Yesterday I posed the question: What is the purpose of church? It seems, at least based upon the comments left, that many of us agree on the answer to this question.
Yet, as I set out to write this post, I did a little research to see how others answered this question. There are wildly varying answers, to be sure. After a quick Google search, I found thousands of articles and blog posts asking this very same question, each with a different answer.
Some say that the purpose of the church is to evangelize. Others say that the Great Comission sums up the Church’s purpose. Even C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says “the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs.”
But dare I say that I disagree with C.S. Lewis…because I do. I don’t disagree entirely, but I think the sole purpose of the Church is something different…
When you strip it all down, and really look at God’s Word, I believe the purpose of the church is to glorify and worship God as a collective body of believers. Our purpose is not to simply (or only) make disciples. It is not to evangelize or feed the poor. It is not even to make “little Christs” as Lewis explains.
But, rather as the apostle John wrote: But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit andtruth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (John 4:23)
I believe that many of the actions listed above are functions or by-products of the church, but they are not the main purpose of the Church. It may sound like semantics, but the distinction is an important one.
The Body of Christ does not exist to convert others or preach the Gospel. We exist to bring glory to God as His holy ones. The result of which, when practiced in line with scripture then results in the feeding of the poor, the Gospel preached, and disciples being made.
The results we desire to see in the Church spring forth from understanding our true purpose. Not the other way around.
Secondly, the church exists to edify and equip the saints. This one, it seems, a lot of Christians have a hard time swallowing. I have known believers who think that a Sunday morning service or home group should be almost entirely seeker-focused. They feel convinced that a Sunday morning message must feed the lost and not the body.
Spending more than 2 minutes in the book of 1corinthians should convince us otherwise. The body exists to edify believers and build up the church as a whole. Paul never mentions those who are yet to know Christ in 1Corinthians. Instead, he addresses the unique members of the body and emphasizes the need for each part:
“…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor…But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1Cor 12:22-26)
To be clear, I don’t disagree with C.S. Lewis that one of the functions of the Church should be to make “little Christs.” However, I do not believe this is the reason the Church exists. It exists to glorify God as we worship Him as His body and it exists to edify one another.
A world filled with Christ-followers is and should be the result of achieving our purpose. The Holy Spirit, here, among us, and indwelling in us, has given us the power to do so. But only in recognizing and accomplishing our first and true purposes can we truly reach those who are yet to know the One.
Do you agree or disagree with my answer tot he question? What do you think is the purpose of the Church? Have you ever thought strictly in terms of reaching the lost and not edifying the saints (I have)? How can the Church fulfill its purpose?