The Purpose of the Church
Recent conversations with other believers have forced me to consider a certain question. What is the purpose of going to church? By church I am referring to a local gathering of believers. In these conversations, several friends have told me the purpose of church is to get unsaved people to come to hear the gospel.
I do not agree with this. Church is for the believer, not the unbeliever. The purpose of church is to equip and encourage believers for spreading the gospel of Christ. A study of Acts 2 (particularly verse 42) revealed to me that teaching, fellowship, and worship are three functions of the church that prepare believers for the work of the Lord.
Teaching on the word of God is imperative in the life of the believer. A believer should be a part of a body where they can be actively involved in the teaching and studying of the word of God. It is a privilege to be with a group of believers where we are able to hear and share what the Lord is teaching His children. This is done through pulpit ministry and open discussion.
Scripture gives us clear direction on how to teach because the word of God is powerful, and must be correctly interpreted. The word of God has the power to impact lives, point people to Christ, and help believers grow in the Lord. This is why the scriptures must be properly taught and why believers must seek a local body that teaches the truths of scripture.
Teaching that strengthens
What kind of teaching should a believer be receiving from the church they attend? The teaching of a local body should be focused on subjects that will strengthen the members of that body.
- Teaching on Spiritual gifts help believers identify and use their spiritual gift for the benefit of the body. (1 Cor. 12)
- Caution against false teaching makes believers aware of doctrines and teachers to avoid. The best way to protect a body of believers from false teaching is to be immersed in the truths of scripture so a false teaching will be easy to spot. (1 Jn. 4:1-3)
- Politics is something that should NOT be spoken on. While it may be appropriate to highlight immoralities that are supported by a political figure or party, it should be done within the context of a message focused on scripture. A message that is focused on promoting or disapproving of a candidate, party, or political ideal has no place in the church.
- A believer should receive teaching on doctrines in scripture that help them better understand God’s word, live lives that honor Him, and love Him more.
- The Gospel is the most important teaching a believer should hear in their church. Not every message should be about the gospel, but the gospel should be a part of every message. The Gospel reveals the work that Christ did and is doing in our lives and motivates us to hear his word and follow it.
These are not the only teachings a believer should hear in their church, but these are examples of the kind a teaching a believer needs to be receiving in order to grow in the Lord.
Fellowship with other believers is a source of joy and encouragement for the believer, and a Christian that does not seek fellowship is neglecting an important resource the Lord has provided for the life of the believer. God has given us a family of believers to support us in every season of life.
- A healthy body of believers seeks to comfort fellow believers who are going through a difficult time in their life. They are there to offer encouragement and lift this believer before the Lord in prayer. (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
- The other believers in a fellowship are a source of encouragement for a believer. Whether we hear teaching from the word of God, watch them encourage others, witness how they endure a trial, experience their kindness, or see their faithfulness to the work of the Lord, being around other believers on a regular basis strengthens a believer in his walk with the Lord.
- Accountability is a key function of fellowship. Forming relationships with believers who challenge us in our walk with the Lord will be a source of strength in a believer’s fight against the flesh. (Prov. 27:17) (Ecc. 4:9-12)
Seek regular fellowship with other believers. As a believer grows closer to their Savior, they should crave fellowship with the Lord’s people. Every interaction with a child of God should bring joy to a follower of Christ.
To a believer who loves the reality of the Gospel, the good news of what the Lord did and is currently doing in their life, nothing is sweeter than times of worship. Although worshiping our Savior privately is a beautiful thing, worshiping corporately with other Christians is also a tremendous joy. It is wonderful to hear what the Lord has done, or is doing, in the life of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper
It is imperative for believers to make an effort to regularly attend times of worship, and I want to especially encourage every believer to attend the Lord’s Supper. Although we should regularly praise our Savior for His work of salvation throughout the week, the Lord’s Supper is a beautiful time when believers gather corporately to focus our thoughts as a group on our Savior and the salvation He provided by His sacrifice.
It is precious to hear believers from all backgrounds focused on the one thing we have in common – our salvation in Jesus Christ. Christ’s dying request was for believers to break bread with their minds focused on the work He was doing. Do not neglect the privilege to praise the Lord with other believers for how He has changed our lives for eternity.
If you are a believer who desires to grow in your walk with the Lord and become more effective in doing His work, than being a part of your local body of believers is important. Cherish the teaching, fellowship, and worship, and use your energy to make that body into a vessel that God can use for His glory.