Purpose of the Church

What is the purpose of the church? With today’s digital communication age people may want to and actually there are some churches that meet online. People might just want to watch a service on television or listen to a sermon on the radio. 

Joel Osteen always tells people to attend a Bible believing church and David Jeremiah also says the same. 

Here is something I wrote up several years ago on the purpose of the church: 

I believe that there are five major purposes of the local church. These are fellowship, evangelism, worship, ministry, and discipleship. The local church must have fellowship with one another. This could be in dinners, games, concerts, etc. (1John 1:2, 7; Acts 2:42) The local church must be continuing the great commission in evangelism. (Matt 28:19) The local church must Disciple their members. (Matt 28:19) The local church must give the opportunity for worship as well as ministry in the Body of believers. (Rev 4:8; John 4:23-24) (Acts 6:1-7; Eph 4:11-12; Gal 6:10; Heb 10:24) We must give people the opportunity to use their spiritual gifts and serve people as Christ served us. All those purposes are equally important. 

Rick Warren’s book Purpose Driven Church is written about those purposes. Certainly they are all important, but discipleship should lead people to evangelism, ministry, worship and fellowship. You also cannot have true fellowship, discipleship, or worship without evangelism. People have to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior before being discipled or truly worshipping or true fellowship. 

So, the resources online, on the radio and on television are great, but with only those we are missing community. God surrounds Christians with a network of other Christians to help carryout the great commission, to help disciple, to help worship and to help minister to those in need. True fellowship is not simply hanging out but surrounded by God’s Word. I would ask any who say that their church is listening to television ministries, or radio, or something online what their motivation is. If it is because they have had problems at one certain church, it is likely that their motivation is actually pride. Though there might have been actual problems at the church, we all must sacrifice for community. Now certainly for shut ins, etc those ministries on the radio, television and online are great. 

Praise God for the church. One youth wrote this: [the purpose of the church is] to gather in the house of God to remember reflect and think about the week behind you and week before you. It is to draw you closer to God within a group to be with your church family and those who support you. its an amazing place really. Thanks for that comment. 

Feel free to comment.

Salt and light

Interesting note on Matthew 5:13-16 that Jesus talks about salt and light. In “The Cost of Discipleship” pages 116-117 Bonhoeffer points out that Jesus says, “you are the salt” and later “you are the light.” This is as opposed to “You must be the salt” or “You must be the light.” That is a subtle but major difference. It is not for the disciple to decide to be salt and light. A Christian is to be salt and light. Now, Jesus does talk about salt losing its savor and that is an interesting thought about Christians. If Christians are salt and we aren’t, then where is our Christianity? Just some thoughts…

Bonhoeffer, the cost of discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Cost of Discipleship talks about the Meek inheriting the earth from Matthew 5:5. on page 109 he writes: “They will not go to law to defend their rights, or make a scene when they suffer injustice, nor do they insist on their legal rights. They are determined to leave their rights to God alone. — non cupidi vindictae, as the ancient church paraphrased it. Their right is in the will of their Lord– that and no more. They show by every word and gesture that they do not belong to this earth. Leave heaven to them, says the world in its pity, that is where they belong.” there is a footnote that says, “Emperor Julian wrote mockingly in a letter (No. 43) that he only confiscated the property of Christians so as to make them poor enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What is the proper response for Christians when we do have a voice in the government and our Christian rights are violated?

The Grace and Truth Paradox chapter 4, pages 37-42

Below are some exerts that stood out to me in this short chapter:
• Jesus is the truth. He is the truth personified. He is the source of truth and the reference point for evaluating all truth claims. That’s why if we get it wrong about Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else we get right. All truth has a center of gravity: Jesus Christ, who declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). (page 38)
• The devil is a con man, always denying , revising, and spinning the truth, rearranging the price tags. (page 39)
• Truth is not about our own perceptions and desires. It is about reality. Many may agree that we would like gravity suspended tomorrow, but our vote would have no impact on reality. (page 39)
Wow! I found those to be some really strong and true thoughts! What do you think? Go back to Genesis chapter three and we can see the devil changing the Truth. Add any thoughts you wish. Have a blessed week!

mission trip and devotion

This week is our local mission encounter. I love this as it is an intentional opportunity for our church and other churches to intentionally serve our local community. Please keep this in prayer. I am leading the devotion tomorrow morning. My short focus will be:

Philippians 2:3-4 (my thoughts are below)

New International Version (NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

I want to give you a pat on the back because this is what you are doing this week. This week you are taking your own interests and sitting them aside in order to put first the interests of others.
But to go a step further… Are you really doing this in mindset?
verse 3 says to not do anything for selfish thinking… This is beyond your actions but your thinking.
verse 3 says to value others more than yourselves. This has to do with actions and thinking.
Then verse 4 is also thinking and actions.
If Christians did this all the time I truly believe everyone would want to be a Christian.
Can we do this all the time? Can we sacrifice for the good of the many all the time?
If so, we are not just sacrificing for the person next door or the person we don’t know, but sacrificing for Jesus.
Romans 12:1-2:
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Have a great week in the Lord Jesus!

The Grace and Truth Paradox chapter 3

this is a very short chapter beginning on page 27 and going through page 35. He begins with a story. I have used this story in a sermon:
What is grace? “Nancy and I spent an unforgettable day in England with Phil and Margaret Holder. Margaret was born in China to missionary parents with China Inland Mission. In 1939, when Japan took control of Eastern China, thirteen-year-old Margaret was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. There she remained, separated from her parents, for six years.
Margaret told us stories about a godly man called ‘Uncle Eric.’ He tutored her and was deeply loved by all the children in the camp. We were amazed to discover that ‘Uncle Eric’ was Eric Liddell, ‘The Flying Scot,’ hero of the movie Chariots of Fire. Liddell shocked the world by refusing to run the one hundred meters in the 1924 Paris Olympics, a race he was favored to win. He withdrew because the qualifying heat was on a Sunday. Liddell won a gold medal—and broke a world record—in the four hundred meters, not his strongest event. Later he went as a missionary to China. When war broke out, he sent his pregnant wife and his daughters to safety. Imprisoned by the Japanese, he never saw his family in this world again. Suffering with a brain tumor, Eric Liddell died in 1945, shortly after his forty-third birthday.

Through fresh tears, Margaret told us, ‘It was a cold February day when Uncle Eric died.’
At times it seemed unbearable to be cut off from their homes and families. But Margaret spoke with delight of ‘care packages falling from the sky’—barrels of food and supplies dropped from American planes.

One day Margaret and the other children were lined up as usual to count off for roll call. Suddenly an American airplane flew low. They watched it circle and drop more of those wonderful food barrels. But as the barrels came near the ground, the captives realized something was different. Her eyes bright, Margaret told us, ‘This time the barrels had legs!’ the sky was full of American soldiers, parachuting down to rescue them.
Margaret and several hundred children rushed out of the camp, past Japanese guards who offered no resistance. Free for the first time in six years, they ran to the soldiers that were raining down everywhere. They threw themselves on their rescuers, hugging and kissing them. (pages 27-28)
The free gifts the Americans gave the children were grace. But Eric Liddell also lived with Truth. The Truth was in the Scriptures.
Did anything stand out to you in this chapter?
We see Grace and Truth in the parable of the Prodigal Son which can be found in Luke 15:11-32. I will be preaching on that passage this Sunday. My title will be “God as our Father, Full of Grace and Mercy.”
Have a great week!