COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Baptist Convention, where the nationwide Southern Baptist Missions Movement ‘Empowering Kingdom Growth’ originated, began new workshop for the spiritual planning of churches in the denomination, entitled, ‘Thy Kingdom Come.” Some 150 leaders from 15 states partook in the first TKG conference, which was held at Columbia S.C., March 15-19, marking the first time a state convention hosted a national meeting in the SBC.
According to the Baptist Press – the SBC’s newsletter, the SCBC developed both EKG and TKC as a means to provide church planning and growth, because there were no other programs made specifically for the church, by the church.
"We really couldn't find anything, so we designed our own," Carlisle Driggers, SCBC executive director-treasurer and co-chairman of the national EKG Task Force, told Baptist Press. "I had worked on an outline for quite some time and then gave it to our writing team so they could flesh it out. We called it 'Thy Kingdom Come' because Jesus prayed, 'Thy kingdom come on this earth even as it is in heaven.'"
The first “field-test” for the TKC was done in 1998 on churches across South Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Jersey and California. Following the successful results, more state conventions began requesting for training sessions. Driggers, who decided to host the meeting in March in response to those requests, said it would be interesting to see what will come of the training sessions.
"Who knows what God can do with it in years to come," he said. "This is a practical, easy-to-use, simple-to-teach way for churches to plan their work."
There are five key points to the TKC planning: spiritual preparation, vision/values, results, strengths and learnings while addressing worship, evangelism, spiritual growth, ministry development, congregational life and missions.
According to Driggers, Spiritual preparation involves a time of introspection for the leaders of the church.
"What we say to the churches many times is, 'Don't put anything on paper as far as desired results until you have come to the conclusion that this is what God wants for you,'" Driggers said. "And if you study Scripture long and hard enough, you're going to come out saying Jesus calls us to the Kingdom when He says seek first the Kingdom.
"That is very clearly His purpose for His church -- to be Kingdom-focused people," he continued. "That's greater than church growth. Church growth is part of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom includes the whole world, so it's a worldwide vision."
Once a church begins to understand their purpose from studying Scripture and praying, Driggers said they then begin putting in place the vision and values -- a brief vision statement or at least a clear understanding of the church's vision as they are attempting to be Kingdom people.
After identifying the vision and values, the church can then begin to look ahead a few years and ask what results they hope to have by then.
"For instance, 'Two years from now we would like to start a new church or have 50 volunteers going somewhere to do mission work or be involved in hunger relief or housing or witnessing to so many people,'" Driggers said. "It's not that the North American Mission Board or a state convention would be telling the church they need to do it, but the church itself would be praying and seeking God's will for the results."
"For so many years we have been thinking about what needs to be corrected in a church, asking, 'What's wrong with us? What are we not doing right? What is it that we're not good at and need to do better?'" Driggers said. "That's backwards. We pray for God to bless us, and He does. But then we forget about the blessings and want to deal with what's wrong with us.
"So we're saying, 'Find out what the strengths of your church are -- worship, ministry, evangelism, mission work or whatever -- and ask what you can do to make those better year by year," he said. "Not ignoring the weaknesses but learning to manage them so they don't manage us."
Finally, TKC recommends that leaders constantly assess progress and learn what the church can improve upon.
Thy Kingdom Come is available in two formats: a workbook format subtitled, "Preparing Your Church for Kingdom Growth," and a more intensive four- to six-month package called "Fast-Forwarding Your Church's Future." For more information about Thy Kingdom Come, contact the South Carolina Baptist Convention at (803) 765-0030 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The convention's website is www.scbaptist.org.