Here’s the thing .. Jesus said “I will build my church ..” and then He commanded the disciples to go and extend the Kingdom the way He’d showed them over nearly two years; by healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead etc.
Notice this .. Jesus said “I” and “my”. HE’S the builder of the church, NOT us! Our only role is to extend His Kingdom. That will always be through incarnational acts such as social justice, the healing of the sick, liberating the oppressed, feeding the hungry, loving the hurting, but it is still the ONLY thing we were commanded to do .. extend His Kingdom.
So let me ask you .. why is that we pray “God, extend your Kingdom” while we are busy building the church? I think we’ve got it all wrong and at some point someone is going to wise up and put the horse back in front of the cart.
Firstly, “God, extend your Kingdom” isn’t a prayer He can answer because He commanded US to extend His Kingdom on His behalf. Second, when will someone realise that, in the main, we do a really crappy job of building HIS church?? If that weren’t so, why haven’t we had the impact that Jesus had in His day? Remember, He did say we’d do what He did and even greater (better). I ask like Jerry Maguire .. “SHOW ME THE RESULTS!?!”
By now you’re probably asking “Well, how DOES a church get built?” The answer: I DON’T KNOW! Because it’s not my place to know. It is only my place to extend God’s Kingdom.
“Alright then”, (you’re probably thinking by now), “how do I do that AND see the church grow?” Aah .. good question.
The extension of God’s Kingdom takes place primarily in the hearts of men and women. When hearts change, people begin to gather around the relationships they hold most dear; the primary one now being with God.
When people gather around a desire to meet with each other and with God, and that desire extends to wanting others to experience this genuine heart change that has added so much richness to their own lives, (voila!) you have God at work building a church!
However, could it be that Christ building His church and us extending His Kingdom are so tightly tied together that one influences the other? Could it be that the minute we stop wanting others to share in the richness of these relationships, we’ve stopped extending God’s Kingdom?
Could it then be that if we stop extending, He stops building?
George Barna said in the “State of the Church 2002″, an update on the health and vitality of the American church, that in the two decades to 2002, the Catholic and Protestant church combined had literally spent almost one trillion dollars on its perceived mission, but that “there has been no measurable increase in one of the expressed purposes of the church”.
Think about that. Almost a trillion dollars spent by the church in only twenty years in just one country with nothing to show for it!! That is frightening.
He further goes on to say in his “State of the Church 2005″ that “Nothing is more numbing to the Church than the fact that it is mired in a rut of unfathomable depths. The various creative approaches attempted over the course of this decade have drawn much attention but produced little, if any, transformational impact.”
We hear it so often .. church is not about the building or the program, it’s about people. Yet we continue to invest all our time and money into maintaining the building and pushing the program and we forget the need to touch people .. REALLY touch people .. not just add them to our “books”.
When will we ever learn?