The Kingdom of God is truly both/and. There are twin dangers: If we get so focused on the spiritual that we ignore temporal needs, we’re not living like Jesus did, and so no wonder people are critical. On other hand, we can’t forget the very last thing Jesus told us to do: make disciples (Matt 28:19-20). So we must help people deal with their eternal state, AND be people who are fully like Jesus, living as Jesus did.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
When I worked with the original core team for our church plant, we felt some tension around the both/and, the temporal and the spiritual. A team member raised a concern: that he wanted to serve others without any hidden agenda, giving freely rather than giving in order to try to get people to make a faith commitment. His point was valid. We decided that we would serve as Jesus served: whether people were responsive to the gospel or not, we would serve them anyway with no agenda or expectation. At the same time, we committed ourselves to Jesus’ command to make disciples. As we are serving, we are actively keeping our eyes and ears attuned for those who are spiritually open. And we will engage in spiritual dialogue, share the gospel, and encourage others to become followers of Jesus.
We are doing both—not serving SO we can make disciples, but serving AND making disciples. That’s an important distinction for our church. It’s easy for people to go one way or the other, but we really need both. Dividing the temporal from the spiritual is an artificial forced choice. Worse than that, either one without the other doesn’t work—each one alone invalidates itself—cheating people out of the richness and fullness of the Kingdom.