loren Eric Swanson: Kingdom Playgrounds...in Omaha

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kingdom Playgrounds...in Omaha

Got some good news from Ian Vickers from Christ Community Church in Omaha yesterday. Ian is a great guy--former church planter in France where he helped plant nine churches--not a small feat for any country in western Europe. He is now serving as director of their community ministry. A couple of months ago they handed out $20K to the congregation as the first part of a "Kingdom Assignment." The multiplied total that was turned in Sunday was $238K!

After church 1,400 people from CCC got on busses, served a bag lunch and were driven to one of 35 sites in the community where they painted, cleaned up, fixed up. One group of 25 went to the youth detention center and played basketball with the boys and ordered in pizza. The kids were overwelmed with the kindness of 25 adults. "It was like taking 1,400 people on a mission trip." The best part was that 438 of the 1,400 signed up to be involved in the organizations / institutions they served!

At a local hospital, where nutritionists figured out a healthy diet for starving children, the youth involved in this day of service put together packets of rice, vitamin-enriched chicken bullion, soy protein, etc that blend together for a tasty meal. How many meals? Get this...85,000 meals that will go in a container of medical supplies that will be shipped to Mali in September where CCC has been working for a number of years. Wow!

Monday Ian got on a plane and flew to the gulf coast to continue with the rebuilding. Working with a local church, the local pastor took Ian to a building that they were hoping to buy for their church one day. Now get this...as they were praying, the denominational superintendant AND the owner of the building showed up independently of one another and the papers were drawn up on the spot. Just an average weekend for a kingdom worker.... Every-day people using their talents to build the kingdom.

I love the words of Robert Lupton in his monograph on “Kingdom Playgrounds” where he paints such a compelling picture of using everyday talents for the kingdom.

Strange things happen in kingdom playgrounds. Adults become children and learn to play again. They bring their best tools and talents (the toys of the kingdom) and dream together. They invent ingenious methods to feed and clothe the poor, methods that enhance rather than destroy. They create new economics in destitute neighborhoods, and build homes and businesses and hope where despair has reigned.

In these kingdom playgrounds, impossibilities become probabilities and visions become reality. Here children discover the secrets of how kingdom magic really works.

In kingdom playgrounds God’s children play with great intensity. At times they may grow weary, but they are never bored. They learn that their gifts, which they once thought were useful only for making money in the marketplace, are the exact abilities needed to work in God’s kingdom. In these unlikely places, Gods children discover that the serious work of eternity is simply the joyful employment of the talents they desire most to express….[After the work is done] [t]hey return once again to their adult obligations, not knowing that they were never created to be adults anyway: “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)[1]

[1] Lupton, Robert, Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America. Harper, San Francisco (1989) p. 88


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