Church People vs. Kingdom People
Lately I’ve been turning over in my mind a quote from Howard Snyder’s Liberating the Church:
"Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy, and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world."
This quote almost perfectly captures one of the reasons that I came to Forest Hills—I think that this is a congregation that is trying to be a Kingdom people. I see that playing out in many ways, but perhaps I see it most in our church structure. Instead of being organized around traditional demographic ministries (like children, youth, adults, senior adults, men, and women) we’re organized around three core areas: seeking Christ, serving Christ, and sharing Christ.
Some days I think that this structure is the greatest idea ever; other days I get tired of the navigating such a nontraditional structure. But I don’t love Forest Hills because of the organizational structure itself—I love Forest Hills because of the rationale behind this structure. The lay leadership implementation plan, which introduced this new structure, says that the reason we’re organized around seek/serve/share is to create a structure that “is relevant for the 21st Century…does not constrain creativity and passion for ministry…is nimble…[allows] for more hands for ministry service.”
Forest Hills isn’t organized this way because we’re trying to be different, or novel, or trendy. We’re organized this way because we think it helps us do ministry better. We think it helps us respond better to God’s call. We think it helps us bring in the Kingdom. Sometimes we seek, serve, and share well, and other days we don't do as well as we could. But I appreciate that this church wasn’t focused on preserving the status quo within the walls of the church building; Forest Hills was willing to take a risk and try a new way of mobilizing the church to change the world. That's what it means to be Kingdom people.
Today I’m saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the people who had the vision, creativity, and openness to the Spirit to make this structure possible. I hope you’ll join me in that!