This past Sunday, King of Kings Fellowship celebrated its 20th Anniversary as a church. Pastor Bob Butler, his wife Patty, and many of the founding members were on hand to commemorate the work that God started all those years ago. We heard stories of struggle, miracles, friendship, growth, and loss. For people like myself who were not there from the beginning, it was rewarding to listen to the journey that these people took in obedience to God.
The celebration threw into sharp relief the questions I have been asking since assuming the position of pastor for our church. “What does King of Kings look like moving forward? What is their new mission? What should we put our hand to?” Undoubtedly, these are questions that many of our people have been asking as well.
While God has not filled in all the blanks, some answers have been revealed. I wanted to take some time here in this article to share where I believe the Lord has us going for the remainder of the year and beyond.
In April, I preached a sermon series called Pentecost. In it, I pointed to Acts 2:42 as an overall direction for our church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In the biblical context, all these practices occurred in community. The church shared Scripture together. They ate together. They prayed together.
When I consider the state of many churches in North America today, I believe that we have lost something vital to our existence. People show up on a Sunday morning and sit in an auditorium to listen to someone sing at them, a person pray at them, and another person preach at them. The level of interaction between those in attendance is often limited to the five minutes before service, the five minutes during “meet n greet,” and the five minutes after service.
When you compare our modern worship culture with what we read about in the New Testament, you realize that we have become far less relational with each other. Do we spend time on Sunday morning truly interacting with each other? Praying with each other? Encouraging each other? Do we spend time beyond the Sunday morning invested in each other’s lives?
So, moving forward for King of Kings includes efforts to build a stronger local body focused on investing in each other’s lives. Life groups will allow our people to learn God’s Word together in community during the week. Observing communion once a month at a dinner table with a full lunch provided will make for a more interactive worship service. Providing multiple times throughout the week to gather in community to pray will also help in our efforts to seek God together for direction and provision.
Currently, these practices are already in place and lay the foundation for what ministry at King of Kings is all about.
When I consider the severity of homelessness, substance abuse, poverty, and mental illness in the city of Lethbridge, my heart is filled with grief. So complex and widespread is the problem, I cannot imagine how one church could ever hope to have an impact on restoring all the broken lives.
Jesus says in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” For Jesus this was not just a personal mission; it was a corporate mandate! After proclaiming this in the synagogue, He would later send His disciples out into the region to do these very things.
And so it is with us. If we are to be successful in “setting the oppressed free,” we will need to work together with other local churches. That means we need to lay aside any differences we might have in the name of cooperative evangelism. The primary goal here is not to attract individuals to our local church but to proclaim the good news of Jesus in word and in deed. Demonstrating the intense power of Jesus’ love in cooperation with other churches might prove to be one of the most difficult tasks to undertake, but the rewards for doing so might actually reverse the erosion we are experiencing in Lethbridge.
Currently, there is no established plan of action for this focus. I have had conversations with our leadership team and others within our church family on practical ideas. I have also had many conversations with other pastors in the city, and while the response to such an outreach is encouraging, we all recognize the work involved in making a lasting impact.
I am not opposed to the idea of gathering small teams to volunteer at Streets Alive, the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, or Youth One (as examples), but I want us to be led toward something, not just go to it for the sake of doing it. I ask you to keep praying for direction in this area.
It sounds strange, but it can be easy to forget that there are real people living all around our church. Many of them have jobs, families, and dreams. Some of them lead lives filled with suffering unknown to anyone. Some struggle with addictions or mental illness. Others teeter on the edge of falling apart. Even others still might lead what appear to be healthy lives but have no knowledge of their own Creator or the purpose He has for their earthly existence and beyond.
For the most part, what they need is a good friend.
Imagine what the neighbourhood would be like if the people living in it knew that there was an actual church that truly cared for their overall well-being? A few might find that awkward, but most people would find that a refreshing change.
Imagine further if that neighbourhood friend showed up occasionally at their house to rake the leaves or shovel the snow? Or offered to provide meals or grocery support when times got tough? What if that same church threw an occasional cookout or pancake breakfast for no other reason than to say hello and offer a hand in friendship? Might some of those people even choose to worship with us on a regular basis? Might most of them start to understand what the love of Christ is really all about?
In my opinion, this should be the ministry vision of every local church. There are a few churches in Lethbridge that are actually good at it. My vision for King of Kings is that we become one of them, as we once were. Let’s take a look down the street and around the corner and see what God wants to do in the lives of our neighbours.
One of the most radical and remarkable works of God at King of Kings Fellowship over the years has been the establishment of over 1500 churches, largely in India. Currently, many of those churches are still alive and following Jesus Christ with all their hearts.
Recently, COVID heavily impacted our efforts to be in India. Also, challenges here at home for our local church impacted both our volunteer force and our ability to provide meaningful financial support to those churches. Because of this, it is safe to say that we have experienced setback in regard to our global initiative.
However, currently, efforts are underway to create an independent agency that would be responsible for providing the spiritual oversight and financial resources that these churches rely on. Once that agency is established, King of Kings will transition into a role of providing ongoing support to the agency in the same way that we provide support to the Hosking mission in New Zealand. If you wish to know more about these efforts, please feel free to reach out to me.
Until we develop a more stable (and yes, larger) church population, we will continue to wait on the Holy Spirit for further guidance and opportunity as it relates to “going into all the world.”
So far, that is what the Lord has revealed to me (largely through the input of our regular attendees) about moving forward. There is a lot of ground yet to break:
Having impact takes cheerful and willing volunteers.
Having cheerful and willing volunteers takes a larger church community.
Having a larger church community takes a radical expression of Christ’s love from those who call King of Kings home.
But I am now truly convinced that all I have spoken of in this article is what the Lord desires from us. King of Kings Fellowship exists for the Lord’s good pleasure, and each of us are here because He first called us into community with each other. Now is the time for us to close out our season of Sabbath and to start sowing the seed of the Kingdom. For those of you who have not ceased in doing that over the summer, I extend my gratitude to you. Let us join you in proclaiming the favourable year of the Lord together.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3)