“What is best for The Kingdom will always be what is best for your church, but the equation doesn’t work the other way” is a sentence that gets repeated daily with the people and in the place I serve. This is not some new revelation, but it is one that often gets lost in the everyday work of pastoring.
The seminary I attended did a masterful job of ingraining in me a Kingdom mindset. The images, power, and words of Jackie Pullinger at a Kingdom Conference during my M.Div years are as fresh now as then. The classroom experience, the diversity of the student body, the spirit of the E. Stanley Jones School that permeates the whole seminary ethos, the heritage of Francis Asbury, the statue of Wesley at the center of the campus are all constant reminders that we are sent to the world to announce the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
But, all of those reminders are at a great distance from most of the places we are sent to announce that Kingdom. And so, in our isolated hamlets we go about the business of ministry, of hospital calls, and sermon preparation, and budgets and counseling and we begin to move into an autopilot mode of leading that acquiesces to the demands of the moment. The local church does not do this insidiously or maliciously; they simply devolve into what all human organizations devolve into devoid of (and sometimes in spite of) the leader who will keep them Kingdom focused.
So, to begin to do what is best for the Kingdom is often at odds with long established trends of deciding what is best for the local church. The choice between resources (financial and human) aimed at the local community instead of the local church community is met with resistance because it is about outsiders at the expense of insiders. However, the path to renewal that so many local churches seek is not by making decisions with ourselves in mind, but making them with “those who don’t even come here yet” in mind.
Deciding what is best for the Kingdom and pursuing that will always be what is right for your local church; but the church that makes decisions for its own sustaining will abandon the heritage of announcing the Kingdom that makes it worth sustaining.
BUT…If we will do what is right for the Kingdom of Christ, it will always be what is right for your church.