The Purpose of Church

“If God is everywhere, why do I need to go to church?” I am sure that you have heard that question asked at some point in your life. Maybe you have even asked it yourself? I know that I have!

I, myself, often feel closest to God when I am outside enjoying His wonderful Creation. To me, the trees, flowers, birds, animals, rivers and mountains all speak of the glory of God. The “great outdoors” is my personal cathedral and it is there that I worship and praise Him the most.

However, there is a saying that “no man is an island”. God did not create us to live a life apart from other people.

Gen 2:18  And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.

God’s Word describes believers as being a “body” with Jesus as the “head”. God made all the parts of a human body to work together, and just as our human bodies work better if all the parts are present, so too does our “spiritual body”. Our weaknesses need other people’s strengths and our strength’s are needed by other people.

Eph 4:15  But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ;
Eph 4:16  Through whom all the body, being rightly formed and united together, by the full working of every part, is increased to the building up of itself in love.

Rom 12:4  For even as we have many members in one body, and all members do not have the same function,
Rom 12:5  so we the many are one body in Christ, and each one members of one another. (BBE)

God’s word also describes us as being a family:

Eph 3:14  For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 3:15  of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named,

I am sure that most of us have experienced loss within our families. For me, it was the loss of a father and two sisters when my parents’ marriage ended. Many years later, I lost my  husband when my own marriage ended. The absence of loved ones can leave us feeling incomplete in our personal lives. So too,  the absence of members of our spiritual family can leave holes that need filling. God designed us to work together as a family –  loving, supporting and encouraging one another.

Unfortunately, I have also heard the following question: “why should I go to church when it is full of people who gossip, are selfish, unkind (and the list goes on and on…)? Good question!

Yes, unfortunately, some churches can be filled with critical, judgmental, unloving, sinful living, hypocritical people. Some church attendees may even be abusers, alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, prostitutes, criminals and homosexuals! What does all this mean??

I like the following comment that I have read in a few different places: A church is like a hospital and just as a hospital is filled with people who are physically sick, a church can be filled with people who are ‘soul and spirit’ sick. A hospital is where sick people go to receive treatment so that they can get better physically. A church is where hurting people can go to get treatment to get better “soulfully” and “spiritually”.

A  hospital patient hopes that the hospital staff, equipment, medicine and treatments all work together properly, so that the patient’s health will improve and he/she can go on to enjoy life. I am sure that we all want to come out in better condition than when  we went in!

In the same manner, people who are soul/spirit sick need to be properly ministered to in church. A church that is functioning as God would want it to, with correct teaching, done with love and compassion, will see people’s lives changed for the better.

Luk 4:18  “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed,
Luk 4:19  to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Luk 7:22  And answering, Jesus said to them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is proclaimed to the poor.

In church, the “medical staff” should be people who have a close personal relationship with the ‘chief of staff’ – God, an accurate knowledge of the medical textbooks – the Bible, and a loving bed-side manner. The better the “staff” are in using these qualities and abilities, the healthier the “patients” will become. Unfortunately, in this sin-filled world, we will always have “sick” people entering church, however, if God’s “church” functioned properly, then in time, the “patients”, should be enabled to become “staff” themselves. A healthy church is one that works together to bring wholeness to the lost, the sick and the hurting.

I believe that the following scriptures clearly describe the “purpose” of “church”:

Eph 4:12  For the training of the saints as servants in the church, for the building up of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13  Till we all come to the harmony of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to full growth, to the full measure of Christ:
Eph 4:14  So that we may be no longer children, sent this way and that, turned about by every wind of teaching, by the twisting and tricks of men, by the deceits of error;
Eph 4:15  But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ;

and:

Heb 10:19  Therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20  by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
Heb 10:21  and having a High Priest over the house of God,
Heb 10:22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies having been washed with pure water.
Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised),
Heb 10:24  and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
Heb 10:25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

I pray, in that whatever “shape” your church takes the form of,  you are gathering together with like-minded believers, exhorting one another to love and good works, so that God’s “church” will grow and be filled. Amen!

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