Be a Kingdom Seeker

Celebrating Arrow Leadership’s 25th year, we’ve asked Arrow leaders – from class 1 to present – to share their insights on being led more by, leading more like and leading more to Jesus. Enjoy, and please post and share with others!

Be A Kingdom Seeker

When I first came to Tenth Avenue Church in Vancouver, BC in the summer of 1996, I was intimidated by the challenge of pastoring a historic church that had seen its glory years in the 1950s. Since then, church attendance had dwindled from more than 1,000 to a hundred-and-something—the remaining congregation was largely elderly, and primarily of European ancestry.Empty Church

 The church had cycled through 20 pastors (including associates) in 20 years. All of them, it seemed to me, were far more experienced and gifted than I was, yet none of them had been able to halt what seemed like a slow and inevitable death for the church.
A couple of weeks after my arrival, my mentor from the Arrow Leadership Program, Leighton Ford, came to visit and we were sitting in my car not far from the church. I felt a desperate need for encouragement, but was too ashamed to ask for that; instead, I asked for some counsel. He paused and said, “Remember that God is an artist. He will not lead you to copy anyone else. Seek God for his unique vision for this place.” 

I had been working on a series of 100-day goals, but Leighton’s words helped me to hear the Holy Spirit calling me to set those aside for a moment and instead seek God in prayer.

As I was praying one day, I had this distinct sense that the Holy Spirit was saying, “If you will bless those who cannot repay you, I will bless you.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I sensed that God was calling us to care for the poor, and for those on the margins of our society.

A homeless man named Robert began living outside our church building. One of our elders invited Robert to stay in his fully furnished laneway house free of charge. However, Robert preferred to sleep rough outside of our church building. One cold February morning, Robert didn’t wake up. He had succumbed to the cold and died. At that moment, I said that we needed to begin a ministry that will help to shelter the homeless. Looking back, the Spirit of God began moving in our old church in new ways. A stream of people from all walks of life started coming to know Jesus.

One of the most important lessons I learned through my Arrow journey was, “Don’t be an empire builder, be a Kingdom seeker.” I have tried to live this truth in my nearly two decades of ministry at Tenth. I seek direction from God in prayer and try to define true success not by our weekend attendance numbers or annual budget, but by aiming to do what is in God’s mind and heart (1 Sam. 2:35).

Just as Jesus, in the midst of his own demanding ministry, constantly sought the direction of his Father (Luke 4:42; 5:16), I feel Jesus calling me to be led moment by moment in my work. And, as I am led by Jesus, with the Spirit’s help I am also able to lead more like Him, and more to Him.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What do you sense is God’s definition of true success for your life and ministry?
  2. What kind of rhythms could you establish that would help you become more attuned to the voice of Jesus?

Ken S. - Picture 2

                                                                                                        Ken Shigematsu (Arrow Class 1) is senior pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, B.C. Before entering pastoral ministry, he worked for Sony in Tokyo. He is the author of the international bestseller God in My Everything. Ken lives in Vancouver with his wife, Sakiko, and their son, Joey.