What is church supposed to be about anyway? That question has fostered everything from constructive dialogue to fistfights in church parking lots. An ocean of ink has been spilled on books published with the intent to provide “the” angle that resolves all debate and ends all discussion.
Some would say the purpose of the church is to care for the sheep. After all, the church is led by shepherds who are to feed and care for the flock. Others would say that the church exists to spread the gospel through evangelism. Jesus first words were “repent” and his last words were “go.” That translates into making converts for Jesus! Or was it disciples? You know what I mean. Then there is the group that suggests that the church needs to meet the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged. Feeding the poor, clothing the naked, providing shelter for those with no roof is what Jesus said the final judgment would consist of. Another group would say that the church exists to teach people the Scriptures. Strong Bible teaching and preaching is what the church should focus on. The church should produce people who know the Bible and how to defend the truth.
So which is it?
I think all of these suggestions are beneficial and contain some element of truth, but ultimately each one falls short of Jesus’ vision of the church. This weekend I spoke on this topic from 2 Timothy 2:1-6. In short, the New Testament advocates a church that develops and releases spiritual leaders who minister to those in need, are actively sharing their faith, who strive to seek justice in their communities and world, and who are able to feed themselves from the Bible and in turn, teach others.
To use a simple analogy, the church is not a hospital for sinners and saints. The church is more akin to a medical school that trains and equips doctors to be the presence of Christ. If we can get that distinction down, we can become the church as Jesus intended.