What is the Purpose of Church?

There have been three posts this last week that have been quite thought-provoking and have led me to a question that I would like to pose.  The first was the post linking a CT article on Ministry Mulligans. Particularly telling here were the comments on competition and leadership…more collaboration, less competition and more pastor, less CEO. Frankly stoking some pastor’s ego is not a very compelling reason to attend church.

The second was a post by T, Sola or Plura Pastora 3, that continued a conversation on the role of the sermon in church. In this post T posed a number of questions focusing on the role of the sermon in the protestant church. It seems that the sermon is the central focus in Protestant ecclesiology and this leaves us with little to no ecclesiology.  This post led to some conversation in the comments on reasons for attending or leaving a church.

Finally, Scot posted some comments addressing the question What Will Work in Ten Years on College Campuses? as part of a blog series on the site Faith ON Campus. Having spent the last thirty years, not as a campus minister, but as a graduate student, post doctoral scholar, and professor on the campus of several secular research universities, this is a question that I find quite important. In his reply to the question Scot listed four things that he says will work … (1) Jesus and the gospel story about Jesus, (2) the Bible, (3) the Church, and (4) Love. In connection with the church Scot notes:

The church is thriving and it is growing. The belief that the church is about to fall apart is the game of media and publishers and authors, but God’s game is the church of Jesus Christ and it will stand the test of time – so I would encourage us to think of college ministry in ten years to be part of the church’s ministry.

This is an important observation – the church is God’s game, it isn’t an optional part of the Christian scene, some outdated relic of a bygone era. But it is not quite so easy to pin down. On one hand I agree with this statement, on the other hand I am not so sure.

Bearing these things in mind, I would like to pose a question today and hear what you have to say, and I am particularly interested in what those who are involved as pastors think. The question is quite simple and straightforward:

What is the purpose of church, the local gathering of the body of Christ?

Why is church important? What does it, or should it, accomplish or provide?

Why bother?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

If you have comments please visit What is the Purpose of Church? at Jesus Creed.

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