Dallas Willard on the kingdom and church growth

From “Kingdom Living“:

As regards the kingdom of God? Theologians such as Ladd say that the kingdom is both present and absent, but this basically means we focus on the absent! But I didn’t come to understand the kingdom through theologians. I came to the understanding when I was a young Baptist Minister. I noticed that I spent a lot of my time trying to get people to come and hear me, and other ministers did the same. But when I looked at Jesus his problem was getting away from people! So I said there has to be something different here. So I found what every scholar will tell you, that Jesus’ message was the kingdom of God. He proclaimed it, he manifested it and he taught it. When he sent out his disciples, he didn’t send them out to teach (that’s the hard part), but to proclaim and manifest (the easy part!) It was very powerful. …

When you look at the Bible you see that the kingdom of God is God acting. It is the range of God’s effective will. When I pray ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done’ I am praying first that God’s will may be done in my own life and then around me. This is the open door for his teachings, for it is his effective will that I bless and don’t curse, that I let my yes be yes and my no be no, that I not be motivated by anger and contempt etc … (as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount). So as someone who is living in the kingdom, I am praying that this may become a true expression of who I am by inner transformation. Discipleship is learning how to do that.