This time of challenge to the church’s activities worldwide and to local congregations has been a reflective one. We have been led to ask serious questions about the reasons for which our churches exist.
This may be our best chance at a constructive biblical reset. A foundational purpose of the church is to evangelise the lost. Now this purpose does not minimise or reduce the importance of its other functions, such as the edification of the body or the exaltation of God. But it is necessary to see the difference between our duty and our purpose as Christians.
While the first duty of the church is to worship God, the church’s primary purpose while on earth is to evangelise the lost. The church has been entrusted with the good news of Christ’s salvation and the task of conveying that to the world.
As we consider our future, the church’s mission engagement in evangelism is essential. Without it, the church eventually dies. Each scripturally mandated function of the church holds importance, but they are not all the church’s primary role in it’s community.
The church’s purpose is to continue to add believers to itself until it is made complete, with believers fully engaged in glorifying God. Its primary mandate is to preach the gospel of Christ to all people and people-groups.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost demonstrates this, as the NT church is birthed in Acts 2:1–11. The Holy Spirit’s arrival as the gospel was being proclaimed to many foreign people resulted in repentance and conversion, and the church was born! The Holy Spirit empowered the gospel message to save souls, continuing Christ’s mission to save the lost. That gospel proclamation has the same purpose today.
The last command that Jesus gave His followers, recorded in Acts 1:8, was to evangelise everywhere from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ words prove that evangelism is the heartbeat of a Christian’s life and, by extension, the activity of the whole church community.
Matthew reserved the climax of his gospel for Jesus’ direct command to go forth and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). In the recorded order of Jesus’ words, He told the disciples first to go and make disciples, and then to train them. Evangelism comes first.
Paul asks rhetorically in Romans 10:14–15, “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”
Worshipping God, building up believers and discipling converts cannot be separated from the message of the gospel changing lives. All are necessary for Christians to be beacons of light in the darkness of a fallen world. Christians living out Christ’s values are supposed to make Christ himself visible! There is no such thing as clubhouse Christianity.
This mission should be evident both inside the church’s walls and in our day-to-day lives. The Gospel message should be clear in the church’s music, giving and preaching, as well as in all forms of private worship (Romans 12:1). It is when churches lose focus on evangelism that they become inwardly focused.
As we reset our churches post-Covid, we must pursue our core purpose. The gospel itself has not changed, but it changes everything. John Piper puts it well when he says, “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” The goal of evangelism is to produce worshippers.
God has invited you and me to join the mission!