As a person who has been preaching and attempting to implement strategies, I have come up with the following essentials necessary for effectiveness in kingdom ministry:
1. High-level intercession. In Daniel 10-12 and Ephesians 6, we find that there are high-level demonic entities called principalities that rule whole nations and/or empires. These are the highest-ranking demons under Satan that control the political, economic and social systems of the world through ideology and worldview.
Consequently, I found that when I started preaching the kingdom with a goal of shifting culture toward biblical standards that I walked into the highest level of warfare. This is why God led me to spend much time in deep travail and elicit the prayers of high-level intercessors. If we do not combine kingdom implementation with commensurate effective prayer, we will get our butts kicked! When you preach the kingdom of God, you are dealing with demonic systems, not just individual demons and sinners. Without a proper prayer plan in place, our goals of kingdom implementation will be doomed to fail.
2. Spouse on the same page. Before you make a public shift from preaching merely an individualistic gospel of salvation to the gospel of the kingdom, make sure your spouse understands the spiritual and social implications it will have on your life. If your spouse is not on the same page with you theologically or teleologically (in terms of objective and goals), then the enemy can use this as a wedge that can divide your marriage.
3. Humility in the marketplace. When leaders start making headway implementing successful strategies for the kingdom in their communities, key marketplace leaders in politics and business will latch onto you. You will start moving in circles outside the religious walls of the church and will be in proximity to power, influence and celebrity like never before. Never forget your original vision and what got you there to begin with. Always walk in humility. I have seen countless Christian leaders fall into pride when they started hobnobbing with the rich, influential and famous, resulting in them being transformed by the world instead of vice versa.
4. Strong connection to local church leadership. The local church is the only entity on earth that the devil cannot destroy (Matt. 16:16-19). Leaders and ministers who bypass the local church run the risk of not having long-term fruit. In some cases, high-level marketplace leaders will be connected more with individual apostolic-type pastors who will mentor them, even if they live too far to attend the local church the pastor oversees. In any case, if you want biblical results, then connect your work to a biblical model of discipleship that involves the family of families called the church. Of course, if at all possible, high-level marketplace leaders should attend an apostolic-type church, which is a local church that equips and releases the saints for the work of the ministry by effectively engaging culture and influencing their region holistically.
5. Have a strong covenantal team for support. I have found that I need to have community with those who understand and partner with me in my kingdom calling. I have been blessed to have several close friends I work with, pray with, travel with and play with. Without this mutually beneficial support group, I would have a difficult time persevering in the kingdom marathon I am called to run.
6. Avoid mission drift. It is inevitable that the more successful you become in your kingdom assignment, the more opportunities will come your way, both in the church and marketplace. Many people will want you on their boards and will pull upon you to aid them, and the demands on your time will increase. One of the most important things a leader has to do in order to remain successful is to avoid drifting from their original mission.
For example, I put every invitation and opportunity I get through the grid of my God-given assignment. If it doesn’t align, I don’t even consider it. If it seems to connect to my mission, I pray and try to get a witness in my spirit before I make a commitment to minister somewhere.
Furthermore, with every new level a person obtains, there will be adjustments they will have to make to ensure they are still on point with their mission. Having a team of folks that help you discern the will of God is also invaluable.
7. Be motivated by the message, not money. The more the demand upon you increases, the more opportunity will come to get involved in church ministry or business deals. God will allow both divine and demonic opportunities to come your way to reveal to you the motivations of your heart! If you are motivated primarily by money then you will only go after whatever pays the most instead of what will be the most fruitful for the kingdom. This will lead to a watering down of your purpose, resulting in the dissipating of your effectiveness and divine authority.
8. Center the message/ministry on Jesus, not societal transformation. The Word of God teaches us that all things were made by Jesus and for Jesus (Col. 1:16). In all things we do, Jesus alone should have the supremacy (Col. 1:19). I have seen numerous leaders and ministries focus so much on societal influence and transformation, they wound up in humanism (humanitarianism without Christ). If we seek first His kingdom and focus on Jesus being the center of our lives and ministries, then He will lead us to do things that will enable us to bless both God and humanity.
This does not mean we have to do every good work overtly in the name of Jesus, but we have to look for every opportunity to let His love be known to our neighbors. Otherwise the focus is more on quality of life transformation than on Jesus. In my opinion, this violates Colossians 1:16, 19.
9. Balance your life with individual renewal. When we start preaching and implementing the kingdom message in our spheres of influence, we will see more needs and opportunities than ever before, which can result in work overload. There is no end to societal and individual needs.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that it is essential I consistently do things that build me up spiritually, emotionally and physically. I need to do things that not only strengthen me spiritually (prayer, Bible reading, church), but also those things that give me life emotionally (sports, music, art, cultivating a social life, etc.).
Furthermore, I need to regularly exercise and be strategic in what I eat so I can remain physically functional. Missing it in any of these three areas can mean a premature death either in ministry, family or even our lives.
10. Balance work and play. I have learned not to take myself too seriously. I have learned that I have to work hard but mix play in as well. I need to invest in mutually beneficial friendships that give me and my wife a healthy social life that will strengthen us emotionally and inevitably lengthen our lives and ministries.
I have also found that the leaders I have the most fun with are the ones God is bonding me with the most for kingdom ventures. Jesus called His disciples His friends (John 15). He loved the Pharisees but liked His close associates. Jesus loved everyone, but I am convinced He did not like everyone! (Look at how He spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, and compare it to how He spoke to His disciples in John 15.) Consequently, I believe God is going to lead us to work the closest with those we are compatible with emotionally and socially.
In the kingdom, relationship precedes ministry. If you reverse that, your key ministry partnerships may not endure the test of time!
Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, N.Y.