Why do we need church? What’s the purpose? Maybe you are like me and you’ve speculated on the answer to those questions. I believe the answer to this question is hugely important. How you and I answer has ramifications on how we interact and connect with the church. Your answer will affect the kind of church you attend or don’t attend or if you even attend church at all. It’s an important question I believe Christians need to think about and take the time to decide themselves.
I would first like to say I do not believe that the church is primarily here for me. Typically in our western consumeristic minds we tend to treat church for what we can get out of it. Maybe I don’t say that with my words, but my actions say more than enough. It’s a very consumeristic approach to church. But I suspect the church is so much bigger than me.
I love this quote from Erwin McManus, “The church isn’t here for us, we are the church. And we are here for the world.” In a very condensed way he nails what the church is supposed to be about.
I like this quote because it says a lot with few words. Let’s think about this a little more. “The church isn’t here for us.” The church really doesn’t exist so you and I can listen to good music, hear good preaching, and have “fun” events to go to. Not that that is all bad, but if that is the totality of our view, then the true power and purpose of the church is minimized. The church is immeasurably bigger than you and me, and it doesn’t exist solely for our pleasure and preferred methods.
“We are the church.” We have a place where we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, belong and can come together as a family. I believe the church is here for the believers in Christ, to build one another up. Part of the reason I think consumeristic thinking about the church is dangerous is because it takes the focus of the church away from the body and places it on us individually. The beauty of the church comes when a group of people come together and do life together. Consumeristic thinking takes away that beauty.
“And we are here for the world.” The church exists to strengthen the believers and give them support to go out into the world. This is our charge as Christians, to go into the world and make disciples. There’s no way that I or any individual could make a sizable impact on the world. But imagine for a moment what we could do together. Imagine the impact a group of likeminded people could have on a community. Imagine the life change that would happen if the church committed to making disciples everywhere they go.
I’ve seen churches embrace the building up of believers but neglect the world. And I’ve seen churches tell everyone in the world but neglect building their brothers and sisters up in the Word. Neglecting either one is a travesty of our purpose. The church is here to build the believers up in their relationship with God so that they can witness to the world.
Let’s be that kind of church. Let’s be the church that selflessly loves each other and constantly pursues others as Jesus first pursued us. “The church isn’t here for us, we are the church. And we are here for the world.”
I want to make one thing in this post clear. I am not proposing we go find a church that does this and join up there. I’m proposing we do this at the church we are at. The solution isn’t found in pointing fingers. The solutions comes when me and you start living out this mission in our lives. We are the church. Let’s live it out.