This teaching and the chart connected to it are the second in the series. Please read “The Five Basic Purposes for the Church That Jesus Is Building” before reading this article. This is really part two…
Although Scripture clearly sets out that the Head of the Church – Jesus – had set forth five basic purposes for His Church; in most cases the local church focuses on one or two of these purposes often to the neglect of the other stated reasons for their existence.
There are five purposes for the Church that Jesus said He would build. These are found in the Scriptures and are not negotiable. As it is Jesus who is the Head of the Church and who is building the Church He has determined and declared these five purposes.
The PRIMARY FOCUS of the Church should be a BALANCE OF ALL FIVE. It should be equally concerned about all five biblical purposes – EVANGELISM, WORSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, EDITIFCATION, and MINISTRY. When this is the case, the point person or leader becomes an EQUIPPER and sees their job as “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). Those who attend the church are viewed as MINISTERS because ‘every member is a minister’ and expected to be actively involved in the on-going and balanced life of the church and touching lives with the love of God.
The PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH views the COMMUNITY as their “parish” or area in which ministry is accomplished. The PRIMARY TARGET for their corporate life is everyone – sinner, saint, seeker, skeptic, and scoffer. Their focus is both who they are to BE and BECOME as well as what the Lord has called them to DO. They value people walking closely with the Lord and developing CHRISTLIKE CHARACTER. The programming of the church is balanced and well-rounded and is strategically designed and seriously focused. The big picture for this church is LIFE DEVELOPMENT because the driving-force behind this balanced and healthy church is CHANGED LIVES.
It is somewhat sad and regretful, however, that many churches are not healthy or balanced in their corporate life. It is natural for the leader of the church to have a passion – as well as the skills and training – for one of the five purposes. Thus, in their leadership they emphasize their passion and play to the area where they are strongest and have the most interest. The church follows the leader and finds itself becoming unhealthy due to having a single focus and not being balanced in its spiritual life and activities.
First Purpose or focus – EVANGELISM
This is a SOUL WINNING CHURCH where the main role of the leader is to be the chief EVANGELIST. He may be called the “pastor” but the major function of this leader is to be willing people to the Lord and to teach the people of the local church how to be a WITNESS in their COMMUNITY, to their friends and neighbours.
The major emphasis of a SOUL WINNING CHURCH led by an EVANGELST is to see people be born again. The key measuring rod for whether this church is successful is the number of people being SAVED because their central value and key measure of that success is always the number of DECISIONS FOR CHRIST.
To look at their budget for the year you would see that the major emphasis and thus expense is for the training of the people to be an effective WITNESS in their COMMUNITY. At every corporate service there would be an ALTAR CALL and each week leaders and members would be going out on VISITATION to those who were guests at the services the previous week.
The NUMBER BAPTIZED each year is this Church’s source of legitimacy.
Second purpose or focus – WORSHIP
This is an EXPERIENCING GOD CHURCH. This, in itself, is not bad. However, it is when this becomes the primary or only focus that the church becomes unhealthy. Here the primary focus is WORSHIP and the key leader (most often the pastor) is seen as the WORSHIP LEADER. The people are viewed as WORSHIPPERS and this is thus their primary role in “ministry.” Of course, because the focus is WORSHIP the primary target is not the wider community (soul-winning primary target) but is instead those assembled on a Sunday. The bigger the CROWD – the better the experience.
This church is looking for FEEL (a key term used to describe the life of the church) and people would determine that the church and the service is successful if they come away with a good FEELING from the time of WORSHIP. This FEEL is very subjective as the central value of this type of church is PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. How one FEELS and what one thought of the WORSHIP determines if it was a successful day. The major budget emphasis and focus will be MUSIC and PRAYER and people who belong to this type of a church are looking for THE SPIRIT to move.
Third purpose or focus – FELLOWSHIP
This church would be viewed as a FAMILY REUNION CHURCH where everyone comes together to enjoy a good meal, time spent talking and sharing over a coffee, and events centered on the members of THE CONGREGATION who are FAMILY MEMBERS. In this church the key is wanting to BELONG and the pastor or leader is seen as a CHAPLAIN to the “family.” This is a close knit group who enjoy each other’s company and allow people to feel that they BELONG.
This church will value LOYALTY and TRADITION and spend a lot of time and effort working on projects such as POTLUCK suppers and other FELLOWSHIP HALL events. The source of legitimacy or the thing that holds them together and makes them feel good about themselves is OUR HERITAGE.
Forth purpose or focus – EDIFICATION
Here the church is seen as a BIBLE CLASSROOM and the pastor is the INSTRUCTOR or main teacher. The people are seen as STUDENTS and the focus is on THE COMMITTED – those who are serious about learning more about the Word of God (the Bible) and simply want to KNOW. BBIBLE KNOWLEDGE is key and a central value for those attending this church.
At almost all events people will bring their Bibles and NOTEBOOKS. Often there are printout (outlines) supplied of what is being taught, and OVERHEADS (PowerPoint) are used to bring clarity to what is being taught. A successful meeting (sense of legitimacy) is when the Bible has been TAUGHT VERSE BY VERSE.
Fifth purpose or focus – MINISTRY
This is what is known as a SOCIAL CONSCIENCE CHURCH where the primary focus is MINISTRY and the leader is seen as a REFORMER. The emphasis can be varied – from “Save the Whales,” to abortion; from “Going Green” to feeding the hungry. The people in this church will be viewed as ACTIVISTS and usually only the really committed – the CORE – become publically involved in ministering.
The key term in this church is to CARE. The emphasis is JUSTICE AND MERCY. The measure of success and source of legitimacy is found in the NUMBERS OF NEEDS MET. You will often see the CORE members working on collecting signatures on PETITIONS and walking in picket lines with PLACARDS as they support local workers and causes that are in the spotlight at that time.
Each church – and thus each leader – needs to take an honest look at the church they are involved in and determine what kind of a church it has become. And, then work towards becoming healthy and balanced. This would mean that all five biblical purposes are emphasized and the very supernatural life and nature of the Lord would be flowing in the events and activities of the church.
In this healthy environment people would be equipped to do the work of the ministry and supernatural power would be evident as people went about doing what the Lord called them to do. People would be saved, lives would be transformed, believers would be discipled, trained, equipped, mentored and released to minister and impact their world.