Identifying the kingdom characteristics of a healthy church
There is much discussion about identifying and articulating the culture of our individual local churches. Amid countless innovative trends and strategies, we have to keep a strong grip on the fact that we are carrying out one central mission. Jesus, the head of the church, preached the kingdom of heaven.
As we carry out our mission of building the church He began, there is a “kingdom culture” that must be protected. I love what strategist and author Sam Chand says: “Toxic culture will eat great vision for lunch!” Any senior leader whose great vision has been hijacked by bad attitudes, practices or motives can attest to the fact that a crucial responsibility of leaders is to be guardians of the culture of the ministries we lead.
The Lord’s prayer says, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Ultimately our church culture has to reflect the kingdom of God, but what are some kingdom characteristics of healthy churches?
They go. In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations.” As people, it is our natural tendency to gravitate toward what is comfortable. Jesus is constantly urging His disciples to go; to spread the good news to neighbors, the community and the entire world.
In football, players huddle up, but huddles are meant to be broken so the team can get back in the game and score. Kingdom-minded church culture is not just about huddling up on Sundays; it’s about equipping the team to win the world for Jesus.
They’re generous. They live large! The church is not called to be a can-shaking charity. We serve Jesus, one who gave it all—His very life—for us. As His body we are called to be generous; after all, we carry His DNA. The generosity of Jesus is always made visible in the most practical ways. Whether we demonstrate generosity through missions, community outreach or even by giving free resources, coffee or lunch to our own congregations, these practical expressions reveal the character of Jesus, and the church family is unified.
Generous churches recognize the benefits that come from working together, and they have a large capacity to embrace and combine forces with other ministries, welcoming partnership for a greater kingdom cause. The Association of Related Churches, to which our church belongs, has as its slogan, “We Plant Life.” We do this by pooling finances, ideas and resources so that churches are planted and given the tools to thrive.
They’re next-generation minded. Without compromising the timeless truths of God’s Word, kingdom-minded churches intentionally use technology and engage today’s culture to present God’s Word in a way that attracts unreached people of every age. They stay fresh and up to date, placing worthy value on creating a fun, exciting and attractive atmosphere in their churches. They not only engage today’s members but also develop the future generation of kingdom leaders.
They’re grace-centered. There’s nothing greater than knowing that everything has been paid for—our sins, our past, our healing, our provision for all our needs. The grace of God (not dos and don’ts) leads people to repentance. Kingdom-minded churches are magnetic grace carriers. A culture of acceptance removes all barriers so that sinners are welcomed and redemption is provided through God’s grace.
With a kingdom-minded culture, our local churches will be an unstoppable force, God’s kingdom will advance and the world will be won!
Joe Champion is the founding senior pastor of Celebration Church, a multisite church with campuses in the Austin, Texas, metroplex and in Mozambique, Africa. He serves on the lead team of the Association of Related Churches. He and his wife, Lori, have been married 20 years and have three sons.