September 29, 2008


Think about this quote:

"Any church that does not affect real change in its community, country, and the world is severly neglecting its true purpose."

Read it again. Do you agree? Do you really believe that if a church is not having a life changing effect outside her own walls, that she is neglecting her true purpose? I think these words are pretty convicting. I think you would do well to take these words to heart.

What is the purpose of the church? In order to understand the purpose of the church, we must understand the mission of the one who sent the church. The church is not a country club. The church is not a social gathering. The church is a group of Christ followers who have been sent by God on a mission - His mission. And what is that mission? To make disciples of all men (and women). God sent the church to accomplish His mission. The purpose of the church is to fulfill that mission.

Now, read the quote again: "Any church that does not affect real change in its community, country, and the world is severly neglecting its true purpose."

If the church is going to fulfill her mission, she must be about the business of life change.

Are you part of a local church? Is your church doing anything outside its own walls? Are you involved in the community, in the world, going about the mission of God - making disciples, affecting life change in the world around you?


C. Michael Pilato said...

There's an unfortunate ambiguity with the word "church" that, I think, complicates discussions of this sort. Jesus established The Church (which I'll capitalize for clarity) — the body of believers under his headship (anatomical analogies intended). But when you say "church" today, folks think less about a universal body of believers and more about that building where Christians gather on Sunday mornings (and folks warming the chairs inside it).

Allow me to play devil's advocate here for a bit, will you, and let's re-read your quote with our two different definitions of "church" in place:

"Any [body of believers organized under Christ's headship] that does not affect real change in its community, country, and the world is severely neglecting its true purpose." Agreed. (Is this even disputable? Jesus left his mark on everyone he interacted with, and he's still in the life-affecting business.)

"Any [group of people that share a common place of worship on Sunday mornings] that does not affect real change in its community, country, and the world is severely neglecting its true purpose." Really? Says who? Sure, individual believers should be doing The Right Thing as members of The Church. But does that necessarily mean that this doing must be organized by what we think of as the local church congregation?

Take 200 people, bring them together on Sunday mornings in a building with some musicians and a Bible teacher, and focus solely for a couple of hours on worship and discipleship. Now, send those 200 people back into their routine spheres of influence where they act as Christ's hands and feet on earth, just not with each other. Was that Sunday morning gathering not "a church service"? Does that group of people not represent "a local church"? Now, take that same group of 200 people, and have them be hands and feet in their spheres of influence as usual, but this time wearing "Holy Moly Community Church" T-shirts. Does this change things? Did we add anything to this picture except a marketing budget?

This, of course, begs the question about the true purpose of the local church congregation (which, by the way, is usually further complicated by tax law and other "business matters"). But hey, you brought it up! :-)

Geoffrey Janes said...

Mike - Great point.
Let's try to remove any ambiguity: church is not a group of people that share a common place of worship on Sunday mornings. No one could ever expect such a group to affect change in its community, much less the world. This is why in a city with the largest number of churches per capita in the USA we see very little change in the community. There are many groups of people gathering to share a common place of worship on Sunday. This could be expanded to include Panther's football games. There're a lot of people gathering to worship together in the big stadium uptown. Do they affect change? Absolutely not.
You are right - we must clearly define our terms, lest someone assume they know what we mean (as seems to be the case here). When I say church, I do not mean a group that gathers for music and Bible study. Anyone can do that. When I say church I mean, as you so well defined, a body of believers organized under Christ's headship.

The true purpose of the local church congregation is to 'go into all the world and make disciples of all men.' There is no question about that. The problem is the buildings full of happy people warming the pews who think the purpose is to gather once a week for great singing and deep teaching.

C. Michael Pilato said...

Geoff, thanks for the reply. Nomenclature clarification aside, I did misunderstand a bit of your post, assuming that "affecting real change in [a] community" implied affecting changes in the lives of people that aren't part of the assembly's membership. So, of course, if your church isn't even affecting real change in its own members — much less in the non-members outside its walls — it is neglecting its true purposes on all accounts.

Bob said...

Mike - Southbrook church is changing the lives of its congregation. Each week we see more and more people commit their lives to Christ at Southbrook. Now, this is not the work of the church directly. The pastors, members, etc. can only spread the seed. Jesus then works in the hearts of those where the seed has been spread.

The challenge Geoffrey is making is to all churches (including Southbrook) to not fall into the trap of viewing Sunday servies as a country club meeting or a time to punch your 'religion' ticket. As true followers of Christ, we need to take Christ's message to the world, through both our prayers and actions. This type of commitment will bring about true change to a community.

I believe the fact that Southbrook is growing and we're seeing more and more people come to Christ shows that God is working through Southbrook to impact our community in a positive way. If you're in the area, I encourage you to come experience it for yourself.