When the church was getting underway, the Roman Empire controlled everything.
John called the Roman empire the Beast. It was the ultimate evil empire, controlling everything and destroying everything that came into its path. The Empire was actually controlled by principalities and powers, the spiritual forces of evil.
The empire controlled its empire by issuing decrees from the edges. The emperor never goes into the world. He issued decrees and sent his agents to enforce them. Caesar never visited Jerusalem. His agents Pilate and Herod maintained his control.
Peter told his followers to submit to the empire. Not because it was noble. Peter saw it as the government of men. However it was so strong, that there was not point in taking it on head on. It would fight back and the fledgling church would be crushed. It was more important to get on with preaching the gospel under the radar
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers… that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Pet 2:13-14).
As the empire weakened, it aligned itself with the growing church to preserve control.
The leaders of the church believed that they could shape the empire to achieve God’s purposes. This was not possible, because the empire was still controlled by evil principalities and powers. The empire was still based on control and coercion and not on love.
The empire eventually withered away, and the church was left in control of the western world. This was Christendom.
This was not ideal, because the church continued to rely on control and power, not on freedom and service.
The power of the church gradually weakened. The Reformation divided the church, and nation states began to emerge. The new churches relied on the state for their protection.
The leaders of the church continued to believe that they could control and shape the state. They relied on the power of the state to advance their cause, but the principalities and powers will still active. Power and control were still in ascendance.
Focusing in on one nation, the state still dominates the church.
In the last century, secularism set in and the church was squeezed out of its place of privilege.
The state still uses power and control to achieve its purposes and create a good society. The demonic principalities and power still work through the state to accomplish their purposes.
The church and the state both work from the edge of society. The government passes laws and issues decrees. It sends its agents and taxgathers to enforce its power and control.
The church operates in a similar way. People gather in the church to receive guidance and support. They then return to their neighbourhoods to live.
If the modern church wants to influence the government, it must send Christians to work in it. This is never very successful, because it is very difficult to work in the state without being corrupted by its power. The principalities and powers are still at work in the state, so those who submit to it are opening themselves up to their influence. The government works by power and control, which tends to undermine the gospel.
A better strategy is to plant churches in neighbourhoods where people are living. This is a Neighbourhood Church.
If the Holy Spirit is present in power, the church will grow quickly. When it reaches an optimal size it wills send out apostles to establish a new church in a different part of the city, possibly quite close by. More on the working of apostles can be found at the Apostolic Way.
The new church is modelled on the one that sent it, but reflects the people who belong to it.
Something else that is very important could begin to happen. In the modern world, the power of governments is weakening and standards of justice are disintegrating, so justice in the state-operated courts is costly, slow, unpredictable and uncertain. People lose all they have fighting to obtain justice.
A couple of the elders in the first church are recognised for their wisdom, so people start taking their disputes to them. Everyone recognises that their justice is honest and effective. An alternative system of justice emerges (J), when these elders are recognised as local judges. Many from outside the church take their cases to these elders because they know they will get a quick and honest resolution to their disputes.
When the economy collapses, the police will stop protecting the people, because they cannot afford to maintain patrols. A few of the people in the church start to watch out for their community. They will challenge evil people entering their neighbourhood and pray against them. Their non-violent methods will be more effective than those of the official police. An alternative system of defence is emerging (D).
One of the people in the new church is known for the effective way they home school their children. Other people who are concerned about the failing state schools ask this person if they would teach their children, too. Soon a new school is flourishing in their home (E). A couple of people from outside the church send their children to the new school, because they recognise the quality of the education being provided.
The churches continue to grow.
Two new churches come into being in new neighbourhoods.
The Kingdom continues to expand.
Deacons in the two new churches become highly skilled in caring for poor people who live among them. They take responsibility for caring for all poor people living in the area where the four churches have been established, regardless of whether they are a Christian. They have effectively established an alternative social welfare system (S). This will be really important when state welfare systems collapse.
The apostles keep on working. More churches will be established.
As the apostles fulfil their mission, the Kingdom of God grows.
New centres of justice are developed. Schools are started. Social welfare is increases the acceptance of the gospel.
Once the apostles have gone, some of the people in the original church start a business (B). They provide employment for some of the people from the churches they are linked to be the apostles. They also provide work for non-Christians who living in the same area.
And the church keeps on growing
The apostles keep on postling.
More Kingdom stuff is formed
More expansion occurs as the gospel is proclaimed mightily in the power of the spirit.
The government shrinks as its power collapses.
More churches are established
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God has come
Government has struck and disappeared.
The majority of people in the area have chosen to follow Jesus.
Some people are still not Christians and not part of church. They can get the blessing of the Kingdom.
However, they can still ignore the kingdom, if they choose. However, they will not get justice and protection from anywhere else.
See God's Strategy