SERMON TITLE: We are Kingdom-minded
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
Watch the sermon here
Take notes here
As always it’s a joy to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And there’s one thing I want you to know — and this is true if you’re worshiping with us for the first time or are joining us at our North Main Campus — I want you to know that God loves you and that I love you too.
We’re concluding our Vision series this weekend. We began this series about a month ago when Matt Heft — one of our church elders — introduced us to our new church mission statement. I told the origin story of all this back in November of last year — but I think it’s appropriate to repeat it as we wrap up this series so we all know how this all came about.
It’s January 2023. I’m in Orlando meeting with other pastors from around the country. And — while there — I’m sent an email from Laura Moore — who’s our Executive Director of Ministry. And — if you’re wondering what her title means — it means that she’s the boss. She’s gonna love that I just said that and that I’m telling this story again — but she sent me an email that included a blog article all about what causes stress for pastors. And she asked me this question: “From this list, which of these stressors would you say you relate the most with? Is there anything different you would add to the list?” And she copied Matt Heft — the elder I mentioned earlier — on her email to me. So the pressure was on — I couldn’t ignore her email. And here’s how I replied.
“I don’t know that I’m good at being the vision guy for Gateway. Things like “Should we start another campus” and “should we think about starting up Saturday night services again” are decisions I never know what to do with, when to bring them up, or how we’d even know if we have an answer to these questions. I’ve never understood the idea of how you come up with a 3-5 year vision plan for a church — that seems like a big old “throw spaghetti against the wall” kind of guessing game to me — or at least for a mere mortal like me who can’t predict the future. I know things like “we’re going to be biblically faithful,” but I don’t have a clue when it comes to the more practical stuff like campuses, services, and so on. I’d love for someone — or a team of someones — to put some vision ideas together for me.”
To which Matt replied — and this is my summary, “Josh, you’ve got vision. I’ll tell you what it is. Let’s do lunch.” Or — to quote Matt directly — he said, “Thanks for letting me be part of this email thread. I’m intrigued by your comments on vision setting. I think you have way more of a vision for Gateway than you realize. [Just] because that doesn’t include buildings and campuses doesn’t mean you don’t have a vision. I’d love to talk to you about this some more when we meet for lunch.”
And — this email exchange — led me and the elders on a journey that lasted over seven months. Matt and I did have lunch together and it was then that he started describing what he sees as my vision for Gateway Church. I took a few other elders out for lunch and asked them some questions to start gathering their thoughts on what they saw as my vision. And — since she started it all in the first place — I asked Laura to write down what she saw as my vision. Something I know about myself is that I’m more intuitive as a leader and I need others to describe for me what they see as my values — my vision — and so on.
And after a few months of collecting all of these thoughts and ideas from others — and a helpful video that Matt stumbled across — I put together a vision document that the elders and I discussed for months. I presented the vision to the staff — then to those of you who came to our all volunteer training back in August. And again in November during an evening communion service.
And during the evening communion service I introduced you to this graphic. These four columns represent the key components that drive the life, ministry, and direction of a local church. The first component is the pastor. The second component is a church’s key leaders. The third component of a church is its discipleship process. And the fourth component is what this Vision series has focused on — the kind of disciples of Jesus we’re desiring to make here at Gateway Church.
So component one — the pastor. That’s me. The Bible has a lot to say about the qualifications, characteristics, and calling of a pastor. There are the characteristics of a pastor — found in First Timothy chapter three. There’s the call to shepherd the flock found in First Peter chapter five. There’s the mandate to preach the word found in Second Timothy chapter four. And a pastor is to be focused on prayer and the Word as found in Acts chapter six. Those are some examples of what we mean by the word pastor here at Gateway Church.
The second column — the next component of a church — are the key leaders. Here at Gateway Church our key leaders include our elders, our deacons, our staff, and those who serve as Life Group leaders — we looked at these leaders in last week’s sermon. These leaders help the pastor move the church along in a certain direction — which leads us to the third component — our discipleship process. Here at Gateway Church this is our process of Worship, Connect, Serve, and Go — this is how we help you grow as a disciple of Jesus.
Worship is when we gather together to worship our God in a way that’s Gospel-Centered, done with excellence, and is contextual. We connect in Life Groups where we gather together to discuss how the Bible applies to our lives and care for one another. We serve each other — the people in our church family — AND we go into the world by equipping, partnering with, and sending members to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Are there other ministries we do? Of course. But Worship, Connect, Serve, and Go is our primary way of making disciples here at Gateway Church. And these three components have summed up our ministry as a church. I — the pastor — serve alongside our key leaders — who oversee and support our discipleship process.
And now we’re to the fourth and final component — the column labeled disciple. In the past, we’ve focused so much on what we want you to do to grow in your faith — our discipleship process — that we failed to clearly communicate to you who we’re wanting you to become as a disciple of Jesus here at Gateway Church. And this is what I and the elders want to make clear so we all move forward together — growing as disciples of Jesus with a unified vision of what we mean by a disciple of Jesus.
And our vision is that we’d be disciples of Jesus...
1. Who are...Word and Spirit Christians.
2. Who are…generous.
3. Who are...family.
4. Who are…disciples who make disciples.
5. And who are…Kingdom-minded.
We’ve spent one sermon on the first four characteristics and — today — we’re finishing this Vision series by looking at what it means for us to be disciples of Jesus who are Kingdom-minded.
This characteristic has gone through some revisions over the past year as I and the elders discussed our vision for Gateway Church. Originally we called this “empowering and equipping the Big C — or global — church.” And we realized that we needed to do some word-smithing — because — that was a mouthful and not very memorable. But the focus of this characteristic has remained the same — though the wording has changed. By Kingdom-minded — we mean that we’d all have a desire for the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ — the news that God sent his Son to this world to seek and save those who are lost — to restore peace and wholeness to his creation — to bring reconciliation and renewal — that this Good News would not be restricted to our community, or state, or country — but would be news that changes the world — for that is what God intends his news to do — to change the whole world.
After all — one of the most well-known verses in the Bible tells us…
John 3:16 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Now — being Kingdom-minded is related to the characteristic we looked at last week — us being disciples who make disciples — where we strive together to be a church that raises up the next generation of Christians, pastors, missionaries, and church leaders — but now — not just for our own local church benefit — but for the benefit of Christ’s church beyond our walls. For we’re to make disciples of all nations — not just here in Findlay — not even just in our country — but disciples of Jesus of all nations. For Jesus tells us…
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So let’s look at some ways we can all be disciples of Jesus who are Kingdom-minded.
Being Kingdom-minded disciples begins with prayer — we must pray. One day, Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. And here’s what Jesus said to them. He said…
Matthew 6:9–13 (NLT)
9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
I want to bring your attention to the part where Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come soon — for his will to be done here on earth as it’s being done in heaven. In heaven there is no rebellion against God’s will. There is no sin.
This is the hope and beauty of what the Christian faith teaches about eternity — no more war, no more rebellion, no more adultery, no more murder, no more racism, no more hate — for all of these things — and much more — are not God’s will. And Jesus — in teaching us how to pray — tells us that we’re to be people who pray for God’s Kingdom to come here on earth — just as it is in heaven. This means we must pray against the powers of darkness, and sin, and rebellion, and death that are both in each of us personally — due to our sin — and in the world.
So — when we pray — we’re to pray both for ourselves — and how we’re all personally affected by — and responsible for — God’s will not being done here on earth as it is in heaven — and we’re to pray against the spiritual forces of darkness — Satan and his demons — and their opposition to God’s will being done here on earth as it is in heaven. Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus will be men and women who pray for his Kingdom to come and his will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
Next — to be Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus — we need to rely on — meaning we’re to trust in — Jesus’ promise to us that he is building his Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail. Right after being asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?”
Matthew 16:16–19 (NLT)
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Jesus says, “I will build my church.” And he’s given us the keys of his Kingdom so that we accomplish the purpose and mission he’s given to his church. And — as the apostle Paul reminds us — “If God is for us, who can stand against us?” The answer — in case it isn’t clear — is that no one and nothing can stand against us because none can stand against the King of all kings — Jesus. I mean if death couldn’t defeat Jesus — or God’s plan — why would we think anything or anyone else could? And — it just so happens — that Jesus’ disciples — also known as his Church — taking his gospel news to all nations — so that his Kingdom will come here on earth as it is in heaven — is God’s undefeatable plan. Therefore to be Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus we must trust him and his Father’s plan.
Did you know that over a quarter of Jesus’ parables — his short moral stories meant to teach a timeless truth — over a quarter of them are about the Kingdom of God — sometimes called the Kingdom of Heaven?
For example, Jesus says…
Matthew 13:24–33 (NIV)
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” 31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
What do we learn from the first parable? We learn that — though there’s an enemy trying to sow discord and division in God’s creation — the good sower — who represents God — will protect, cultivate, and bring in a great and bountiful harvest — which points to the harvest of people who will come to faith in Jesus. The parable of the mustard seeds shows us that — though the Christian faith started off small — it’s been guaranteed to grow beyond what anyone can imagine. Like a tiny bit of yeast mixed in with sixty pounds of flour — the Kingdom of God didn’t start off that big — but it’s been guaranteed to grow exponentially.
These truths — these promises from God — are what we’re to rely on — what we’re to trust in — what we’re to believe to be true for us — his disciples today — just as it was true for the disciples we read of in the Bible. And oh what confidence this would give us — to go to the nations — to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Good News. What confidence we’ll have — as Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus — to be the people through which God brings his heavenly will down here to earth.
One day — in eternity — all who are disciples of Jesus will experience God’s perfect will. No more sin. No more sorrow. No more death, or decay, or darkness. But — until that day — God’s Kingdom is expanding here on earth. And — as disciples of Jesus — we’re to be participants in his work — here on earth — as we rely on his promises and power to bring his will to fruition.
Which leads us to some ways that we can participate and demonstrate that we’re Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus. But — first — some final reminders from scripture. Jesus said…
Matthew 24:14 (ESV)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus is clear. Once the gospel is proclaimed to all nations — then the end will come — then he will return to earth to make all things new — then there will be no more death, decay, or darkness. Which tells us that — since he hasn’t returned — there are still people who’ve yet to hear and believe the gospel — the Good News that God saves sinners — that Jesus came to earth to live, die, and rise from the grave to defeat every single person’s greatest enemies of Satan, sin, death, and Hell.
The apostle Paul understood this to mean that his mandate — his purpose — was to keep proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom until his dying breath. Thus, though arrested and awaiting to appear before the emperor of Rome, we read that…
Acts 28:23 (ESV)
23 When they (the Jews) had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
And the last two verses of Acts tell us that…
Acts 28:30–31 (ESV)
30 He (Paul) lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
And why did Paul keep proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God — even while under house arrest — even when his death drew near? Because he really believed words that he wrote by inspiration of the Spirit of God.
Romans 10:9–17 (NLT)
9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” 16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
Being Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus means we’ll be both senders and those who are sent to bring the Good News to all people. Which is why — in case you don’t know — you hear us say “You are sent” each week. For we gather together to worship our Savior — Jesus Christ — and then we send you out as his Kingdom-minded disciples to proclaim his Good News to the world.
Now — just like I’ve done in the other sermons in this series — I’m going to give you some practical steps you can take if you’re interested in growing as a Kingdom-minded disciple of Jesus.
First — and this may be the first you’re hearing about this — but we’re hosting our inaugural Go Conference next month — from March 14-17. Here’s how our Go Conference is an opportunity for you to participate in growing as a Kingdom-minded disciple of Jesus. It begins by planning to attend one or more of the events scheduled during the conference. We’re going to have a women’s dinner, a men’s breakfast, an international bazaar, and other events. And — as you attend these events — I want to encourage you to be intentional and choose one of our Go partners and get to know them better. Sign up to be on their prayer and newsletter list — commit to praying for them. There will be activities for all ages to participate in the conference — so parents — take advantage of this opportunity to be Kingdom-minded as a family. You’ll be hearing more about this conference in the next few weeks.
Here’s another opportunity for you to be a Kingdom-minded disciple of Jesus here at Gateway Church. We’ve got a group of folks in our congregation who are reaching out to the local Haitian and Spanish speaking immigrants in our community. And they need others to join them in serving and loving these folks who are part of our community. The ask isn’t big — are you willing to be a friend? Can you help teach basic English — you don't have to be ESL trained or certified — you just need to love people and have a desire to be a Kingdom-minded disciple of Jesus. If this interests you, reach out to Ed Grable who’s the staff contact for this opportunity.
Here’s another opportunity. We’ve partnered with City Mission — here in Findlay — for years. They’re an organization that focuses on empowering change through sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, and inspiring hope. And they can always use folks to help prepare and serve meals. Go to their website — findlaymission.org — or talk to Ed to learn more about this local ministry partner.
You’ve been hearing about their baby bottles for a few weeks now — but the Women’s Resource Center is another one of our local partners that’s a great opportunity for you to grow as a Kingdom-minded disciple of Jesus. You’ll find faces you recognize there — on staff, on the board, volunteering — as many in your Gateway Church family invest in this ministry partner who serves an important group in our community. Stop by the baby bottle drive display at your campus to find out more about this ministry partner.
Finally — and I’ve saved this one for last and for the most daring of you. Join our conversational English classes with Bible School students in Bangladesh every Saturday morning on zoom. These zoom calls take place in March through October — but here’s the daring part. Once the zoom calls end — commit to go on our mission trip to Bangladesh in November and celebrate the students’ graduation. I — and some others from Gateway Church — were in Bangladesh this past November and it was a great time of seeing God’s Kingdom — here on earth — in some of the most remote villages you’ll ever visit. You won’t come back the same once you’ve seen God’s Kingdom at work in this country. If you’re interested in this opportunity — be sure to reach out to Kelly Green — who oversees our Go department.
I want to conclude this series by taking one last look at this graphic. Pastor — check. Key leaders — check — I’m so thankful for you who serve as elders, staff, deacons, and as Life Group leaders. Discipleship process — we’ve got a good one — check. And the goal of our discipleship process — disciples who are Word and Spirit Christians. Who are generous. Who are family. Who are disciples who make disciples. And who are Kingdom-minded — check.
The elders and I are excited for this next chapter in our story as a church. We’re thankful for Gateway Church’s past — thankful for the pastors, elders, staff, and church members who’ve come before us — I want you to know that we find it a joy to honor our past. Yet the future is exciting and I hope it excites you as we’ve now clarified our vision and made clear the spiritual win for each and everyone of us who are disciples of Jesus here at Gateway Church. For we believe that — when all of us who are disciples of Jesus unite around this vision — we’ll see and experience God’s will being done here on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s pray together.
Holy Father, may your name be honored among us — your people here at Gateway Church. And may your Kingdom come — here on earth as it is in heaven.
Holy Spirit, help us — inspire us — cause us even — to rely on you and your promises to us. We’re not the builders of your Church; our faithful God is Creator and Builder and Sustainer of his Church. We’re not responsible for whether or not someone believes the gospel — for salvation is in your hands. But we are called to be so Kingdom-minded — that our love for you and for others motivates us to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And — Jesus — it’s your gospel. It’s your news. You came to seek and save the lost and we’re to proclaim that news — as we make much of your name and what you’ve done. And — in the end — we’re to say, “We just did what was our duty as servants of the King.” What a humbling call — servants of the King. What an exciting call — servants of the King. What a mighty call — servants of the King who reigns and rules over the only eternal Kingdom. As we follow you — Jesus — as your disciples — may we be Kingdom-minded because our focus is on you — our King. In your name we pray. Amen.
Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God! In eternity, people will come from east and west, and from north and south, to sit at the table in the God’s Kingdom. According to Luke, after he was crucified and raised from the dead, Jesus ate a meal with his disciples. And during the meal he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
And — at this table — our Savior invites those who believe in him for their hope and salvation — those whose eyes have been opened — to share this meal which he has prepared.
Hear the words of Paul: The Lord Jesus, on the night of his arrest, took bread, and after giving thanks to God, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he took the cup, saying: This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me. Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the saving death of the risen Lord, until he comes.
Now with thanksgiving for all that God has done for us in his Son, Jesus Christ, let’s spend a moment in silence, offering to God our grateful praise for cleansing us from all of our sins.
—moment of silence—
God, in your wisdom, you made all things and you sustain them by your power. You formed us in your image, placing us in this world to love and serve you, and to live in peace with your whole creation. When we rebelled against you, refusing to trust and obey you, you did not reject us, but you claimed us as your own. You sent prophets to call us back to you.
Then in the fullness of time, out of your great love for the world, you sent your only Son to be one of us, to redeem us, to heal our brokenness, to be our Rescuer. Therefore we praise you — joining our voices with the choirs of angels and with all the saints of every time and place who forever sing to the glory of your name — words that are on the screens if you’d like to join me in saying them.
Congregation: Holy, holy, holy God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Amen.
At this time, I’d like to invite forward those who are going to be serving us. And — while they make their way forward — know that as the bread and cup are passed down your rows, you’re to take the bread on your own — but save the cup — which we’ll drink together. Also — in the trays with the bread — there’s a gluten free option in the center of the tray. Eat the bread on your own — but save the cup — which we’ll drink together.
COMMUNION PASSED OUT
The blood of Christ, shed for you.
Let’s pray. Father, we acknowledge that you are holy and majestic — and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. In Jesus, your Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He was full of grace and truth. He lived as one of us — knowing joy and sorrow. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, opened blind eyes, and broke bread with outcasts and sinners. Dying on the cross, he gave himself for the life of the world. Raised from the grave, he won for us victory over death. We praise you that Jesus now reigns with you as King of your Kingdom and will come again to make all things new. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
May you go committed to being a Kingdom-minded disciple of Jesus — because your focus is on your King. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.