LONDON – The Kingdom of God is not about me but about transforming the world and everything in it, says Brian McLaren.
Speaking on day two of the Faithworks conference on Saturday, the popular emerging church leader asserted that Christians tend to put themselves and their entry to Heaven at the center of their faith, while neglecting to consider the significance of their faith for the world around them.
Christians, he said, have become “consumers of religious goods and services” who view the church as something that exists to fulfill their needs and house their soul until they went to Heaven.
“Our theology is perfectly designed to produce the results we are now getting. If you want a change in results you need a change in theology,” he said.
“The world exists so we can extract people and money to come into the church. The idea of what church is about is producing a lot of the results we’ve been getting.”
He said that although Christians were not of the world, they were still in the world and called to be agents of transformation by bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth.
“We are not passive players conforming to the world but with transformed and renewed minds, we are agents of transformation,” he said.
“The Kingdom of God is about God’s Kingdom being done on Earth. It’s not a plan of upward mobility and how we get to Heaven but about how God’s Kingdom comes down to Earth … it’s a downward movement.”
McLaren urged Christians to realize that they had a part to play in the Kingdom of God coming on Earth by being Jesus’ arms, hands, feet, and smile in the world.
He said that while the average churchgoer spends only around two percent of their lives in church, the church has spent most of its energy trying to make the two percent more enjoyable. He encouraged the church to think beyond the two percent and realize that the Kingdom embraced every part of life.
“We ought to pay more attention to the Christ thing,” he said. “It’s not an argument about the two percent thing but I’m saying that the Kingdom of God is 360 degrees. It’s about where, how, what.”
He called upon churches to effect change by seeing themselves as deeply interconnected to all sectors of society.
“Church has a relationship to government. Church, like it or not, has a relationship to the youth gang," he said. “All different parts of society are interconnected and one part has an effect on all the other parts.
“When we change one part of the system it affects all parts, because it is all interconnected.”
The Faithworks 360 degrees conference is taking place in Enfield, North London, over the weekend to explore a vision for the church that embraces all aspects of life.
Earlier in the conference, Faithworks founder Steve Chalke told Christians to rediscover the meaning and purpose of their lives by going out of the church and serving their communities.
Recalling that Jesus had broken His body as an act of service, he said service was not an “add-on” or only for those Christians who had the time but something that every believer was called by Jesus to do.
“Find God in the ordinary, in the service. His body was broken for community. In doing that you’ll find yourself and the sense of meaning,” he said.
“So often in life, work is debilitating and draining, but Jesus said ‘My work is my food.’ This is what we’ve lost and this is where we find it: in committed service.”