Saturday, October 10, 2015

What is the purpose of the church?

We went to an area-wide church meeting (known as "the association" around these parts) tonight.  I always thought these meetings were exclusively for church leaders, like pastors, youth directors and Sunday School teachers, so I never bothered to go. However, today they had a huge church picnic, with inflatables and BBQ chicken and carnival games and, because we live in the south, sweet tea, and lots of dessert. So, we showed up. The kids had a blast, and I got to listen to a great guest speaker named Dr. Alvin Reid, who is a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Here are some of his talking points, most of them paraphrased in my own words.
The Biblical context is taken primarily from Acts chapter 2.

"What is the purpose of the church?"
Following are 6 main goals: 

**(Keep in mind, here "church" is referring to all Christian churches in general, not one specific church in particular.)**

1.  The church forms a gospel community.
The original church was comprised primarily of people who did not know Jesus. When was the last time you talked to someone who doesn't know Jesus? When was the last time you talked about Jesus with others, period? We need to talk about Him more, talk with Him more, and learn more about Him, if we are ever going to point people to Him.
Acts is full of descriptive words such as "wonder", "awe". "astonishment", etc. How will we ever entice people to come to our churches if we are just blase and ho-hum about the gospel?

2. The church forms a Biblical community. (See the "great commission" in Matthew 28)
Acts 2:42 says the people of the early church were "devoted to doctrine." Do we get excited about reading our Bibles, or do we take it for granted? Are we devoted to doctrine? No. We often try to pick and choose what pieces of doctrine we will follow.
Keep in mind, information is not the same as transformation.
In other words, you can have head knowledge, but not life-changing, heartfelt belief. 

"The greatness of your impact is measured by the individuals that you pour your life into, daily."
Whether that looks like your own children, someone else's children, neighbors, friends, co-workers... whatever it looks like for you, be invested in the lives of others.  

Mentoring and small groups are important ways for church members to stay connected. 

3. The church forms a praying community.
Acts 2:43: "Seek God." Remember, prayer is powerful. The Holy Spirit is living and active.
Dr Alvin said "Don't let your experience, or lack of experience, affect your theology."
Good advice there.

4.  The church forms a ministry community. In Acts 2:44-45, it states they shared "as they had need". Do we give to those in need, or do we expect someone else to do it? Do we truly care for those less fortunate than ourselves?

Also, keep in mind than often 10% of the people are doing 90% of the work. Don't get burned out. "Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD do it." Be discerning about which ministries you join, and why.

5. The church is a giving community.
Give generously. Are you a cheerful giver? Are you teaching your children how to give?
 China is the largest unreached country in the world USA is number 4.
Your LIFE is a mission trip! Live it out!

6. The church is a worshiping community. Acts 2:46-47
"every day" or "day by day", they were "praising God" (v.47).
Do you worship every day?

Our abilities and limitations are all for His glory, and for our good.

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