In the Release Initiative church planting cohort last week, we talked a lot about reverse engineering, specifically when it comes to church planting. Most church planting today, whether through a local church or a network, starts with church. Starting with church is not necessarily a bad place to start, but it is not the place that we see Jesus start. Jesus, himself, started with the kingdom and then moved toward church. The short of Kingdom DNA is: kingdom, disciple, society, and then church.
For us to seek first the kingdom of God then it will take some reverse engineering. Instead of gathering a core team, planning for months how we will change a city, and then moving to and launching the church; it will require us to seek and save that which is lost by first bringing the kingdom to that place.
Dallas Willard describes this process this way, "By relying on his word and presence we are enabled to reintegrate the little realm that makes up our life into the infinite rule of God. And that is the eternal kind of life. Caught up in his active rule, our deeds become an element in God's eternal history. They are what God and we do together, making us part of his life and him a part of ours."
One of the first things that one has to ask themselves in church planting is "how do I see the kingdom established in my city, neighborhood, etc. as it is in heaven?" By starting with the kingdom, it allows you to take the posture of a servant as Jesus did; but when you start with church it becomes all about us.
Many of our cities are used to seeing the banners up for a new church plant, which causes us to ask if you start with church does your city even know that you are there or care if within six months you close your doors? But when you start with kingdom, people know that you are there and it matters because you are making an impact on their life.
Reverse engineering church planting is not necessarily easy because it is not what we see many people doing today, but it is what we see Jesus doing. If you are a church planter then I encourage you to start with establishing the kingdom in your context and then naturally see the church flow out of the kingdom as you make disciples in all rhythms of society.