The Purpose of the Church Part 2

Last week I discussed the first purpose of the church being to equip the believers for the ministry of the Gospel.  The church leaders should be teaching the congregation a sound Gospel from the Scriptures, neither focusing on attracting large attendance numbers nor on modern marketing campaigns.  While the leaders focus on teaching and clarifying the Scriptures, the church members should be supporting one another in their walk with the Lord. 

Ultimately it is the love we have for one another that shows who we are. This love is described by the apostle John and is written about in detail by Francis Schaeffer in the The Mark of the Christian.  Supporting our brothers and sisters in faith is not actually difficult, but it does take some intentionality when we head off to our church gathering.  Here are a few ideas to keep in mind about how we interact with one another.

Encourage one another in the Word

Many Americans claim to be Christian, but according to annual polls, the majority of us do not read the Bible.  Our access to the Bible in America is approaching 100% since most households own at least one copy, but anyone can walk into a library in this country to read it online in any language completely free.  We need to read our Bible, and we need to encourage one another to read it as well.  How can we say that we love Jesus and not read his Word, particularly when he says such things as:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall (Matthew 7:25-27).”

We cannot very well act on His Words when we do not know what His Words are.  If we do not know what Jesus said we will inadvertently build the foundation of our faith on sand.  Get started reading soon.  If you need some tips on reading, check out this article.  Get the Word going in your life and encourage one other to get it going in their life.

Pray for One Another

Prayer is often overlooked but it is necessary for a strong walk with God.  It is easy to think that prayer is a waste of time because on the surface it may not look like it provides any immediate results.  Daniel encountered a specific delay in prayer:

Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future (Daniel 10:12-14).”

This is not to say that every time our prayers are delayed is because of a spiritual war, but just know that our prayers are heard and they will be answered on God's timing.  We are specifically commanded to pray our own suffering, and also to pray for one another. In light of this, we should earnestly pray for one another.  It is common in the church to pass around prayer requests, and it is great that we have a number of people that do actually act on these requests and pray, but it has become a cliche to announce we will pray for something but fail to actually do so.  Lets get into the practice of praying for ourselves, our personal ministry, and also for one another.

Keep One Another Accountable

Life is full of difficulties, temptations, and challenges.  As the Christian life gets drowned out in entertainment and our constant busy-ness of life, it becomes easier to fall to these temptations.  Accountability is a deep, close friendship that will help negate these trials and keep each other on the right track.  Paul wrote:

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2).

Keeping friends close by for help in the down times will keep us from sin, but they will also help to restore us should sin overtake us.  Solomon wrote a similar statement:

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

If we seek out friendships that can develop into accountability partners, we will give ourselves more security in our fight with the devil whom is seeking to destroy us.

Engage in True Fellowship

The modern church gives us more admonitions to engage in fellowship than it does in Bible study or prayer.  The bigger problem, however, is that fellowship is mostly redefined as believers spending time together.  It is in this context that I have attended many lunches, dinners, activities, and even sporting events in the name of fellowship where God was never referenced and my spiritual life was never challenged.  We should have some fun, but fellowship should also always have an element of challenge and encouragement.  I give specific considerations toward fellowship in full detail here. The key to fellowship is to use it to better our Christian walk, not to call it fellowship if it really is just socializing.

In Conclusion

The first purpose of the church is for the leaders to equip the congregation with the knowledge of the Scriptures for our participation in the great commission.  The second purpose is for us as believers is to encourage one another in our personal walk with God.  The Word should be our foundation and we should keep up our daily prayer life in addition to our daily Scripture reading.  Our friends in the faith can help us keep strong and allow us time to overcome temptations.  Fellowship will keep us going strong in faith.