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what’s the purpose of church?

October 31, 2006

Thanks to the few of you who tackled what may seem to be too easy a question or maybe its too tough. It seems to me that the vast majority of people attending churches could not answer the question. That’s a huge problem.

How you answer that question has enormous implications.

It seems that from the beginning God’s people had a purpose of representing him to the world. The Jews were placed at the crossroads of the world (not an accident) and over and over they were called to return (repent) to a proper relationship with God. They went from a people crying out in Eygpt because they were oppresssed, then by the time of Solomon they were the ones oppressing. The slaves had become the enslavers. So eventually they are carried off to be slave once again. God’s intentions were for them to show the world what he was like…

…what if that is the purpose of church? What if we are to be all the things the commenters said, but for the purpose of showing the world who God is. Then what we look like, what we focus on, how we spend our time, how we spend our money all is telling the world who God is.

So when we spend more and more money on ourselves, when our focus is on buildings, when we spend most of our time talking and discussing how we spend 3 or 4 hours out of the week, what are we telling the world?


strike that 3-4 hours comment…I don’t want to give the impression that if you spend those hours in dead ritual that you should suffer it out.  It was the perception of the world with us arguing (worship wars) that I was talking about.

The point is this, what impression of God are we giving the World by how we “do church”?  I believe soooooo much of what we do is tradition, and really not that old of tradition, and we are blinded to that.  We think this is how it has always been, when that is not true.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2006 7:41 am

    I kept thinking about your question about what the church was and I surprised myself. I couldn’t come up with an answer that I even liked. That just shouldn’t be.

    While I agree with what you say about the 3-4 hours spent corporately with a church family–but doesn’t that set the tone for the rest of my week? While I am still thinking about my definition of the church is–I think one of my characteristics would be that it’s like a pep rally so I can do what I am called to do the rest of the week–a time of mutual encouragement–of seeing where God is working in someone else’s life–a time to get so excited I can’t help but go out and live another week for Him. Does that make any sense at all? ( I am just thinking out loud!)

  2. November 1, 2006 8:39 am

    The more I read about Mother Theresa the more I think she modeled what the church is to be about. That flies in the face of modern religiosity but truly fulfills what you are saying about showing God to the world.

  3. November 1, 2006 9:17 am

    Absoulutely it makes sense. I was going to edit that part out this morning, maybe I will just leave it and add to the post. I think those hours are important! and it is “scriptural” for it to be a time of encouragement. If it was all about worshiping God then why would we need to get together at all?

  4. Amy permalink
    November 1, 2006 9:56 am

    I missed out on your question the other day, but what is coming to my mind about the church is that we are the body of Christ. That is a huge statement. Basically that we are Christ walking, talking, serving, praying, and breathing today.

    The 3 or 4 hours a week that we are together give us connectedness and hopefully unity so that this body of Christ can function in the nooks and crannies of society.

    We come together to #1 worship our Creator, #2 be reminded of our identity in Christ, and #3 be motivated in our mission which is to be led by the Holy Spirit who is convicting the world.

  5. November 1, 2006 6:09 pm

    I was in a sorrority in college. We did a lot of the same things that my church does. We had parties, devotionals, we gave to a philanthropy, we took “under privileged” children trick or treating… (church doesn’t do that)

    I’m just being bitter and ugly – I know. I’ve got to get the “want to” to be more of what Jesus was. I can’t rely on my congregation to help me do that. You guys help but I’ve got to spend more alone time with God.

  6. November 1, 2006 9:27 pm

    Do you let latecomers into the discussion? 😉 I love that you are discussing this, Tommy. Because I know it is your heart’s desire to live out church in this way… Love that.

    Of all the answers I came up with in my head, they all had to do with 7 days a week rather than the Sunday meetin’. I definitely believe what we do on Sunday’s deserves some deep contemplation… But for me, personally, if I am living a fulfilled church life (with church as people) during the week… I can put up with a lot more stuff I don’t like on Sundays.

    And I love what Donna said about Mother Theresa….

  7. November 1, 2006 9:31 pm

    Terri, that’s a valid point. Philip Yancey says that the world can do everything better than church can except one thing. The church can offer grace. Unfortunately many of us have seen others, and other organizations be more graceful than churches.

    A while back I posted about the nature of God. At his core I believe he must be full of grace. If this is correct that we are to represent Christ to the world then we have to be full of grace.

  8. November 1, 2006 9:37 pm

    Angie, you jumped in while I was typing. A big YES from me…I think it has much more to do with Monday than Sunday. Coming together seems to betray that we are not together otherwise.

    It seems that small, agile, flexible, mobile platoons going about together, joining in what God is doing is a beautiful model. Platoons can be part of a bigger army.

    And I know you are not saying this, but I don’t want to tell anyone to put up with Sundays… in a way that restricts their freedom to pursue God.

  9. November 2, 2006 12:26 am

    Thanks for the clarifier TCS. I definitely meant that in a “love covers a multitude of sins” kinda way. Because even in the “best” of churches… Well, I’ll just quote Rosanna Rosannadann, “It’s always somethin’.”

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