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!

Philosophy of preaching, philosophy of the sermon

Below is a sermon which I preached at my last church. This sermon is based on 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and this is one of my favorite passages. I have never composed my “philosophy of preaching,” but if I had it would be similar to what is below. A philosophy is a way of think that impacts a way of acting. So, I certainly do have a philosophy of preaching as well as a philosophy of parenting, pastoring etc. I actually wrote up a philosophy of parenting a few years ago. Of course it will change as Mercedes gets older and I gain actual experience to go with knowledge. My philosophy of preaching and pastoring will change. But it must stay grounded in Scripture. 

Some quick thoughts before you read the sermon, or if you don’t have time to read the sermon. 

In Short: I do believe every sermon should have grace and truth (John 1:14). Truth is truth, and sometimes it is encouraging, but sometimes it is convicting which in the end should be encouraging if we take that conviction and make a change, Grace gives us God’s love and the ability to get through the truth. 

I believe every sermon must be filled with the Scriptures. The passage below is about preaching the Word. Preaching the Scriptures. I do nothing positive for the church if I simply tell jokes and short stories and foot note the Scripture. The Bible is God’s Word, it is God’s Revelation. That is what is important. People in native countries where the Scriptures are rare recognize that. We trivialize the Scriptures here. I know of someone who was preaching through an interpreter in a foreign country. Well this man started to tell a joke and the interpreter quit interpreting. This was because the interpreter was saving the preachers face. The people didn’t want to hear a joke, they were there for the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:15 and of course 2 Timothy 4:1-5 are about the power of the Scriptures. There is power in the Bible, and though history, psychology, archaeology, etc are important, they aren’t on the same level. 

I also do aim to apply the Scriptures to our lives today. The Bible is always relevant and will continue to be, but I do want to use “direct” application. This must come from Scripture not from me. This brings the Truth of the Word of God to our life. I am not afraid to and must never be afraid to bring God’s Truth to God’s people. Now, certainly some will not like this, that is okay. I know some will complain and call that “preachy,” but I am simply the messenger and the Word of God does convict. That is what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 talks about. 

I also hope to strive and strive and strive to use video clips, stories, quotations, and other illustrations to help people understand and apply the Scriptures. 

Also, it is interesting that a recent survey of 80,000 people showed that that 87% said they want to be taught the Bible in depth in church. 62% said they are not receiving this. 

Those are shorter comments than I intended. But I still hope to at a later point actually compose this into a nice document. As you have read the comments above and you read the sermon below, you will understand my thinking when I compose a sermon. As always, I am ready to answer questions. 


You know, I have been a member and a pastor at Wyoming Baptist Church for over four years. This is about my 220th Sunday with you. It would be around 227, but I have missed a few Sundays due to mission trips and vacations. Would you believe it? All but one of those Sundays I have heard a sermon or given the sermon, but why? 

What is the purpose of the sermon?

Why do churches have a sermon on Sundays?

What should the sermon consist of?

What if we simply sang some worship songs, had a prayer and left?

Who cares about a 20-25 minute sermon?

Who wants to think on Sundays?

Turn in your Bible to 2 Timothy 4 and I think we can all learn why we preach on Sundays.

You will see from this passage that God calls us to Biblical Preaching. Biblical Preaching is important.

Read text 2 Timothy 4:1-4:

2 Timothy 4:1-4

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“Preach the Word”

4  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Now, you may think, this is a text that doesn’t relate to you, it is for Preachers, for pastors. Predominantly you are correct, but it is important for you to understand why we need Biblical preaching and the importance of knowing Scripture. This is because by knowing the importance of Biblical preaching you may also know the importance of applying the sermon to your life.

  1. The introduction to the charge: verse 1 is an introduction to this passage.
    1. Paul is about to charge Timothy with a heavy responsibility
    2. Let me give you some quick background:
      1. 2 Timothy was likely written by Paul to Timothy in A.D. 66 or 67.
      2. Paul likely died at the hands of Caesar Nero soon after this.
        1. If we fast forward to verse 6 Paul makes it clear that he is about to die.
    3. So here Paul is about ready to die; consequently, he is about to give the young pastor Timothy a final charge
      1. Last words are important. The final instructions are meaningful.
      2. When I was in College we had to read Washington’s farewell address. It used to be that this Farewell address was normal teaching in schools. Who cares about a farewell address? Well, it is important, it is those last exhortations that a president can make to his country.
        1. Interesting that Washington said not to be a two party system, otherwise people will serve the party and not the country. Meaningful last words.
      3. Think of Jesus’ last words: Matthew 28:17-18: Go unto all the world and preach the Gospel and I am with you always
        1. I bet this was important to the disciples. As they faced trials they could remember, “Jesus is with me.” 
      4. These are Paul’s challenging last words to Timothy
    4. Look at verse 1, this charge is given in the presence of God and Christ Jesus. Notice how that is modified. Paul says that Jesus will judge the living and the dead when He comes again.
      1. It was common in the secular culture to bring a deity into an oath.
      2. An oath sworn by a deity or deities was considered especially binding and dangerous to break; in the same way, a charge witnessed by a deity or deities was sacred and inviolable. A broken oath would be avenged by the god whose name was violated; for Jewish people and Christians, the ultimate judgment was in the coming day of the Lord. (IVP Bible backgrounds Commentary)

Now let’s look at verse 2 in order to see the charge. The intensity of Paul’s feeling is evident from the use of nine imperatives in this section. Five of these appear with machine-gun precision in v. 2, and four others are in v. 5. Imperatives are usually commands.

  1. Preach the Word
    1. The Greek word for preach means to proclaim or announce. It could be used of the town crier that went around announcing news. When the people of the day heard the Greek verb used here they would not think about a discussion, nor teaching, but most likely a proclamation.
      1. Also, notice that preaching is not the same as teaching. At the end of verse 2 Paul mentions instruction. They are separate. Preaching, to me, is passionate proclamation with a purpose.
    2. Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul was already writing about Scripture
    3. What did Paul mean by “the Word”? it is likely he was talking about the Gospel. By Gospel he would not only be talking about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, but anything else that relates.
      1. I think Paul also was referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, especially since Paul was talking about Scripture in the previous verses.
      2. Much of the New Testament was likely written and circulated by now and I wonder if Paul had that in mind. From 1 Corinthians 14:37 we can tell Paul knew he was writing Scripture.
    4. What does Paul say next? Be ready, or prepared, in season and out of season. Paul wanted Timothy to be ready to preach Scripture all the time, whether he was feeling good or not.
      1. In college my preaching professor said, “A pastor must be ready to preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice!”
    5. Now look what preaching includes:
      1. Correction: some translations will say “reprove.” This means a soft correction
      2. Rebuke: this is a sharp correction
      3. Encouragement or exhortation.
      4. Instruction
      5. And all this is to be done with patience
        1. Let’s apply this.
          1. I must ask am I ready to be convicted and corrected through the Word of God proclaimed in preaching? Are you?
          2. Am I ready to be instructed, to learn?
          3. Am I ready to be encouraged? Many will say yes.
            1. The first question is the hard one. We don’t like to be corrected. Interesting that Paul uses two words, one for correction and one for a sharp correction.
            2. When you are convicted during a sermon don’t take it personal as an attack from the preacher. We preachers are not that good. It is God convicting you and that is a good thing. God is shaping you into who He wants you to be. I know you don’t think you are perfect. Listen to this:

Heb 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

(from New International Version)

We preach God’s Word and God’s Word is convicting. Next, Paul gives an illustration of why we must preach God’s Word with instruction.

  1. The illustration of the future:
    1. Verses 3 and 4 describe a time when people want to hear what they want to hear. Do you think that time has come?
    2. Survey of Church Leaders: A survey taken of 521 clergy and laymen attending the National Council of Churches’ General Assembly in Miami Beach showed a movement away from traditional belief, as follows:
      1. Little more than half believed Jesus to be divine.
      2. Only one-fourth thought biblical miracles literally happened.
      3. One-third declared the devil “definitely does not exist.”
      4. Only sixty-two percent looked forward with “complete certainty” to a life after death. [1]
    3. There are some really good preachers out there, and there are some that sound like good preachers. The test is Scripture. We must declare all of Scripture.  You may look at the above example and think “well they are being honest about their beliefs.” True, but they shouldn’t be pastors because they really are not Christians. How can you be called a Christian if you don’t believe Jesus is who He said He was? Christian means “little Christ.”
    4. Sometimes people don’t want to believe the authority of Scripture because they don’t want to be under the authority of Scripture.

Charles Templeton was a popular evangelist who worked with Billy Graham. He realized he didn’t believe the Gospel, so he got out of preaching.

What would prompt a Princeton Theological Seminary graduate who once drew crowds of 40,000 as an evangelist to wash his hands of the Christian ministry?

Toronto-born Dr. Charles Templeton was so busy criss-crossing ocean and continent in his new capacity as television producer that he hardly could find time to explain.

“If you’re going to preach effectively,” said the 42-year-old Templeton as he left for Rome and Cairo to secure personality interviews for TV, “you have to have conviction. My convictions as to some aspects of Christian doctrine have become diluted with doubt. I don’t say I’m right and all others are wrong. But feeling as I do, I could not go on in the ministry. So I left.”

“The decision to change my vocation was a slow and painful one,” said Templeton. “I could continue to preach, with mental reservation, or accept the alternative and leave the ministry. It became clear to me that I had no other choice.”

—Christianity Today[2]

We need Biblical Preaching so that people know when the wrong doctrine is being taught. In verse 5 Paul gives a conclusion to this charge:

  1. The summary and conclusion of the charge
    1. Paul changes back to Timothy.
    2. Paul says “Keep your head in all situations.” What this really means is be sober, don’t give in to excess.
    3. Endure hardship: preaching Biblically
    4. Share the Gospel
    5. Fulfill the ministry


Who cares about a 20-25 minute sermon? Hopefully we all do, God does.

Who wants to think on Sundays? I hope we all find it exciting to learn more about the Gospel by which we live and are saved for all eternity, and further to learn how to share that Gospel with others.

“If you are called to preach do it, but if you can do anything else do that” those were the words that Rev Larry Stewart was told by his grandfather. You may know that Larry is a friend of Steve Cummins and shared those words with me at one of my ordination meetings. His grandfather was a pastor. But look at these words from another famous preacher: 1Cor 9:16-18:

16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

We preach because God calls us to. We preach because people must be instructed in godly living, we preach because people need the encouragement that can only come from God’s Word. We preach because people need the conviction from God’s Word. We preach because the Word of God is living and active (Heb 4:12).

I preach because “woe to me if I don’t preach!”

Let’s pray

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Matthew and his banquet

This Sunday’s sermon is on Matthew. I will be focusing on who Matthew was not specific to the feast which he gave in Matthew 9:9-10 and Luke 5:29-32. On Facebook a friend posted the following:

My devotions were just on that: dinner at Matthew’s house, and I love what the Lord showed me… I understood the whole story, Jesus was making the point that he came for the “sinners” not the righteous. But what I didn’t understand was that tiny little phrase: I desire mercy, not sacrifice (v.13). I had just been reading that the sacrifice of God is a contrite heart and a broken spirit (ps.51:17). So what did He mean by not desiring sacrifice? He was speaking to a bunch of pharisees, who were prolly up-to-date on all their ritual sacrifices, so to speak, and therefore they saw themselves as justified. And as sacrifices were believed to eradicate sin, they believed themselves sinless–which is why they turned up their nose to Jesus dining with “sinners.” So it wasn’t the sacrifice that Jesus didn’t desire, it was the attitude behind it, the self-serving rituals they performed to exalt themselves. Ok, so I got that, I began to move on, when I almost heard God say, Wait, your not done, how does that apply to you? so I kept thinking…what are the self-serving rituals in my life that make me feel justified — better than others. and I came up with ALOT! Stupid things, like taking notes in church, listening to Christian music. and big things, like my Cedarville education, my moderate lifestyle… these are all good things, like sacrifices, and I don’t plan on stopping them 🙂 but the attitude behind it — that somehow these things make me a better person, that attitude so lacking in mercy towards others — that’s gotta go. Anywho, you asked, thought I’d share… 🙂