Learn the Secrets of Building Christian Kingdom Communities
Here you will find training help and resources for individuals and groups that desire to live in Kingdom community. The focus of this blog is to concentrate on practical advice that helps groups with the execution of their Christian life together. It’s purpose is to increase the population of Kingdom communities, and to teach them how to function together in a healthy manner.
Summary: If Christ is to be the functional Head of church meetings, the people will need training and practice at the beginning. To do this, they need a facilitator (not a positional leader) that will gently guide the process until they are ready to do it on their own.
If Christians are going to ever learn how to function as a body in our culture, to have full participatory meetings when they come together that exude that all believers are priests unto God, to truly treat each other as equals functionally, to make sure everyone involved in the Church has a say in decisions that affect them, and to come to full consensus before decisions are made (the Kingdom’s way), they need to be trained how to do it. For a long time. And they need to practice…hard.
New small groups need equipped
Sorry. A group can’t just get together and say “Now tonight we’re going to let Jesus be the Head of the Church and guide us in our meeting.” While the intentions are right, the execution likely won’t be. You can’t just give or hear a sermon series on Christ and His body and voila!, put it into practice right away. Theologically, the motive is right and you’ll learn some things. But if you try to practice what’s being preached without first being equipped, you’re in for a disaster.
Most people aren’t very good at listening to others, or the Lord. Some people talk too much. Some people don’t talk enough. Some people will always try and fix others. Some will take you down never-ending bunny trails because it feels good to share. Some will carry fears that keep them from sharing at all. Some will come with an agenda. Some will come with a need to be the celebrity of the group.
The issues that keep Christ from being the functional Head of gatherings are many. Unless someone is there at the beginning who is equipped to facilitate an atmosphere that doesn’t allow these issues to grab a hold of a group, fuhgeddaboudit! You might think the meeting went well, but it’s likely nothing compared to what it could have been if everyone’s issues yielded to Christ. Eventually, you want a group to get to a point where they can do this on their own. But, it doesn’t happen just because you want it to. It doesn’t happen because you told the group to do it.
For the past 8 months, I’ve been writing about the Church as a family. We’ve lost sight of this practice in our culture, but the Lord is bringing it back. Some are calling it the 2nd Reformation. The first Reformation was about correct theology. The 2nd is about correct practice. Here are the links to each post, along with their summaries. May the contents change our mindsets about how to live the Christian life together. But more importantly, may it change our behavior.
Kingdom community is the soil in which discipleship should take place. Because we live in an individualistic culture, it’s hard to find Kingdom community. But if we catch the vision for how we are meant to live collectively, we can be instruments that bring back a Kingdom community way of life to our culture.
Humans were designed to operate in the context of family. American culture has abandoned this mindset. Until family (physical and spiritual) is once again first priority, we’ll have tremendous difficulty understanding and practicing the Christian life.
A Christian’s spiritual brothers and sisters are supposed to be the most important relationships in their life. But to understand what that means practically, you have to understand what the sibling relationship was like in the culture in which the Church was born.
Summary: The Church has a leadership problem. It mirrors the world. Theologically, Christ is the Head. But not functionally. Until She gets back to organic Kingdom leadership principles, She will be largely ineffective in Her mission.
In the last post, we learned that current Christian preaching and practice focuses almost exclusively on the individual. But the gospel is more than that. It’s the creation of one new man. For the church to be effective, it must reverse the dominant cultural mindset and behave like one new man.
But if it’s going to do so, it must address and correct its problem with how it handles and executes leadership. Currently, it’s in a passionate love affair with the world’s top-down hierarchical leadership model that undermines everything the Church was created to be about. As Joseph Hellerman points out in When the Church Was a Family…
…the problem rests with both the number of leaders and the nature of leadership…the two principles God has given for leadership in His surrogate family are plurality leadership and servant leadership…these provide safeguards against functional, spiritual and relational disaster… (paraphrased)
There are no human heads
Christians concede that Christ is the Head of the Church, but only theoretically. He is also meant to be the Head practically or functionally. This means there’s no humans between us and Him on the authority ladder. What’s that you say? Weren’t there leaders in the early church? Aren’t there supposed to be pastors, elders, etc.? Why yes, but not in the way that you’ve become accustomed to where they’re stacked on top of each other in a hierarchical manner. That’s the world’s way of doing things, not the Kingdoms.
In a righteous Kingdom, there are no special classes of citizens. There’s the King and there are citizens. Every citizen has the same access and standing with the King as any other. A good King does not show favoritism, but makes Himself and His resources available to all. Christ is a good King.
Summary: Current Christian preaching and practice focuses almost exclusively on the individual. But the gospel is more than that. It’s the creation of one new man. For the church to be effective, it must reverse the dominant cultural mindset and behave like one new man.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much absent from the average American church. For the most part, what is preached when it comes to entering the Christian life focuses on only part of the truth. It focuses on the individual. I am not saying that salvation is not an individual decision or experience. It is. But, it’s not only that. It’s more than that.
We preach individual salvation
We’ve fallen for…
an American Christian paradigm that understands salvation to have everything to do with how the individual relates to God and nothing to do with how we relate to one another…in our typical gospel presentations, we introduce God’s family only as sort of a utilitarian afterthought – church is there to help us grow in our newfound faith in Christ. (When the Church Was a Family)
This is odd given the fact that when a person becomes a Christian, they are transferring their allegiance from the world to the Kingdom. They are inheriting a new spiritual family of brothers and sisters who are to be first priority in their lives. Only once in the New Testament is the word “savior” connected to an individual (Luke 1:47).
Why do we emphasize the personal side of salvation and neglect the corporate side? It’s what happens when you filter the world through the lens of individualism. It’s what interprets the meaning of things for you. It’s what tells you what’s important. And we’re drinking that water.
Summary: The spread of Christianity hinges on behavior, not beliefs. The current American lifestyle and the institutions that serve it don’t provide Christians with the opportunity to truly behave like Christians. In order to change this, Christians have to be trained to live like healthy families.
In the last post, we learned the apostle Paul pointed out 4 major characteristics of healthy families in his writings in the New Testament – affection, unity, sharing and loyalty. In a healthy Kingdom community, these characteristics will be consistently and frequently present.
Beliefs don’t cause growth
In fact, it was these characteristics that caused the Church to grow and expand in the first place. The society that it was born into was passionately pagan. By default, people believed in many gods and called Christians “athiests” because they didn’t also believe in those gods. As you know, they were even killed for their beliefs. So obviously their beliefs were not what caused the movement to grow. Instead, take a look at how Joseph Hellerman describes it in When the Church Was a Family…
To arrive at a truly comprehensive explanation for the expansion of Christianity, we must move beyond ideology (beliefs) and enter into the social world (behavior) of the early Christians. We must understand how Christians related with one another and with their pagan neighbors.