Kingdomizing: Discipling Whole Cultures

Paul Dean
Paul Dean
2019 4 Nov

Here’s a word about the Great Commission and full-orbed discipleship. We’ve certainly deepened our understanding of the Lord’s command over time -- it’s not a command to merely go, but to make disciples as we go; it’s not a command about discipling geo-political states, but the myriad people-groups that make up the world -- things like that. But Darrow Miller takes another step forward. He talks about discipling whole nations. It’s not that we’re to disciple people out of every people group, though we are, but there’s more to it. Disciple-making spreads as new disciples are made; it spreads throughout entire cultures. Beyond that, disciple-making is not merely about evangelism, teaching doctrine, and teaching to obey, it’s also about inculcating a thorough-going biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of Jesus’ disciples.

We can apply these principles to numerous life-situations, not the least of which is missions and relief. Missionaries and relief workers have a heart for God and people; they work hard at spreading the gospel and helping others. However, by way of example, sometimes they adopt less than biblical worldviews to help impoverished persons. Evolution says there’s nothing more than the physical world and the limited resources it contains. When Christian relief workers blame a lack of resources for generational poverty and sometimes write whole countries off, they buy into such a worldview. They buy into the same worldview as those calling for population control or the Elon Musk’s of the world desperately seeking a way to move to Mars when our planet is used up.

Others adopt a Marxist approach to aid rooted in wealth redistribution or Critical Theory. Woke Culture has slipped into the church as calls for a re-ordering of the social structure reverberate throughout the evangelical world.

Then there are those missionaries who want to save souls and merely feed the hungry along the way. They give them fish, a good thing, but they’re not interested in training them to catch fish. Why bother with such when Jesus is coming soon? Certainly, we recognize dispensational underpinnings here. At the same time, there’s a sense in which, at a worldview level, a sort of neo-animistic understanding has taken hold. If evolution says ultimate reality is only physical, animism says that ultimate reality is only spiritual. An animistic influence is at work when we downplay the importance of this world’s connection to the kingdom and focus solely on Heaven.

God’s word presents a different vision. Contra evolution, God has given us resources of which we’re unaware at the present time. He’s also given us minds for creativity and innovation. Subduing the earth takes on new meaning in light of that reality, particularly when it’s connected to the Great Commission. Contra Marxism, that reality also militates against evil redistribution and/or revolution schemes that contradict biblical principles including the goodness and necessity of work; biblical justice as opposed to so-called social justice; as well as compassion and mercy to name a few. Contra animism, this world and its people are important to God, the kingdom is to be brought to bear in the here and now, and certain cultural goods will last into eternity. Therefore, as Miller says, our goal is nothing short of a radical reorientation of a person’s life. As this reorientation spreads, whole cultures are discipled. I would describe it as the creation of a kingdom citizen who has kingdom understanding and kingdom goals and engages in, to borrow another word from Miller, kingdomizing activities. We’re talking about people who take seriously the words of our Lord when He taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” 

Dr. Dean and Christi Johnson invite you to learn more about God, His world, and yourself. Listen to their podcast, True Worldview, and find other helpful resources there as well.