even more than that they needed people who loved them and cared for them and we needed Haitian employees to fill this gap. We realized at that moment that the best thing we could do for the Kingdom of GOD was to find other homes to rent for us and the kids (we can rent at our current rate for over 30 years for the same cost of purchasing land and building) and to focus our resources on building the Kingdom of GOD, not the Kingdom of Matt and Jessica Bush or All Things New. The best way that All Things New can build the Kingdom of GOD is to employ as many people as we can, provide jobs to the surrounding community, love and take care of the children we have been blessed with, have our children join a local church, and begin the process of partnering with pastors and churches to teach discipleship (a goal that we have over the next 2 years). Again, we are far from perfect, and there are many churches and ministries who could best glorify GOD by purchasing land and building and I have no doubt about that. This is just the direction that GOD continues to lead us for now. With the resources we have raised over the past few years, I have no doubt that we could have purchased and built nice facilities by now. If we had done that, however, our kids would not have been cared for like they have, over 30 people would not have had jobs that have allowed them to take care of their families, and we would not have done the job that GOD has called us to do…
Worship Him and build His Kingdom!