Why does the local church exist?
What is the purpose of the local church fellowship?
We want to consider specific questions such as:
Does our enemy Satan want you to come to church? If not, why not?
Why do we come to church?
What is the main priority of church life?
Is it bible teaching or preaching or perhaps evangelism? Or is it something else?
Before we tackle the question of priorities, we need to consider the fact that every church fellowship should have aims and a vision.
The aims are simply the goals ahead, i.e. the direction of the fellowship.
When you play darts you have to aim at something. Most times when we aim at nothing, then that is exactly what we achieve nothing.
The vision is obtained by mixing faith to the aims that we believe God has given us.
If a fellowship has the aim to preach the Gospel in a new local area, then by adding faith to the aim then they might have a vision to a start a home group of some form of outreach there, believing God that he will bless them in it.
Having a vision keeps you going when times are difficult. Jesus has a vision for his church which kept him going through the agonies of the cross. You must stick to the aims and visions that God has given to your fellowship through thick and thin!
Priorities of Church Life
Are there any models in scripture that can help us assign priorities to the various functions in the church fellowship such as evangelism, praise and worship, bible study etc.? Fortunately, there are!
John 15:1-8 (see sermon at bottom of this page- The Vine and the Branches)
The pattern here is that we abide in the vine i.e. we share in intimate fellowship with the life of Christ, then flowing from this communion, we begin to show that same agape true love to each other. Then we can interact with the world in terms of evangelism etc. This is the general pattern in Colossians and Ephesians.
The Purpose of Fellowship Life
Fellowship life is all about expressing and developing our commitments.
First, we must show commitment to God, next to each other and then to those in the world.
Here are the main reasons we come to church.
1. To express our love to God.
2. To produce maturity, stability, and holiness in our lives.
3. To encourage believers to love each other with good works flowing from love.
4. To promote the care of the poor (widows and orphans)
5. To preach the Gospel.
6. To do good in the world.
Let us now look at these 6 main reasons.
# To express our love to God
The shorter Westminster catechism puts it like this “the chief aim of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God created us for his own pleasure. He must become our greatest pleasure. The main thrust of attending church must be the Lord himself, with all the good works following on from this. We can express our love to Him in many ways.
Thanksgiving, praise, and worship. Thanksgiving is acknowledging what he has done. Praise is acknowledging who He is, and worship is a heart-to-heart connection with the Lord.
We also show our love to him, by fellowshipping with him in prayer and bible study. The bible is the word of God and is our daily bread. In the bible we find out who He is and what He has done. Prayer is like breathing as we give and receive communication to and from God. Giving is part of our worship acknowledges who is our source of all good things.
If you love him, you will keep his commandments.
# To produce maturity, stability, and holiness in our lives
God has placed the fivefold ministry gifts in the body specifically to bring maturity so that each person will be able to perform their unique God-given ministry and therefore the church will be built up. Even when we know the word of God, we often neglect to learn how to apply it at church. God has specifically placed leaders in his church not only to preach and teach but to show an example of how to live godly lives. Stability comes from having sound doctrine. Holiness will grow as we mature; it is our love for the Lord in a sense that determines our rate of maturing! God desires stability in the flock, people who do not know the bible will never be stable.
# To encourage believer to love with good works flowing from Love
It is at church we are often reminded of the command to love God and each other, not in word only but indeed, practically, and sincerely. Faith without works is dead. We need to ask the Lord to bring us into the good works he has prepared for us from before the foundation of the world. A good deed is any deed performed for God’s glory. A good deed is motivated by love (of God and our neighbour). A good deed is performed by faith working through love. No genuinely good deed shall go unrewarded, not even a cup of cold water.
# To promote care of the poor (windows and orphans, and those in want)
God wants us to look after our own. Our own includes our natural family and our super-natural family i.e. His family, the church of Jesus Christ. No one in our midst should go without any of the basics of life when someone in the church can supply it. Lord, make us sensitive to the needs within our part of the body. What do we have that God did not give us anyway and what better way of acknowledging this than to share what we have?
# To preach the Gospel
The gospel is preached in the local church fellowship. The wonderful message of the gospel is taught and is then exported by the congregation to their relatives, friend, workmates, and neighbours. It is the body’s duty to take the gospel out not just the evangelists and leaders!
# To do good in the world
Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, and since we are in Christ and he is us, that same light shines through us, illuminating the acts of love and kindness which God inspires us to do. Preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons, being a peacemaker. These and every other good deed bear witness to the unbelievers that Jesus Christ is alive and still performing miracles through his body the local church.