The purpose of the church seems to have been co-opted by modern movements and philosophies that have perverted the role of the pastor, the congregation, and they interact with the world. It is not uncommon to find that churches that are so focused on bringing people into the congregation that the dedicated members are left alone. Churches compete for memberships and covet numbers of the mega-churches. Membership building is not the intended model or focus for the church.
As we discuss what the purpose of the church is, we have looked at the role of leadership, being to equip the members to preach the Gospel in their life, and then we looked at how we as believers need to interact with one another. Next we want to consider what we are a congregation should do for the world around us. The first level of needs that should be met in a congregation is its own needs. Just like in family life, the first obligation of anyone should be to take care of his own family (1 Timothy 5:8). Once our family is taken care of we can help to support the needs of the church, that is helping to support the needs of those who have them within the congregation. This does not include those that have needs because they do not work to meet their own obligations.
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.
All around America churches exhort their members to bring their friends, neighbors, and co-workers to church. This is particularly common in children and youth programs and the idea is to fulfill the great commission. The idea is for the pastor to talk about how to meet Jesus in order to usher your friends into the faith. The Gospel is watered down so as to not offend anyone and the people hear a simple message about saying a little prayer, and that is all it takes to become saved! The church becomes the free (or is that 10 percent of our income) Sunday entertainment.
Christians are repeatedly encouraged to fellowship with one another. The call to fellowship is the most common admonitions that we hear regarding church life and function, but it is rarely defined. We are left to assume that fellowship means to merely spend time with other Christians. This means going out to lunch after a Sunday service or watching movies together. However, I want to challenge that loosely defined premonition and set out to define what fellowship actually means.
It is sad that in America today, many Christians are praying for crop failures. If we live our life seeking pleasure from things that are against the Word of God, and then we pray that the consequences of those actions will not happen, we are praying for a crop failure.