So, what is of first importance? When it comes to ministry, what is to be of priority? Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, in response to a lack of faith manifested through worry: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...." I suppose Jesus could have said a lot of things to seek first. Seek salvation, seek family, seek love, seek justice, seek the church, seek me. Yet, the kingdom really encompasses all that and more.
The kingdom has to do with the rule and reign of God in this world. It is distinguished from the church in that the church has to do with the people within God's rule. The church, then, might be said to be the means to the end of establishing God's kingdom rule, and is not a cul-de-sac where we just try to get people to attend church services. The kingdom may be said to be a broader concept than the church because it aims at nothing less than the complete control of all manifestations of life. It represents the dominion of God in every sphere of humanity.
Here is how it works (ideally!): The church proclaims the gospel and brings people into the church. New believers then begin to enjoy all the blessings of God's kingdom rule in their lives: victory over sin and the availability of the power of the Holy Spirit. If we lose sight of the kingdom of God, we become insular and think that our particular church or Christian organization is the goal of ministry, and that issues outside our ministry have no real merit for our attention. Apart from the kingdom, the systemic problems surrounding justice, racial reconciliation, and poverty all take a backseat to personal expressions of faith in my limited sphere of doing my own thing, man.
When it comes to any particular church, denomination, or para-church ministry, if we have a kingdom mindset, we desire to see God's reign expand across our community and we will work collaboratively to see this realized. Then it does not become “my” ministry and “your” ministry, but our ministry. It is no longer you and me, but we as kingdom minded people. This takes time and effort. But after all, our focus is to be in seeking first the kingdom as priority for ministry.
How do you think a kingdom mentality would change the face of your life and ministry?