Most of us love our church. We love the Bible teaching, we love the preaching, the music, and the fellowship. And yet, more and more church members are recognizing, “Something is wrong with my church!”
The primary function of the church is as Christ commanded in Mathew 28:18-20.
If there is something wrong in any local body of believers, it is wrong in their fulfilling of Christ’s purpose given to her. Christ said to go and make disciples. The primary purpose of the church is to carry on with the work Christ began in His earthly ministry: “To seek and to save that which is lost.”
Something goes wrong when we are not obedient to our calling. The Bible tells us:
“ … and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.” Mark 4:17.
Today’s Church in America knows little of trials and persecution, for most do not follow the Great Commission. Most tend to be inward or upward focused, therefore they experience little interaction and little conflict with the world.
Most choose a place of worship for the good fellowship, because they have many programs for the youth and children, and where they feel they will experience a good worship time of music, and preaching. The focus of most is only inside the four walls of the church.
Some see their primary function as the praise and worship of the Lord. Their focus is upward towards Heaven, seeking sound doctrinal teaching/preaching and desiring to grow its members in the knowledge of the Lord. Equipping the saints and helping its members to discover their spiritual gifts and talents is their highest of priorities.
These inward and upward directions a church takes are necessary functions and must exist to equip the Saints and to bring the body of Christ into the “unity of faith” Ephesians 4:12-13 The growing of each individual member in Christ’s perfection and their corporate worship is to bring them to the “full knowledge of Christ, unto a perfect man.” The complete body of Christ is referred to a “man” who is made complete in Him and grows to His full stature. For that to be achieved, the church must take its focus outward beyond its four walls seeking to bring in all the elect of God who have been chosen. Until then, the body will not be complete.
Not being obedient to the Lord’s command to go, teach, and baptize; those whose focus is only inside the four walls of the church and upward towards Heaven, the power of God they will not see. Jesus said:
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32.
We are to draw all people to Christ, not to a building! I am not saying it is wrong to bring people or invite people to church, but getting the lost to the church is not to be our end goal.
The church that seeks to obediently do what Christ commanded will receive the power of His Spirit to accomplish the mission Christ gave to it. That is God’s promise Acts 1:8. Bringing the world into a loving fellowship of believers is not why Christ died. Bringing goats in amongst the sheep to be loved is like bringing a wolf into the hen house to share a meal with you.
The primary focus of Christ’s Church in America has changed from going outward, to having only inside the four walls and up towards Heaven; Christ’s gospel has been changed to accommodate the non-converted brought into a church fellowship of believers. They, having never been obedient showing any outward true expression of His love at all, they have only a form of godliness to share.
So few have ever been SENT and fewer still WENT!
“So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21.
It leaves us where we are today. Our churches are filled with people never sent and who never went, bringing in lost people who were never found hoping that by bringing them in, they will be! The opposite has happened. By bringing a lost world into the church, we have only made the church worldly.
“Health, unfortunately, is not contagious. Disease is! It is far more easy to catch a chill than to impart a glow; and to make each others religion dwindle away; than to grow and prosper.” ~ J.C. Ryle
We must change change the direction we are headed.
The church is not a building or a corporation that needs to be kept alive and running. It is a body of believers united in the single pursuit of seeking all to have “new life” in Christ, serving Christ inwardly and upwardly preparing themselves to go outwardly into the world sharing Christ. A building is not needed. Even, paid staff isn’t necessary to run its operations, devise growth strategies, create programs to entertain, and to draw people into a building.
Christ had nowhere to lay His head! The Early church had no building and no paid staff and changed the world. When we become obedient to the Lord’s command to go, God will change both the Church in America and our world. His promise is to give us the power to do it. On the whole, we see not this power in America.
Something is wrong. We need to go! Christ’s command to us was: “Go ye therefore, and teach…” (Matthew 28:19). It was not, “Bring them hither, and entertain!”
Which direction do you see your church heading in—in, up, or out?
Yeah Ron, the average local church is doing nothing to have a ministry outside it’s walls. I might add, also, that the average church is not seeking to identify and utilize the spiritual gifts of its members. This is very unfortunate because this is the way the church can effectively function. In all fairness, there are some churches that ARE doing both. These churches are very dynamic and are exciting to be a part of. A much needed discussion, thanks.
Thanx John! You are right about the spiritual gifts as well. I seem to use my gifts everywhere, but in my own Church. We need inward, upward, and outward. I long for the day my Church realizes this. I pray for it daily. Thanx so much for your influence on me. You have more than you know! ron,