Purpose of Church

Today I've just been thinking about the role of the church in this world. I've been doing some reading from a number of different authors, and it seems that people are looking for "the one" purpose of the church. Some authors will say that "worship" is the one purpose of the church, and all other purposes support that or derive from that. Other authors have said that "making disciples" is the one purpose of the church, and that all other purposes support or derive from that. Or maybe evangelism is the one purpose, or ministry to the poor? My question is why does the church have to have only one dominant purpose? Does evangelism lead to disciple making which leads to worship, or does disciplemaking lead to worship which leads to evangelism, or does worship lead to...

I'm not sure that it's always healthy to try to crytallize or simplify the purpose of the church. A statement like "we are a disciplemaking church" is a good thing. But isn't the church much more than that? What about loving and feeding the poor? Jesus had compassion on blind people and lepers and prostitutes, but He didn't necessarily always take them under His wing for the next six weeks for a small group discipleship class. He simply loved them. And He spoke truth into their lives. But He didn't make them all disciples. Did He? Yet He did command YOU and I to make disciples, of all nations, and to baptize them, and to teach them everything He commanded. So we must do that, but does our duty begin and end there? Is everything else of some lesser importance?

What about worship? Some prominent authors of late have said that worship is the first purpose of the church. But can that be? I mean, I love to worship, and in heaven we will do nothing else. But isn't there more to be done here on earth? Of course, you can define worship as absolutely anything you can think of that you want to be worship (Lord, I am cleaning my bathroom floor right now in Jesus name as an act of worship to You), and then everything is worship and nothing isn't worship, as long as your heart authentically believes that it's worship, and then of course the number one purpose of the church can be worship because anything the church does will be worship because of how you have defined worship. That seems to be the underlying theme of the "worship lifestyle" movement. Of course, any good idea taken to its logical extreme becomes a bad idea. But humanity naturally takes things to the extreme. I doubt that lifestyle worship will be the pattern we follow in heaven. Scripture seems to bear out that we will be praying and singing and bowing on our knees in awe of God as worship, not that we will be worshiping Him with our normal "walking around" cleaning the bathroom floor lives. I am more of the conviction that God desires us to step away from our everyday lives when we worship Him, to lay all of that at His feet and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, with a pure heart, with singing and thanksgiving and raised hands and postrate bodies, in awe of and in love with Him. It takes a lot of interpretation and exposition of scripture to get to the idea that putting my clothes on in the morning can be an act of worship if I want it to.


mathu_28 said...

Deep thoughts.
In regards to the first section referring to Church classifications. I would agree that its not good for anyone to try to solidify a single purpose for any given fellowship using the definition you used.
What i might say in addition to your thoughts, God has called us to be faithful. In Acts the Holy Spirit says to Paul that he should preach "I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."
Do we know the best how to work out our Salvation? We have these good deeds to prove, but God does not need them to be glorified. How can we know what is the proper way to approach God?
I am convinced that God is calling his Church to a solid purpose. To be come Faithful followers of Christ. The wonder of this mystery is the arguement of wether distinct fellowships must encompass this collectively or individually. Its clear to me when I speak to God through his Word that regardless of how I connect with God, his spirit speak to the faithful. Does that mean he speaks to the perfect, the clean, the righteous only? Define these things in your own mind, then research them in the Word. That could keep us busy for weeks. But back to my point. If the purpose of God's church is (from re-birth to ressurection) the spiritual growth of men/women as faithful followers of Christ in its various facets, then how can we define how we do that? Well one answer is yours - like people attract like audiences.
can we stay faithful with others that we connect with? Well yeah thats a no-brainer. Or is it?
An example, I met with a Christian- a member of our church last night, and he unloaded a heap of stuff on me that he is going though. He and I are from completely different worlds socially, to say the least. But onething that we both really connected on - he was amazed at how many "Christians" have little or no desire to share thier faith or even with other Christians. He was starving for someone to just "sit and talk" about the Lord. This should not be. We all talk. We all need to talk about Jesus. We all need to talk about what we don't know about our Savior - and it needs to be ok if there are things we don't know.

In my life worship only begins to come when I am able to look at who i am in Christ and wht his promise really means to me individually. At this point i realize that this world really dosent have the last laugh, and then my distractions are lifted, and I see clearly my purpose. Indeed I go through this almost daily. Is my purpose the same every day?????????????????????????????????
Big arguments ensuing!!!!!!!

I say yes. there are many gifts, but one Spirit. Romans 12 God speaks of offering our bodies as sacrifices as our act of worship. So how do i do this? Well I could follow the "suggestions" of the Bible. Need I point out the sarcasm in that statement. This is keeping me in a round room that keeps pointing back to a fundamental fact that the Church is assembled to make each of us more spiritually mature faithful followers of Christ. Preaching, Teaching, Prophecy, encouragement, providing for the needs of others (especially those in the body) all gifts to EQUIP us to understand how we can please the spirit with our faithfulness. In acts 20 where we establish the Sunday meeting we see that Preaching in fact killed someone. Heh just kidding but even then it was to establish the authority of God and that the faithfulness of Paul was rewarded by the return of the mans life. The purpose of the Church is in fact to Equip each other to have the ability to prove our repentance by our good deeds. Is there any fellowship out there that can say they dont need that? How we do it is negotiable to a point, but foundatonally what we are about must always come back to making/becoming faithful followers of Christ, and thats prophecy.

Good blog Ken!

Ken said...

Thanks Mark. I agree that discipleship is only "a" purpose of the church, not "the" purpose.
Re: Acts 20. Nothing puts a person to sleep faster than a longwinded preacher! I bet Apollos could keep the crowd awake!! :-)