It’s so important for Christian leaders and pastors to think about work that’s outside of their local church, especially in establishing a robust vision for kingdom priorities.
When the Bible talks about the kingdom of God, it’s not talking particularly about the community of God’s people. It’s actually talking about the kingly rule of Christ.
In Luke 19, it says a nobleman went to a foreign place in order to receive the kingdom, which means a kingdom is something that is given to us.
So we see this idea of the kingdom is not talking so much about God’s people and what they do, but it’s about the kingly reign and the rule of Christ because He is the king of the kingdom.
So what is the kingdom? What are the kingdom priorities?
Before Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, He said repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. And Matthew records what he says by saying that Jesus taught in the synagogues and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God.
Matthew shows us that the kingdom is something that has come upon God’s people and that the finished work of Jesus introduces kingdom priorities to God’s people — priorities that are paradoxical and upside-down and ironic. Jesus gives us the Sermon on the Mount to show what these counter-intuitive values look like.
So what are the implications for a local Christian church leader?
When we are engaged in discipleship to help people grow in their knowledge of the kingdom of God and kingdom priorities, we need to understand that it’s not just about the issues of piety.
As important as piety and the inner life is, we need to understand that it’s not just about evangelistic worship and community development. It’s also about having a balance in within our approach to ministry that also has the incorporation of the integration of faith & work and justice & mercy.
We have to help our people to think Christian-ly about everything – to be able to have kingdom priorities for every dimension of life and ministry.And therefore the Christian leader needs to think not only about discipleship for the local congregation but also having kingdom priorities that go beyond the local church community.
It is so important to be part of networks, organic movements of God that are involved with moving that forward in ways that are helpful for not only the local church but networking of other Christian leaders.
Stephen Um (Ph.D., University of St. Andrews) is the senior minister of Citylife Presbyterian Church in Boston, MA. He serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition, and is Associate Training Director for Redeemer City to City. He is the author of The Kingdom of God, Why Cities Matter (Crossway, 2013), the commentary on 1 Corinthians from the Preaching the Word series (2015), and Micah for You (Good Book Company).