NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Is Empowering Kingdom Growth just another denominational program or is it a wake-up call from God? I believe it’s a wake up call.
Our nation, our culture and the Church are experiencing the judgment of God and He is trying to get our attention. The question is: Will we continue to seek our own solutions or will we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways?
Here’s what I mean — evangelical Christianity is about to experience a train wreck if something doesn’t change. Most major evangelists estimate well over half of church membership is lost and 88 percent of evangelical children leave church before age 18. Additionally, Barna research shows no significant statistical difference exists between those who claim to be Christians and those who do not in most categories involving belief systems and lifestyle practices.
These few representative statistics throw a spotlight on the track that lies ahead of us. Business as usual will not cut it. Wouldn’t it be foolish to work on improving the train ride when the track is out?
Over the last year as I have served as a member of the Empowering Kingdom Growth task force, I’ve been encouraged by the hearts of the men around the table and their desire to see the Spirit of God move in a powerful way through our convention. If we are going to prevent the train wreck, we must fix the tracks and get the entire train moving in the right direction.
Well, just another program will not create the type of change necessary. Instead we must break out of the denial mode and return to God. We must ask ourselves, “What is it about the quality of our leadership that has produced millions of false converts, caused 88 percent of our children not to want what we have, and allowed our church membership to comfortably cling to the lifestyles of the world?”
As these questions have reverberated through my mind, it has caused me to examine every aspect of my own life. Here are five questions that I’ve had to come to grips with in recent days:
Question 1: Have I accepted my accountability for the use or misuse of the gifts that God has given me?
Accountability is one of those difficult words that make a lot of people uncomfortable. Many will substitute the simple reporting of activities for true accountability. Throughout my business career I have been consistently challenged to produce tangible results with the time and resources that were allocated to my area of responsibility. When I met with the boss, he wasn’t concerned with all the things I did, only the results that I achieved. This model of accountability is reinforced throughout the Scriptures, especially in the story of the talents.
I believe that someday God will lay before me the skills, abilities and opportunities that He gave me and I will be accountable for how I used them to make a difference in His Kingdom. When that time comes, the only thing that will be of significance is how I made a difference in the lives that I touched.
Questions 2: Is my prayer life more focused on my needs or Kingdom opportunities? How can I see the opportunities, if my heart is not in tune with the King?
It is my responsibility to spend time in His Word so that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of my heart. The whole focus of my prayer life changes when I begin to see things from a Kingdom perspective. My current needs seem so insignificant in light of all eternity, and the things that are eternal become the priority.
Question 3: Am I more concerned about what I can get from a relationship or what I can give?
Our basic personalities were formed by the relationships within our early life and how our needs were met through those relationships. It is very natural for us to continue to focus on having our needs met through relationships, but that is not God’s plan.
I believe that the model for relationships set forth in God’s Word is one of interdependency and meeting the needs of others. This is especially true in God’s design for the family where He has given us a helpmate to cherish and children to nurture.
I am very encouraged by the focus on Kingdom Families because the very foundation of God’s Kingdom on this earth, the family, is under attack from all the powers of this world. As our relationships extend outside our families to the church, the key question is our attitude toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. Will God bless any Body of Believers when unresolved conflict resides?
Question 4: Is my life advancing the Kingdom through personal evangelism and missions? Has sharing my faith become just another task in the overwhelming agenda of my life? Have I become too busy with my own recreational activities that I don’t have time to spend on mission trips?
As my thoughts have shifted from my agenda to God’s agenda, the Lord has brought to remembrance the joy of those times when I shared His love with others and the faces of those in a far away land that do not know Him. The process of self-examination has caused me to make fresh commitments to personal witnessing through a structured outreach initiative in my church and to renew my active involvement in missions.
Question 5: Is my sense of purpose derived from my accomplishments among men or my service to the King?
Like many, my sense of worth or self-esteem came from my journey up the corporate ladder or other forms of worldly success. Reflecting back over my journey, I left a lot behind in my quest for success only to discover that the view from the top was more frustrating that fulfilling.
Those lost opportunities will never be reclaimed. Today I am very intentional to look past my circumstances to see where God is at work and how I might be able to serve Him. Rick Warren states in his book, “The Purpose Driven Life” that being “successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same issue. You could reach all your personal goals, becoming a raving success by the world’s standard, and still miss the purposes for which God created you.” God says, “Self sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self.”
Have we been fulfilling God’s purpose? If we had been, would our culture have collapsed on our watch? Do you know how to gauge your purpose? Look at your checkbook, your calendar — how do you spend your free time?
If Empowering Kingdom Growth is not to become just another program but a fresh word from God, then we are left with one question: How will I respond to God’s call to humble myself, pray and seek His face, and turn from my wicked ways? Will you let God examine your heart as I have tried to let Him examine mine?
Empowering Kingdom Growth is about returning to the King and making His Kingdom the priority in our lives.
Steve Little is a management consultant and a member of Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.