shutterstock_138703010By Mike Augsburger

On a recent vacation, I took the opportunity to spy on another church. My family was visiting friends out of state who took us to their nondenominational, nonaffiliated church. My radar was tuned in. From the moment we stepped onto the property to the moment we left, I was analyzing everything.

In such settings, I play a game: see how quickly I can figure out the pastor’s theological perspective and his alma mater. As I was collecting evidence, I noticed several points of interest. A statement at the bottom of the bulletin made an impassioned plea for more people to help in various ministries. The motivational tagline at the end said, “Come join us as we build God’s kingdom.” Interesting. Using a theology of the kingdom to motivate ministry service.

I peered into the church library and spotted the Left Behind series prominently displayed. Interesting. At the end of the service, the pastor announced that they would soon begin a study of Daniel. At this point I was certain the pastor was most likely pre-millennial in theology.

After the service, I identified myself as a fellow pastor. The pastor and I chatted briefly, and then I asked the million-dollar question. “So, in your Daniel series, are you taking a premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial position?”

He replied, “To tell you the truth, I really haven’t figured that out yet.”

I was shocked! He’s using kingdom language in the bulletin to motivate Christian service and is preparing to preach from Daniel (a book announcing the triumphant arrival of God’s kingdom), but he hasn’t answered some of the most important questions regarding the doctrine of the kingdom.

Fortunately, this scene did not take place in a Regular Baptist church. In fact, I can’t imagine this scene happening in any Regular Baptist church, because premillennialism, especially dispensational premillennialism, has always been a hallmark of our association. However, even within Regular Baptist churches, do most church members truly understand the far-reaching implications of kingdom theology?

Kingdom themes pepper people’s language, missions programs, church bulletins, songs, books, and many other church-related activities. Devoid of adequate understanding, people employ phrases like “working to build the kingdom” and “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” The consequences of misunderstanding are deep and wide. Even the gospel itself is at stake unless viewed through a proper kingdom lens. Grasping the practical applications of kingdom theology is vital for our mission, both personally and corporately.