The Purpose Of The Church


What is the purpose of the church? What is the church supposed to do? Is it supposed to do anything other than serve as a meeting place for Believers to gather for potluck fellowships on occasion?

Defining terms is always a helpful place to start. What is purpose? Purpose is the reason for which something exists, was made, or created;  an intended or desired result.

Let’s do some contrasting.

Q: What’s the purpose of a hammer?
A: To hit a nail

Q: What’s the purpose of a bat?
A: To hit a ball

In general, the purpose of a bat and a hammer are similar, to hit something but specifically they are not the same. You would not be a very effective baseball player using a hammer to hit a baseball or a very effective carpenter using a bat to drive nails.

If a church desires to be effective, it would be a good idea to know it’s purpose. So what is the purpose of the church, the reason for which it exists or was intended? Everyone you ask has thoughts concerning the church’s purpose but are those things based on Biblical examples and teaching?

What does the Bible have to say concerning the purpose of the church? What examples does it provide?

THE GREAT COMMISSION

Matthew 28:
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(ESV)

Mark 16:
14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”(ESV)

PETER’S SERMON AT PENTECOST

Acts 2:
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them:

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.(ESV)

If we examine the accounts of the Great Commission, Jesus’ last instructions to His disciples, and Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, what can we determine to be the main purposes of the church?

Proclaim The Gospel/Evangelize The Lost

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Disciple Believers

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Baptism and The Lord’s Supper

Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Worship and Praise

Matthew 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

Acts 2:46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Fellowship

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people.

The main purposes and functions of the church are fairly apparent in scripture but the methods and means by which individual churches accomplish those purposes can be quite different. At the Basic Training for Church Planters conference we went to a few weeks back, there were several different churches represented whose mission fields were very different.

One of the primary purposes of the church is to Evangelize the Lost but how Roscoe Perry, (Pastor of New Vineyard Baptist Church in the heart of Memphis), goes about evangelism is going to be different from the way Luke Summey, (a 20-something year old skateboarder and pastor), goes about it at the Outcast Church near the campus of Tennessee Tech in Cookeville which in turn is going to be different from the way Frank Locke, (pastor at the Cowboy Church in Morrison, TN), pursues evangelism.

Mark 9:
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.(ESV)

Luke 10:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.(ESV)

                      

We are not all called to the same mission fields. Some are gathering grapes, some figs, some wheat, some olives so the methods we use to gather in the Lord’s harvest may be different but we are all called to the same purpose. Go and gather in the Lord’s harvest! Evangelize, Baptize, Disciple and Teach, Worship and Praise, Fellowship and do it all to the glory of the Lord.

~God Bless

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