Sports Outreach Ministry In The Local Church - A Theology of The Church Part #4 - The Church & The Kingdom of God
How often have you heard a preacher say something like “we need to go into all the world and spread the kingdom of God,” or a prayer invoking God for His blessings to expand His Kingdom? For that matter, I’m sure most reading this blog have prayed the words Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come.” So the Kingdom of God is a reality, but in the context of this series of blogs, is the Kingdom of God to be equated with being The Church?
A discussion of the Kingdom of God is necessary when contemplating The Church and local congregations because the two are often equated with each other and the distinction between the two is often blurred. At the very least each can be more fully comprehended when they are compared to one another.
While the Kingdom of God is related to The Church, it remains distinct from, and different than, The Church. Consider Jesus's reply to Pilate: "My Kingdom is not of this world." Jesus was clear, and His response to Pilate was in line with an overall theme that The Kingdom will have a future fulfillment; and sense The Church is definitely a present reality, in fact a two millennia reality, it logically follows the two cannot be one and the same.
So, while the Bible certainly teaches about the Kingdom of God, clearly this Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom in any traditional sense. In light of this, how then should The Church envision itself, both individually and collectively? In addition, what does it mean for local church Sports Outreach Ministry? As described in a previous blog, there are six New Testament words used to describe Jesus's disciples, but what is most significant is the one that is not used in reference to The Church - kingdom (basileia).
The two main concepts that emerge from the six descriptive words that are related to The Church are: a) The Church is made up of individuals who are called into a personal relationship with Christ; and b) these individuals are called into a universal fellowship organized into local assemblies or congregations. So, the main description of those who are "called out" (ecclesia) is that of a fellowship/partnership (koinonia) of followers of Christ, or what we would describe as a "community," not a kingdom (basileia)!
The Church is not called to usher in an earthly kingdom but rather become a witnessing and serving community within earthly kingdoms. So, more than attempting to create a political system that will bring about peace and justice, we should be about creating a community in which the Kingdom of God is experienced and where all will be loved, respected, honored and treated with dignity and respect.
The bottom line for local church Sports, Recreation and Fitness Ministers is they should strive to envision, organize and implement a faith-based sports-community not a kingdom.
The next blog in this series will consider whether a local congregation of The Church is people, buildings or both.
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's book yet to be released book – Sports Ministry Fundamentals. All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. w. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville and other local church Sports, Rec & Fitness Ministers are archived at: www.csrm.org
Dr. Greg Linville was one of the founding members of CSRM and has served as the Executive Director since 2000. He served for 15 years as a local church sports and recreation minister and coached over 30 years at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels as well as 30 years in rec. leagues. Dr. Linville has consulted with churches from Australia, Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe, New Zealand and North America. He was awarded the world's first honorary Doctorate in Sports Ministry and holds an earned Doctorate as well. He is the author of Christmanship: The Theology of Competition & Sport. Dr. Greg has been married for over 35 years, is the father of two married children and the grandfather of a growing number of grandchildren.