Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). He is the builder of the Church and He is building it according to a set pattern and for specific purposes; His pattern and His purposes.
However, often when planting a new work for the Lord or moving an existing work forward we forget that He is the Builder and that He has very specific plans and purposes for His Church. And, as leaders of His Church we often forget, when pastoring, that He is the One building the work and that His purposes for His Church have not changed.
So we need to carefully follow what He has said (in the scriptures) and what He is currently saying (specific prophetic indications and direction for your ministry) as we plant and as we pastor or lead a local Church.
The Church was designed by God for a purpose. In fact, there are five basic purposes for each and every Church if we are building biblically. Dr. Rick Warren made these well known in his best seller “The Purpose-Driven Church.” God has designed 5 main purposes for the Church: outreach (evangelism or soul-winning), worship, fellowship, discipleship and service.
These five basic purposes of every local expression of the Body of Christ are based on the example of the early Church as found in Acts, Chapter 2:42-47…
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (DISCIPLESHIP – Edify) and to the fellowship (FELLOWSHIP – Encourage), to the breaking of bread and to prayer (WORSHIP – Exalt). Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need (SERVICE – Equip). Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (OUTREACH – Evangelism).
OUTREACH – is the major work of the Church. We are called to continue the work of the Lord who came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He gave us The Great Commission which is “to go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” (Matthew 28:18-20) and He cannot return to claim His Church and take us with Him into Heaven until every people group upon the face of the Earth has heard the Good News that Jesus saves (Luke 24:47). We are called, empowered, and sent to evangelize the world – the whole world – and win people to the Lord.
This is our MISSION as believers – to go into the COMMUNITY in which we live and on a daily basis tell others of “the night-and-day difference that Jesus made in our lives” (1 Peter 2:9 The Message Version). We are to WITNESS to others and present the Gospel whenever the opportunity presents itself.
There are two things that we do on Earth that we will not be able to do in Heaven. When you get to Heaven you will not be able to sin or evangelize. Guess which one the Lord would have you do while you are still on the Earth?
We are called to reach the lost with the message of hope and the Gospel of Jesus “which is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). This is the PURPOSE that He has given to us as believers. It is the reason we live and is to be the FOCUS of our daily lives. As believers, when we reach out in love, our life takes on eternal meaning and our life has SIGNIFICANCE.
WORSHIP – As those who love the Lord we gather with other believers and do not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:25). We gather at least weekly for praise and worship as we exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and express our individual and corporate love for Him. As we sing praises to Him and express our heart, His presence is experienced and His Word is received so that together we hear the voice of the Lord regularly. There are many things the Lord reveals corporately that He never reveals simply to one individual. Believers who forsake the assembly do not walk in the full revelation of the Father’s love, plans and purposes.
As we worship the Lord in our assemblies and allow the Holy Spirit free reign to minister as He desires we will MAGNIFY the Lord as we worship Him “in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24). We should be preparing ourselves for this weekly time together when the Lord will move, minister and speak by His Holy Spirit. Our souls must be prepared and our spirits ready to honor Him as we express our love for Him who died for us – “loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Matthew 22:37).
We should be inviting non-believers to join us in this WORSHIP experience as they will come to know that God is real and amazing as they hear prophesy and see the Spirit move and minister (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). So, this can be an event that involves both believers and non-believers and thus is targeted towards the CROWD. This is smaller than the “audience” we have in Evangelism (see above) but still can involve major numbers of people.
Here, during the gathering to worship and minister to the Lord as He ministers to us we find and receive the POWER to live on for the coming week. We find direction, encouragement, comfort, purpose and even renew our commitment to follow Him. This time together actually becomes a FORCE for living in our individual lives and in our family units. This is a time of STIMULATION for our faith and our focus in life.
FELLOWSHIP – is most important for all believers and especially for new believers. Here the Christian finds encouragement and is strengthened and supported by sharing with others who embrace the same beliefs and are travellers on the same path to Heaven. The topics of conversation should be centered on Jesus and what He is doing in the individual’s life. This is more than having coffee together; more than complaining about the weather or giving a report about what you did on your recent days off or your annual holidays. This is Christ-centered conversation that encourages each believer to continue to grow and mature in the things of the Lord.
The objective of coming together is to enjoy the benefits of MEMBERSHIP. Fellowship is something that believers / members can enjoy and appreciate. Those who don’t yet know the Lord can join us but they cannot experience true fellowship as this is for followers of the Lord. Those who are born again, (John 3:3-8) Spirit-filled (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 5:18b) and baptized into the body of Christ (Romans 6:3-4) and thus in MEMBERSHIP and part of the local CONGREGATION are the ones who can fully benefit from the fellowship. It is hoped that as non-believers join with us in this time that they will see our love one-for-another and that this will encourage them to step across the line of faith. The focus is the believers RELATIONSHIP with other believers. This is where we become connected to other believers and find PEOPLE to live with. This is where we form a FAMILY for life and living. This is where we turn to find SUPPORT when we have a need or simply need encouragement.
DISCIPLESHIP – where we edify the believers by teaching them the basic doctrines and beliefs of the Christian faith. These basic doctrines have been taught for two centuries and are basic to all branches of the Christian Church. The “Apostles doctrine” forms the basics of the Christian faith and form the message of the Church to the world in which we find ourselves. The message and the basic beliefs of the Church do not change. Our methods of proclaiming the message must (see evangelism) but the basic beliefs of the Church have been established since the early Church.
All believers must be discipled in the basics as these basic teachings form the FOUNDATION upon which a powerful life for the Lord must be built (Matthew 7:24-27). As a Christian learns and grows in the basic truths they are reaching MATURITY and will actually become more and more COMMITTED to the faith as they come to understand it more and apply it directly to all aspects of their daily life. These PRINCIPLES to live by – learned as we are being discipled – allow our WALK with the Holy Spirit and other believers to be stable and secure, corrected rooted and grounded in the love of God as found and expressed in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:17). STABILITY as a believer in the midst of all situations and circumstances is the result of this life-long discipling process.
SERVICE – where we are equipped with the Gospel and move forward in learning to serve others supernaturally. The Lord states that the things He did we are also to do on a daily basis (John 14:12). We are to serve others supernaturally as He did – healing people, bringing freedom and deliverance, allowing the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear not to mention raising the dead. We serve out of a motivation of love – agape or God’s love flowing through us.
This means that every believer has a MINISTRY that they are to do for the Lord. Every Christian has somewhere they can serve others in the Name of the Lord. The people who take the time and put in the effort to discover their gifts and calling are usually those who are the CORE of the local church – those the leaders can count on and who are there to help the church to fulfill her vision and mandate. They understand that there is always WORK that needs to be done and willingly pick up their task among the many that need to be accomplished. They see the Christian walk as a PROFESSION to be lived out and not just a set of beliefs to be embraced. As a result they chose to FUNCTION within the context of their faith both in society and the local church thus finding fulfillment and SELF-EXPRESSION as a believer.
The Church is being built by the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. He is bringing correction and adjustment to the local churches that currently exist and are open to the ministry of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). Foundational shifts are taking place in existing churches so that they can be healthier and begin reproducing – seeing many come to the Lord as well as planting another church as the work grows and begins to multiply its impact for the Kingdom. As well, the Lord is leading those planting a new work to build according to the biblical pattern and thus pour a correct foundation for a healthy, life-giving church right from the start.
There are five basic purposes for the Church as designed and built by the Lord. Man has added many other programs and purposes in an attempt to attract people to their local assemblies. However, a crowd does not make a church and often churches are no more than a circus entertaining believers and no longer discipling, training, equipping, mentoring and then releasing them into ministry done in the Name of the Lord. It is time for this to change as the Lord brings new life to His Church and prepares her for the End-times great harvest of souls.
The material covered in this article fits into and explains the following “chart” of the five purposes as found in Dr. Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose-Driven Church.”
Also reference a second article on this web site’s free resources section about the plans and purposes of the Lord for His Church speaking about bringing the local Church into a place of health and wholeness where people can then encounter the life-changing power of the written and living Word of God. This article is entitled: “The Church That Releases Supernatural Life”