From our previous lessons, we have been looking at the meaning of the church and its forms of government. From the Biblical perspective, we have defined the church as the body of Baptized believers indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It is thus both Human and for that matter physical organization and it is also of God’s and thus Spiritual organization. The balance of the two aspects is necessary for church growth. This study looks at the purposes of the local church. It includes our needed human (membership) responsibilities that are essential for the Church to achieve its purposes. The four major purposes of the church are worship, edification, evangelism and social concerns.
Purposes of the Church
The first essential purpose of the Church is to plant the gospel or the Word of God in the hearts of people, thus bringing them to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has to do with witnessing. It is to say that the local church exists to equip its members to carry the Word to others (Mathew 28:18-20).
Another important purpose of the church is worship. From its Greek roots, worship has to do with giving God the honour, reverence and praise.
The Church exists to encourage and edify the members. By this purpose of the church, members are to build each other up in the Lord. In other words, in all our dealings in the church, we are to ask ourselves: are we encouraging others or building others up in the Lord? We therefore help the church to fulfil this purpose by using our spiritual gifts in the motive of love (1 Cor 12:7; 1 Cor 14:1).
d. Social action
The last major purpose of the church is to care for the social needs not only of its members but to the society at large. The church exists to show the love of God to the world. It is to join in the ministry of Jesus in healing the sick, proclaiming justice and caring for the poor. Among others the church exists to fulfil its salt and light ministry in the world.
Understanding the nature of our calling
In view of the fact that God calls us to belong to the local church and thus expect us to be instrumental in helping the church to fulfil its identified purposes, it is important for us to understand the nature of our calling. In other words, what it means to belong to the local church. The call to belong to the local church is a call of discipleship. It means that to be a Christian means to give one’s heart to God and to fulfil our membership responsibilities in the following ways:
1. A surrender of your heart to love Jesus and his Church
2. A surrender of individual will to the interest of the entire congregation.
3. A surrender of time
4. A surrender of your mind – in making decisions and complying with the decisions pertaining to the goals of the Church
5. The control of our bodies and emotions in the Church to the glory of God
6. Fulfilment of all financial Obligations such as payment of tithes, offerings and other acceptable dues
7. Respect for leadership authority
8. Obligation of mutual love in the local church
This study has sought to offer an overview of the purposes of the church. It is when we know the purpose of the church that we are able to become responsible members. Thus, in the light of the purposes of the church, we are to surrender our heart, time, money, body and emotions and will.
1. State four main purposes of the church.
2. The church does not only exist to minister to others spiritually but socially as well. Explain.
3. What does it mean to belong to a local church?