1. The Purpose of the Church
- To glorify God (Ephesians 3:10 & 21)
- To build up spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:12-13)
- To equip for service (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- To reach those outside the church (Matthew 28:10)
- To promote the spiritual and physical welfare of all people – (Galatians 6:10)
Every church is to at least have those 5 things as its purpose. Your church is to exist, not for those who belong to it but also for those outside its walls! If the church gets the balance wrong at all, then surely it is failing in all of its purposes! One of the key things for churches in the 21st century is in the area of providing welfare, both for its members and those in the local and global community. Too often churches and its members have fallen into the ideological trap of consumer-based materialism.
There is a saying that God helps those who help themselves. I want to tell you that that is clearly unbiblical. As a Christian and a church, you are to help those who cannot help themselves. After all that’s what God through Jesus Christ did – helped those who couldn’t help themselves! The church is to provide welfare for all on all levels – physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. Too often the church only concentrates on one or two of those areas.
2. What will you say?
However, you and I will be judged for what we have done with our gifts and talents!. We will all give an account of ourselves to God, if we profess to be Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:10), and will be judged according to what we have done with what we have been given (2 Corinthians 5:10). The quality of our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), and our motives will be exposed. Exposed as to whether things were done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4:4-5) or for our own glory.
As we give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30), rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). Rewards such as the Incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25); the Crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4); Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8); Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19) and the Crown of life (James 1:12). Therefore, do all you can for the glory of God the Father, as you submit to the Son Jesus Christ in the power of God the Holy Spirit! Go and help your church fulfil those 5 purposes of its existence: to glorify God, build and equip, to reach out and provide spiritual and physical welfare for all people within its community and beyond. Don’t wait to do it, take every opportunity to do it!
How do we go about this? Let me suggest two ways to be radical: radical care and radical finances!
Radically caring: Too often people in need, are shown care and concern for a little while, but gradually as time goes on, the caring ceases. All sorts of excuses are given, but in reality, there can be no excuse or reason for not caring. Not caring means not loving. Love is to be for all people, regardless of personalities, conflicts, opinions, gender, sexuality, prejudice and bias. Lots of people leave churches and house groups, through the back door, because they don’t get the care they need and desire. Too often, I would say. Too often the church is too interested in its own little world of new buildings, new programmes, new schedules or new members, as important as those things can be!
Rather than churches that look after only the interest of select people within its walls and community, the church is to look after all interests of all, both its members and non-members and within both the local and global community. We are to eschew, cast off, being insular, self-seeking and materialistic. If your own church can’t supply the need required, then it may just be that one of the other churches in your community can provide the need! Local churches, working together, to show that churches can work together – something we are often accused of not doing! By loving and caring for others, we show true fellowship with Jesus Christ. We can be seen to be one church, even though we are separate expressions of the one global church.
Most people who are sick, both short-term and long-term, will appreciate contact or even a visit! There must be someone you know in your church you can do that for! Be caring!
And on a even more radical note, lets look at money!
Lets talk money! For a lot of people there are three subjects never to be raised within church circles: money, sex and politics! We may look at the others in another podcast, but lets look at the Christian and money! Jesus certainly talked a lot about money, even just a cursory look in the Gospels will reveal that! Before I go further, this is aimed at all Christians, not just a select group!
We all desire to mature spiritually (one of the Church purposes remember). Perhaps the greatest indicator of this in the 21st century, concerns financial giving. Giving is to be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive behind it. All our money and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this..
Failure to give back for God’s work, what He has given in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3:8)! The reason it is robbery is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God.
Most churches with one busy pastor could quite easily afford another pastor on the payroll if more people gave money using those biblical principles. Missionaries shouldn’t have to literally beg for funding as some do, particularly when some professing Christians continue to build up massive pension pots to keep themselves in the luxurious manner they are accustomed to when they retire.
The hallmark of the early church is clearly seen in Acts 2. The New Testament church made sure that giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of. People gave. When anybody was in need, another member of the church fulfilled that need: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. That is radical church! It is not to be for just the first century church but also for the 21st century church. It is not communism under another name as I have heard it called. Those who say that are entrapped within the snare of materialistic consumerism and political dogma, looking after their own interests rather than the interests of others. Its biblical welfare as commanded by Jesus Christ and exemplified by His life. Anything outside of that can be regarded as deplorable, revolting and an abomination.
That is also radical! Churches and Christians are to be so radical so that even today, people outside the church can say with amazement: “These people love their God because we see that they love each other and us!” Go! God gave everything so that you may life and life in abundance, so by caring and giving, you will reflect that. Be radical church and encourage others to be likewise.