News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Empowering Kingdom Growth: promoting a passion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For a year now, I have had the pleasure of traveling across our convention on behalf of the Executive Committee and LifeWay speaking about Empowering Kingdom Growth. I have spoken in local churches, associational settings, and to various state convention staffs. I am thrilled to report that there is growing excitement and anticipation about this bold initiative adopted by our convention in 2002.

We already are beginning to see new and bold initiatives at every level of our Convention as people attempt to ask what it means to be Kingdom-focused. Many of the state conventions have adopted creative Kingdom initiatives to assist their churches. I will be sharing several of these stories in future columns; letting you know about local churches, associations, or states that are representative of many that are inspiring in their Kingdom focus.


When I first met with the EKG taskforce, several members underlined the oft-repeated statement that this is not a program. That very thought both excites us and troubles many of us when we first hear it. We are excited because we have implemented program after program that have not produced the results that we had hoped for. Thus it is natural for us to say that we don’t need another program. This statement has troubled others because it has made this Convention-wide initiative a bit difficult to grasp. It has been somewhat nebulous.

If it is not a program, what is it? It is a passion. It is a passion for God and His Kingdom. We are asking ourselves: “What is the heartbeat of God?” Do I share that heartbeat? Does my passion for the Kingdom translate into my daily life? Does it impact my giving, my praying, my going, my service, and my lifestyle? Kingdom passion will of necessity impact all that we do every day of the week. It will impact our family relationships and our community relationships. Am I seeking to build relationships with the Kingdom in view?


EKG calls for a spiritual awakening. Nothing short of a sweeping revival will suffice. We must pray that God will remove the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. We must ask the Father to put His Spirit within us. The steps for awakening are outlined in Ezekiel 36:24-32.

This section in Ezekiel is followed by the wonderful story of the valley of dry bones (ch.37). The Spirit of the Lord set Ezekiel down in the middle of a valley filled with dry bones and asked him whether these bones could live again. The prophet wisely responds that God alone knows the answer to that question. I love verse 10: So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then God promises that He will put his Spirit within them (37:14).

Can you imagine what will be the result of more than 16 million Southern Baptists empowered by God’s Spirit with a passion for God’s Kingdom? Can you imagine what could happen in our churches? We could see renewed health and increased baptisms. We could see generous and sacrificial giving which would enable us to more fully participate in reaching our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. We would not have to think about cutting back programs at the local, state, or national level. We wouldn’t have to hear about missionaries unable to go to the ends of the earth because resources were not available. We would look at the goal of one million baptisms as simply a launching base for even greater Kingdom impact.


No program or strategy will change the church — there must first be a change of heart and perspective. As I mentioned in an earlier article, one of the greatest barriers to spiritual breakthrough at every level is spiritual “my-opia,” the perspective that places “my” self-interests before Kingdom priorities.

When we “seek first” God’s Kingdom, it will cause us to ask what we must do to be an effective instrument in His hand as He expands His Kingdom through our church. It will produce in us a “whatever-it-takes” mindset. It will make us willing to take risks for the gospel. It will lead us to pray for other churches in our association and our convention. It will cause us to pray, give, and go with greater abandon. I can hardly wait to see what God will do as we “seek first” His Kingdom and not ours.


As I have traveled across the convention, ministers have asked what resources are available to help the local church understand and embrace the concept of the Kingdom, and to develop a strategic plan to become a Kingdom church. There are several products that you might want to consider for your church.

Under Tom Elliff’s able leadership we already have introduced several studies that focus on what it means to be a Kingdom-focused family.

Adrian Rogers’s material on Kingdom authority, The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority is a six-week study that will help church members to understand the authority available to them to accomplish Kingdom activity. This should help to overcome the apathy and fear that often paralyze the church.

The six-week study based on The Prayer of Jesus will help church members to understand the significance of prayer as it relates to advancing the Kingdom on earth. It will also sensitize participants to see Kingdom activity all day every day. God is always at work, and He will show us His activity and empower us to participate in it if we but ask daily and throughout the day. Both of these tools are available from any LifeWay Store or can be obtained by calling, 1-800-448-8032.

Two tools that will help the church to refocus its ministries with a Kingdom focus are The Kingdom Focused Church by Gene Mims, and Thy Kingdom Come, which has been produced by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Gene’s book is available through LifeWay Stores, and Thy Kingdom Come is available from the South Carolina Convention. Other state conventions are working on similar material to assist churches, and I will share those with you in later articles.


The first task that I undertook as the National Strategist for EKG was to develop a theological under girding for the entire task before us as a denomination. The resulting book, EKG: The Heartbeat of God, and the related forty-day church study material should help churches grow in their passion to be more Kingdom-focused.

Watch the EKG section on the SBC Web site, www.SBC.net, for additional materials designed to assist the church in the study of the Kingdom of God. We will be providing sermon ideas, worship outlines, and suggestions for implementation that you can download at no charge. Our desire is to see all our churches revitalized by the Spirit of God as they study EKG: The Heartbeat of God.

God is seeking a people who will embody His character, embrace His mission to the nations, and obey His Word. Will you commit to be a Kingdom person? Will you pray that your church will be a Kingdom church?
Kenneth S. Hemphill is the SBC national EKG strategist.

    About the Author

  • Kenneth S. Hemphill