|A Kingdom Mindset is What We Need|
|By: Bill Easum|
|The other day a church planter told me “Now that we are up and running and growing we’ve had several churches in the area say: ‘Hey, it looks like we’re in competition now.’ No one seemed to worry about us when we were just starting but once we went public and began to build a base, the surrounding churches began to see use as competition.”
Aside from the fact that Christians can never be in competition, three things bother me about this conversation.
• First, a reactionary, protectionist mindset such as described is obviously not born from a Kingdom mentality. Oh, let me go further – that mindset isfar from the Kingdom. I worry about people like that. They do not seem to have gotten Jesus’ message about making disciples of all people groups. No one church can do that. It takes all of us, not in competition, but in collaboration. Shame on that person for even thinking competition.
I’ve heard this conversation many times. And I’ve noticed that most of the churches that fear competition are declining. They are declining because of their non-Christian mindset. They need to change it.
• Second, most existing churches expect church planters to fail because they cannot conceive of the need for more churches in their area. They blame their decline on the public. These churches never consider their attitude might be the cause of their decline. If that is the attitude of your church, remind them of the story of Paul at Mars Hill where he demonstrates for us that you can be grounded in the Bible and culturally relevant at the same time.
• Third, and this is where it gets sticky – most pastors today have never grown anything so they don’t believe it can be done. And what is worse, they are surprised when the church plant down the block is successful while their church is dying.
The church I left after twenty-four years has less than a fifth of the people who were worshipping when I left. The decline was caused by an extremely stupid clergy appointment by a Bishop who wanted to make the church into his image, coupled with that same pastor having an affair with another staff member.
People are always asking me if the decline of that church doesn’t make me feel bad. My answer seems to surprise them – “Not at all. I know that every Christian in that church is worshipping somewhere and it doesn’t matter where.” That’s a Kingdom mindset.
In the same way pastors tell me, “Why should I spend my life building up a church, when the next pastor will probably tear it down?” My response is always the same – “You’re not responsible for what happens when you leave. Besides, the growth of the church is not what’s at stake. What’s at stake is the lives of non-Christians who find Christ no matter what church they wind up in.
Now, what’s a pastor to do in light of these three issues? First, to be a Kingdom person you must realize that Matthew 28 and Acts 1:8 apply directly to you and your church. God gives no exceptions to this principle – all of us are called to be Kingdom people. Kingdom people give their lives to reach people for Christ and they NEVER worry about competition. Instead they relish the presence of more churches; they welcome them; they pray for more churches.
Folks, develop a Kingdom mindset. Don’t try to grow a church. Grow people who follow Jesus. That’s all God asks of you. That’s a Kingdom mindset.