Last Sunday night I preached Luke 8:1-3. The message was entitled “The Marks of Kingdom Ministry.” Those three verses formed what I thought at first to be quite an obscure text, one that for a preacher seems to take a little extra effort to get off the page. Well, through my study it became very obvious that this was no obscure text – as it never is! The text gripped me and gave me a glimpse of the well-marked priorities of ministry.
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided out of their means.
As we learned in Luke 6 during our study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Christians are part of the Kingdom of God. That is to say, Jesus is King and Christians are his people under his rule.
We should then think of the church as a kingdom outpost. A place where the authority of Christ rest upon the people of God. Therefore, local church ministry rightly understood is ultimately Kingdomministry. We are about advancing, or building,God’s Kingdom.
If you were to ask, “What kind of ministry do strive to have at Coats Baptist?” The answer would be simple, it’s a Kingdom-kind of ministry. The kingdom of Christ shapes our ministry. Such ministry is one that seeks not to build our own kingdom, but one that seeks to build Jesus’ Kingdom. It is vitally important that churches keep that vision in the forefront. Any ministry that is going to advance the gospel must be Christ-centered and Kingdom-focused.
We often say that we are a “Great Commission Church.” Yes, that’s right. We seek to make and multiply disciples for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. Those two themes, Great Commission and God’s Kingdom always go together. Such a ministry is ultimately in line with God’s redemptive plan for the world, not simply our desires for our church. That is to say, we want to get on board with what God is doing around the globe. One of the best ways to do that is to be a church that prioritizes the Great Commission in every aspect of ministry. God is calling churches to continually evaluate themselves that they might be aligned with his agenda to build his Kingdom and accomplish his mission.
So, what are the marks of a Kingdom-kind of ministry, the type of ministry that seeks to advance what God is advancing and builds what God is building. The biblical conviction here is as simple as it is profound: If we focus on the depth of our ministry, God will handle the breadth of our ministry. We are then to concern ourselves with quality, and let God take care of quantity.
THE PRIMACY OF PREACHING
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.
Jesus was a healer, but he was first a preacher. Jesus believed in preaching, he lived for preaching. It is no overstatement to say that the leading theme of Jesus’s ministry was that of preaching. Therefore, church should seek to be preaching churches. Churches become what they celebrate. God makes much of the church that puts the emphasis where God puts the emphasis – namely the preaching of the gospel. It is true that churches who make the biggest kingdom impact put a priority on both being able to articulate and to disseminate the gospel to others. They must know the gospel, and know it well, if they are to major on the gospel.
God builds his church around the pulpit. Churches that seek to advance the gospel, will inevitably, and most sweetly, find that the gospel advances the church. A kingdom-kind of ministry dispenses the gospel in every opportunity, because the people of God have a common conviction – the world needs the gospel.
THE CULTURE OF DISCIPLESHIP
And the twelve were with him,
Kingdom-kind of ministry is serious about making disciples (followers of Jesus), not through simply through programs but through a posture of life. Throughout the gospel narratives, Jesus is seen spending time with twelve key men. Just twelve. Jesus changed the world through twelve men, and he had no program, no curriculum. He was the program! He discipled with his life.
There’s a lesson here for us as well. Churches don’t need another discipleship program, they need disciples bought in to making other disciples through life-on-life discipleship. Multiplying disciples starts with teaching other men and women the Bible, then helping them get biblical theology into the cracks of their lives, so that the Word of God might take root and produce a harvest. Please do not misunderstand, God can use a program. We need certain programs. But may the advancement of God’s Kingdom never be contingent upon a program.
THE PRESENCE OF THE SUPERNATURAL
and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Kingdom ministry is one that only God can do through you by his Spirit. Such a ministry requires spiritual attention. Kingdom ministry cannot be done in human strength. Kingdom-kind of ministry requires the resources of heaven. It’s that plain and simple. Spiritual work requires a spiritual means. Never forget that. Churches are not running a donut stand. They are not selling bicycles. No, faithful, biblical, Christ-centered churches are engaged in spiritual ministry. Therefore, prayer, holiness, disciplines, are some of the common themes found in churches saturated by the Spirit of God. Those are the same churches that when their community looks their way, respond with a sense of awe saying, “only God can do that.”
Mary, she was demon possessed. Don’t ever forget that either. That’s a transition that only God can do. It comes as a reminder that those who have received the greatest ministry, are the ones who will in turn extend themselves towards the greatest for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Time and again we see the Kingdom is impacted by those who have been impacted by the Kingdom. Let that sink in. Such a Kingdom ministry will change the culture of the church. People who have been changed by the gospel join the church, and over time such a church will only have eyes for Jesus. That’s the ticket. People whose mess has met its match in the King Jesus.
THE LEVERAGING OF RESOURCES
and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided out of their means.
Kingdom-kind of ministry still takes resources. But praise God he is faithful to raise up a generous people to serve as a means of support for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Whether it’s financial, material or just plain time in the trench, the Kingdom of God advances by the support of the “Joannas and Susannas” of this world. Have you ever considered joining their ranks?
Here’s why: Kingdom-kind of ministry is bigger than we are, and will outlast us. To be a part of something like that is worth giving you to see grow. Remember, Jesus did something in three years that obviously outlasted his life. We too want to be a part of a ministry that will be here when we are gone. If you build your kingdom, it will die with you. If you build his Kingdom, it will never die. After all, Jesus isalive!
Kingdom ministry is exciting. To build God’s kingdom means you are building what he is building. You are working alongside him. Therefore, churches involved in Kingdom ministry should expect God to want for them what they’ve never experienced before. I find that especially exhilarating. So, are you in? Let’s do ministry the Kingdom-kind of way. Brick by brick, let’s get to building.