by Matt Slick
The purpose of the church is to worship God (Luke 4:8, John 4:23, Rev. 4:10), study His Word (2 Tim. 2:15, 1 Cor. 4:6), pray (Acts 2:42), love one another (John 13:35, Phil. 1:1-4), help each other (Gal. 6:2), partake of baptism and the Lord's supper (Luke 22:19-20), to learn how to live as godly people (Titus 2:11-12), and to be equipped to evangelize the world (Eph. 4:12, Matt. 28:18-20).
The church is generally seen in two ways: the visible and invisible. The visible church is comprised of all those who attend services, who claim to be Christians, etc. The invisible church is comprised only of those who are actually born again. But the Christian church does not include false religious systems such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc., since they deny the essentials of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, the church is the body of true believers who have trusted in the redemptive work of Christ, who is God in flesh, who died and physically rose from the dead. Therefore, those who claim to be Christians, those who have trusted in Christ by faith alone, are members of the true church. These people attend different local bodies across a multitude of denominations around the world.
Though there isn't a single verse that defines the purpose of the church, Acts 2:42 gives a nice synopsis. It says, "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." All churches should model themselves after this verse.
God has given us teaching elders, who are called pastors, so that we might be equipped "for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ," (Eph. 4:12). 1 Cor. 12:28 tells us that, "God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues." The term, "body of Christ," is another name for the Christian church. The Bible reveals additional aspects of the purpose of the church that are worth viewing:
- To guard the proper teachings of the church, 2 Tim. 2:1-2, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also."
- To discipline believers, Matt. 18:15-17, “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer."
- To become more like Christ, Eph. 4:15-16, " but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ."
- To be subject to pastoral leadership, 1 Pet. 5:1-3, "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock."
- To be unified in Christ, Gal. 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."