Ephesians 4:11 states that the church exists: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
This is clear in its expression for the reason that God has invented the church. The church is to equip Christians for service, that is to say they are to be prepared, trained, resourced and given opportunity to serve and obey God. The rest of scripture clearly shows that the four areas with which the church is responsible for this equipping are in the broad areas of Outreach, Community (or Fellowship), Discipleship, and Worship. All that the church is to do according to scripture falls into one of these categories. The necessary point, however, is to understand that the church is supposed to equip, not do. The church as an entity is not to worship for the individual but rather equip them to worship. So the church could teach a person about God, and provide a service with music were that person might come to express worship to God with their fellow believers The church is not to try to make the congregants better Christians (i.e. disciples). But rather equip them through discipleship. That is the church would train, and mentor, provide classes, and service projects where a person might grow in Christ-likeness. The church can’t fellowship for the individual but rather provides opportunities for Christians to gather and build lasting relationships. Most controversially the church is not to outreach for the Christian but rather to provide them with the training, resources and opportunities to assist them in reaching out as individuals. More on Outreach in Next Sunday’s Sermon. Be sure to invite your Friends.
The big answer to the question Why Church? Is that we are stronger together than we are apart. Yes you can accomplish most of what the church offers as an individual but most will have greater success when people do it together. you will grow more, you will be supported, encouraged accountable, and serving more when you are building relationships in a healthy, biblical Christian Community.
At New Life we have a Purpose, a Mission, and a Win. The purpose is the same for all churches to equip Christians in Outreach, Worship, Community, and Fellowship. This is the subject of our current sermon series.
The Mission of New Life is our specific calling and gifting from God for our community. New Life is to be a place that reaches the de-churched, and the “but” people to welcome them into an active, accountable, equipping, church community. The de-churched are those that have some connection with church and many of which claim Christ. Some of them are actually saved some aren’t. The reasons they aren’t involved in church today vary as much as the people themselves. Some of them were hurt by the church. Some of them find the church boring, hypocritical, or non-Christ-like. Some simply left a church because they moved or the church died and they never found another church. The “but” is the common expression of de-churched people…”I’d go to church “But”… I know I should go to church “But”… New Life must be a hospital or rehab center for these people where they can come and fellowship and heal from these “Buts”. However, New Life is not called to be a Nursing home where people come and wallow in their hurts. When a person goes to a rehab center they are expected to recover and leave better than they were before. When a person enters a nursing home there is often little hope that they will get to leave, or be better than they once where. The Church is a hospital and rehab center not a Nursing home. So New Life is supposed to reach the de-churched through Outreach, Community, Discipleship, and Worship, and then involve and equip them for these same areas of service. The purpose is the means for accomplishing the mission.
Finally, New Life’s Win is how New Life is able to determine whether or not and how well they are fulfilling their purpose and mission. The Win at New Life is connecting People with People and People with God. After all what is Worship and Discipleship people connecting and growing in relationship, understanding and intimacy with God. What is Outreach and Community, People connecting and building relationships with people. So New Life is winning in this world when we help in Connecting People with People and People With God.