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‘Thy Kingdom Come’ stresses spiritual planning in churches

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP)–Leaders from 15 states met in Columbia, S.C., to learn about “Thy Kingdom Come,” a tool developed by the South Carolina Baptist Convention to help churches plan for the future with the Kingdom of God in mind.

The March 18-19 workshop was thought to be the first of its kind in which a state convention hosted a national meeting, with Thy Kingdom Come now likely to be utilized by churches in other parts of the country.

The South Carolina Baptist Convention, which originally developed the idea of Empowering Kingdom Growth before it became nationwide, realized during the mid-1990s the need for a planning model uniquely designed for churches — one that did not come from the military or the business world only to be adapted for churches.

“We really couldn’t find anything, so we designed our own,” Carlisle Driggers, SCBC executive director-treasurer and co-chairman of the national EKG Task Force, told Baptist Press. “I had worked on an outline for quite some time and then gave it to our writing team so they could flesh it out. We called it ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ because Jesus prayed, ‘Thy kingdom come on this earth even as it is in heaven.'”

Beginning in 1998, the SCBC field-tested the material by allowing churches across South Carolina as well as some in the Pennsylvania-South Jersey convention and in California to try it.

As more state convention leaders heard about Thy Kingdom Come and its results, they began requesting training. Driggers decided to host a meeting in March in response to those requests, and nearly 150 leaders completed two days of intense training on how to implement Thy Kingdom Come as a spiritual planning model for churches.

Driggers said it will be interesting to see the results of the meeting, though he did not plan for the tool to be used nationwide when it was developed.

“Who knows what God can do with it in years to come,” he said. “This is a practical, easy-to-use, simple-to-teach way for churches to plan their work.”

Thy Kingdom Come encompasses five key components: spiritual preparation, vision/values, results, strengths and learnings while addressing worship, evangelism, spiritual growth, ministry development, congregational life and missions.

Spiritual preparation includes spending intentional time with the Lord through Scripture reading and prayer, Driggers explained. During that time, leaders should be thinking about the purpose of the church — what it is there for and where it is going.

“What we say to the churches many times is, ‘Don’t put anything on paper as far as desired results until you have come to the conclusion that this is what God wants for you,'” Driggers said. “And if you study Scripture long and hard enough, you’re going to come out saying Jesus calls us to the Kingdom when He says seek first the Kingdom.

“That is very clearly His purpose for His church — to be Kingdom-focused people,” he continued. “That’s greater than church growth. Church growth is part of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom includes the whole world, so it’s a worldwide vision.”

Once a church begins to understand their purpose from studying Scripture and praying, Driggers said they then begin putting in place the vision and values — a brief vision statement or at least a clear understanding of the church’s vision as they are attempting to be Kingdom people.

After identifying the vision and values, the church can then begin to look ahead a few years and ask what results they hope to have by then.

“For instance, ‘Two years from now we would like to start a new church or have 50 volunteers going somewhere to do mission work or be involved in hunger relief or housing or witnessing to so many people,'” Driggers said. “It’s not that the North American Mission Board or a state convention would be telling the church they need to do it, but the church itself would be praying and seeking God’s will for the results.”

Out of that, a church can start identifying its strengths and mapping out ways to build on them. Only after those have been established should a church identify weaknesses and study how to manage them, Driggers said.

“For so many years we have been thinking about what needs to be corrected in a church, asking, ‘What’s wrong with us? What are we not doing right? What is it that we’re not good at and need to do better?'” Driggers said. “That’s backwards. We pray for God to bless us, and He does. But then we forget about the blessings and want to deal with what’s wrong with us.

“So we’re saying, ‘Find out what the strengths of your church are — worship, ministry, evangelism, mission work or whatever — and ask what you can do to make those better year by year,” he said. “Not ignoring the weaknesses but learning to manage them so they don’t manage us.”

Driggers explained that the South Carolina convention almost always has found that if a church has gone through the spiritual preparation phase and if they’ve developed a vision and values and identified results they feel strongly about, then their strengths will match up with their aims. It will become very obvious that they already have strengths in their congregation that will help them reach those results and carry out that vision and those values, he said.

The final component of Thy Kingdom Come is constantly assessing progress and learning what a church can keep building on.

Also during the recent meeting, Ken Hemphill, EKG national strategist, presented “EKG: The Heartbeat of God,” providing a theological undergirding of the entire EKG movement, which will be outlined in a trade book by Hemphill to be available by June.

“We have said to our pastors and our constituency that [Empowering Kingdom Growth] is not a program but a process,” Hemphill told Baptist Press. “Nevertheless, it’s going to be important to provide some tools for our churches that will help them develop a strategic plan for how their church can get a Kingdom-focused vision.”

Hemphill was thrilled with the results of the Thy Kingdom Come meeting and is optimistic about how God will use it in churches nationwide as more and more people become aware of it. He emphasized, though, that Thy Kingdom Come is one of many tools available to churches as they seek to become Kingdom-focused and churches have complete freedom to choose what fits their context best.

Thy Kingdom Come is available in two formats: a workbook format subtitled, “Preparing Your Church for Kingdom Growth,” and a more intensive four- to six-month package called “Fast-Forwarding Your Church’s Future.” For more information about Thy Kingdom Come, contact the South Carolina Baptist Convention at (803) 765-0030 or [email protected]. The convention’s website is www.scbaptist.org.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ‘THY KINGDOM COME.’

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  • Erin Curry