When religious kingdoms fall, the Kingdom of God wins

By Lee Kemp 

Today, I write this post with a burdened heart. 

I am filled with an overwhelming desire to see established churches receive church plants and support them. For them to view church planting as an opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God. For them to take on the awesome privilege of incubating a baby body of believers instead of being consumed by advancing personal religious kingdoms. For them to pass the ball to teammates, instead of attempting to win the game in glorious pride.

When churches operate with this biblical mindset, the church walls fall down, religious kingdoms that separate local believers crumble, and the kingdom of God wins!

Macedonian Model

When we look at the New Testament we see the Apostle Paul calling on churches to support other local churches. We watch as they not only give financially to these churches, but give of themselves as well, sending the encouragement and spiritual support that only arrives with the physical presence of fellow believers.

Even more captivating, and definitely profound, was that the Macedonians, to Paul’s surprise, radically assisted and overwhelmed Paul with their willingness to hold up his ministry…

1 “Moreover, brothers, we want you to experience the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, 2 how in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty overflowed toward the riches of their generous giving. 3 For I bear record that according to their means, and beyond their means, they freely gave, 4 begging us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of ministering to the saints. 5 This they did, not as we expected. First, they gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this gracious deed for you. 7 But as you abound in everything—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love to us—see that you abound in this grace also.”

2 Corinthians 8:1-8 (emphasis added)

Paul was surprised by the Macedonians’ radical willingness to be braces for his ministry namely because they were in a season of “great trial” and “deep poverty.”

When I reflect on our current realities as a Convention, it is apparent what we desire and seek… souls saved and vibrant churches experiencing a state of revival. I also understand our realities in the American church are not “great trial” and “deep poverty.” I am not ignoring that our religious liberties are being battled in the name of “tolerance.” However, we are not in a state of defending our liberties to the point where we may wave the banner of “great trial” over our spiritual state.

The Tension & Truth

One real tension church planters currently feel is the need for more “open handed” support…

  • It’s not always about money
  • Could be a physical need, such as a place to gather
  • Could be people (although beware of a planter who wants more than a handful, may not be planting the gospel, but rather just starting another church service.)
  • Could be around an event, where a helping church provides the physical blessings while giving the church plant the credit

As a church plant, we have been incredibly gifted with the biblical support of a church thus minded! Grand Avenue Baptist in Fort Smith. Not only did they take us under their wing physically, allowing us to meet for a year in their youth center, but they also have constantly supported us in the ways mentioned above.

For two years they have partnered with us, providing all the turkey dinners we need to distribute in our Timberline community, while giving us all the credit and allowing us to make the spiritual connections!

Who wins in this situation? Is it Forefront Church? Is it Grand Avenue Baptist?

Wrong question.

What wins? The kingdom wins!

Quick Filters for a Kingdom Winning Strategy

As pastors and staff, are we truly seeking to advance the Kingdom of God, in whatever that may be, or do we spend, seek, protect, and build around our own religious kingdom? How are we and/or how can we partner with church planting in light of all of our current resources?

We are thankful for churches that support Dixie Jackson, for they are partnering and supporting church planting, throwing the ball down court, and allowing the freshmen to score!

And that’s a kingdom win for sure.


What “radical” living teaches my kids & church

By Lee Kemp 

My kids are like me, they love adventure. People used to ask me, “Is living in a two-bedroom apartment necessary? You are a family of seven. Isn’t this a little too radical? Can’t you live in a nicer neighborhood and just go to Timberline?” But we couldn’t do that.

My neighbor is a stripper. Another is a prostitute. There are policemen constantly driving through the complex. We don’t let our kids go outside by themselves.

But what am I teaching my kids if I don’t do this? Someone once said: “We may teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are.”

I’ll give you a recent example of this. There’s a guy at Forefront Church who is praying about planting a church in another complex. His family has been kind of critical about it, and someone asked, “If your pastor wants you to go live in a rough apartment complex, why doesn’t he?” The conversation ended when he said, “He already has.”

{ My neighbor is a stripper. Another is a prostitute. There are policemen constantly driving through the complex. We don’t let our kids go outside by themselves. But what am I teaching my kids if I don’t do this? }

What am I showing my kid if I don’t go all in? My kids are going to have this half-based faith. If I don’t want my kids to live like that, then I don’t want to live like that.

Even the businessmen who supported our ministry initially thought we were crazy. One of them told me later, “Lee, I thought you were just a squirrel. We gave you six months tops to quit and move out of the complex. People who talk like you talk, they quit.”

Well, when I stuck around, they said “We’ll keep funding!” They came back on when they saw I was here to stay.

You can’t quit on the vision God’s given you. I think he gives us all a specific calling, and if you don’t answer that call he’s going to send somebody else and you will miss out on what’s unique to you and him. It’s like God says, “I want you to do this Lee, and I want you to do it with me.”

{ …if you don’t answer that call He’s going to send somebody else and you will miss out on what’s unique to you and Him. }

Making it all work

When we first moved into the apartment complex, we had three kids and one on the way. (A baby has never stopped us!) Sarah and I took the guest bedroom and gave our kids the main bedroom. The two girls were in the bedroom, and our son was in the walk-in closet. We made it a man-cave and built a loft bed that was attached to the wall; we made it feel like a duck-blind!

Honestly, it’s been great. If I wasn’t a married man I would live here all the time, I really would. But I have a family. People ask what we’ll do when our girls are grown and our son is 12. We want this ministry to be fun for our kids. I want to show my kids we can go on adventures with Jesus, but I also want to take care of them. If it’s not exciting to them, then sometimes we need a break.

 { I want to show my kids we can go on adventures with Jesus, but I also want to take care of them. }

Taking a break, restoring roots

When you deploy a soldier you don’t deploy him forever.

The complex we lived in, it wore us down. We lived there for almost two years until another church in town offered us a six-month stay in their mission house. After that, we still felt like we needed a break and my wife was pregnant, so we did a one-year lease in a historic district in town.

It was a big house. We used that season to entertain and have people over often, just practicing hospitality. Because we had so many people over my kids would always ask, “Who are we having over tonight?”

A couple from our church stayed in the apartment complex while we were gone. They needed a break, and even though we had asked another couple in the church who might be ready to take their place, the more and more we thought about it we felt the Lord was bringing us back. As our lease came up we felt like it was time to come back to the apartment.

The break brought us back to our roots. We just moved back in, and this go-round we have five kids! The girls have the bunk beds in the main bedroom, our son is back in the walk-in closet and the baby is in our room. We plan to do this for another year and a half.

My hope is that by doing something “radical,” Forefront Church would be willing to be radical!