What does it mean to serve “in” the Kingdom of God?
We could spend hours discussing the theological, missiological, and ecclesiological implications of various definitions of the “Kingdom of God.” Rather than dive deeply into a theological conversation about such definitions, I want to talk about partnership within the Kingdom and how it impacts the work of a seminary. This will be a different post than you might usually find me writing. However, I think it is important given the landscape of theological education.
When given the task to guide an organization, leaders are often bitten by the “scarcity” bug, which tends to result in a very competitive approach to our work. Under that paradigm, we quarantine our staff and our organizations in an effort to sustain a “competitive advantage.” Such an approach is diametrically opposed to what we find in scripture.
Competition of this type doesn’t have a place in the Kingdom. Sioux Falls Seminary does not compete with other seminaries, nor does it compete with churches or other ministry training opportunities.
Yes, students may choose to attend another seminary rather than attend Sioux Falls Seminary or vice versa. They may choose to enroll in a program offered in a church or ministry rather than enroll in seminary. This is not competition. It is service. We are all working together to serve those called God has called into a journey of theological education.
We serve a God of abundance, and God is at work! Rather than trying to build walls around our own little kingdoms, we are to be about the work of the Kingdom. Our work starts with the local church and moves from there. As the people of God, we come together as the Church and participate in the work of the Kingdom.
Partnering with others to participate in the work of the Kingdom does not excuse us from robust strategic planning. It simply shifts the focus of our planning.
Part of our role as leaders is effective strategic planning, which is the stewardship of an institution’s vision and mission. We plan, execute, and assess our work in order to pursue our calling. However, our calling is a Kingdom calling, one that operates within the economy of God. In God’s divine order of things, we work together as we follow Jesus into mission.
Rather than compete to attract students out of fear that we won’t get our piece of the pie, we are called to be faithful in the stewardship of what we do have.
Sioux Falls Seminary is committed to this process of stewardship and kingdom-minded ministry. We are committed to walking alongside others as we cooperatively participate in God’s work.
The Kingdom of God is all encompassing. Our understanding of it and calling to participate in the Kingdom mission should permeate everything we do. For us, an important aspect of this mindset is the process of looking beyond ourselves.
Note: This is an edited repost of an article I wrote for Sioux Falls Seminary. The original article is available here