Getting on with the Work of the Kingdom

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

While I was off on retreat in the Gatineaus over the course of the weekend, David Fitch published an excellent post calling the church to continued action and engagement, in that upside-down, kingdom-of God-kind of way.

Obama may have been elected, but that doesn’t mean we abdicate our own responsibility in seeing God’s kingdom come more fully to earth. Surely, while Obama’s election does signal change, and a potentially positive change at that, the church still needs to be the church, going about God’s business. Getting back to work this morning, I appreciate Fitch’s observations and his critique:

The kingdom’s work is always small (Matt 13:31-32), close to the ground (Matt 25:32-40) and subversive to the powers (Eph 6:2). This speaks to the fact that we really cannot expect too much from the new president. It is why I felt compelled to say earlier “Go ahead and vote, just don’t expect too much.” Instead, let us now get back to the primary call on our lives, nurturing communities of God’s justice, salvation, and reconciliation in the world.

The danger of Obama is that everybody wants to be part of something big but the kingdom is usually small (It’s like a mustard seed). Let us not look to something big like the Obama presidency to bring in Christ’s justice. I fear the young emerging missional Christians have just shot their entire energy outtake for 2008-2009 into getting Obama elected. I fear we sit euphoric (if exhausted) as if to say we did it, its accomplished. And now the daily life engagements for Christ and his salvation/justice do not seem near as exciting. This is the danger of Barack Obama to the emerging/missional churches.

So I respectfully ask, based on the above, that all young emerging/ missional Christians not get their hopes up. The sheer volume of antagonistic e-mails I’ll get for saying that reveals the ideological spell we are all locked into. In the midst of the new political euphoria however, I respectfully ask the emerging/missional church people to get on with being the church, the subversive micropolitics that actually can, under the Lordship of Christ, bring in the Reign of God, subvert the Empire, bring in the Kingdom of God on the ground.

Emerging leaders read Hardt and Negri, understand Empire and let’s have a good discussion about it. I loved Tuesday night, yet, if given a choice, I would have preferred Tuesday night’s revival meeting have been in a church- or in a park with the cross at the center, recognizing Jesus as Lord. Blessings to us all as we seek to navigate being and doing God’s justice in the name of Jesus in this new world we have post Wall Street Bailout, post pres. George W Bush, post gas guzzling SUV’s.

What do you think the danger of Obama is for the new emerging missional churches of America?

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Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

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