Why does your congregation exist? Is your church in your local community to attract people so that it can grow larger and larger? Is it there to “meet (felt) needs” or to serve families who want to be a part of your church? Or is it there to minister to various age groups who need a demographic that fits with their preferences? Or what about this one: Is your church there to advance your denomination or tribe? Maybe you think it is there to hold forth the truth. (Paul does call it “the pillar and foundation of the truth.”)There is some truth in all of these, and much more truth in some than in others. But I believe they all fail to answer this question in a proper way.

Your local church is there to serve the kingdom of God, to be the kingdom in local circumscription to use another phrase I learned many years ago. The church is the serving community that exists for the reign of Christ (kingdom) and thus it is for others. In fact, the church is the only organization in your community,  both as an organism and as an organization (form and freedom both exist), that truly exists for others. Simply put, your church is too small if you think that it is there for you only and not for others. We do not exist for the members of the Christian church as an end in itself. I know nothing quite like this claim in all of human history. Here is how I understand this truth.

I do wonder what would happen if Christian leaders, and those who listen to them and support them in their mission, actually agreed that the church is not for them (us) but rather it is there to serve others in the name of Christ and thus for the advancement of his kingdom above everything else. In this case biblical theology, rightly understood and believed, would literally transform what your local church actually looked like.

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Comments

  1. Donbryant.wordpress.com May 10, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Enjoy your stuff. Thanks. Actually the church does exist for the sake of the church, rightly understood. I think a lot of problems arise in ecclesiology and ministry when the church’s own ontology is compromised to make it a means. It alwys ends up not being good enough, not effective enough, not evangelistic enough, not “justice” enough, never, never enough. Believers meeting together in covenant to build one another up in faithfulness to God, offering worship, etc. has value in and of itself. This needs to be said more and more. The self-esteem of churches have been shattered by the “not enough” mindset. I get your point. I don’t disagree. But so few talk about the preciousness of an assembly that is not just a means to the end of “more.” I think a great good would be done if we had more churches enjoying what happens among them rather than constantly pummeling them about doing “more.”

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