What is the purpose of the church?

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Churches find themselves involved in many activities. Which are the important ones? Which are the activities God assigned to us in Scripture, and which ones have we given ourselves? Many times what we do as churches isn't sinful, it's just irrelevant in the eternal sense. It doesn't bother the devil one bit. When we must make decisions on how to spend our resources (including time), doesn't it make sense to focus on the essentials?

I see three basic missions for the church: Evangelism, edification of the Body of Christ, and worship. The first two were given to us by Christ Himself in the Great Commission in Matt 28:18-20 when He said, "make disciples". This is a two part mission: First, evangelize the souls, then build them up (edify) into mature Christians. Lastly we're called to worship. Indeed, I've heard it said this is the very reason we were created.

So whatever we do as a church should be geared toward at least one of those three missions. Example: If we feed the poor, evangelism must be part of the program. If not, we've met the physical need (somewhat important), but failed to offer the opportunity to avoid eternal hell (critically important). Your thoughts?

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2001


Rev. Price what a great commentary and question! I have a new church we are four weeks old, and the great commission is the foundation of our church. Every thing we do is built upon bringing the love of Christ to everyone. We have an evangelism series starting in a couple of weeks on Mondays at noon time. Called "Bring your lunch to the lord" We will be offering economic development classes on such subjects as "how to start a business, mutual funds for fifty dollars a month, setting a budget, how to buy a first home etc." Our director of evangelism is a business woman and will teach our first class, which will include her testimony of how God provided her business. One of the things I am excited about the AME church is that we do focus on the wholistic needs of individuals, spiritual, physical and emotional. Christ did all of these things. I have a passion for evangelism partly because of my love for Christ but also because a pastor came for me when I was a teenager and a high school drop out. He did not wait for me to come to church. Christ calls us to go and tell the good news, he did not say "wait until they walk in the door and tell them" Your question is thought provoking and important as we start the new year. By the way I am interested in what your church is doing, you said I think in a previous thread you are doing some non traditional things. What are they? Happy New Year!

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2001

Reverend Rogers, Thanks for your reply. What are we doing that's different? First, let me say that I'm not an AME minister. I'm a licensed minister of the Assemblies of God. My city is in the midst of the Bible belt, but even by those standards we are saturated with churches. In fact, there are four other AG churches I'm aware of. So it was a curious thing when my pastor was powerfully called by God to come from out of state to start yet another church. Our first anniversary will be next Sunday.

His word from God was that he was to plant a church that would be part of a revival such as I described in another thread (Sonship ministry) on this page. We have truly been a miracle church, and the list of them is too long to repeat here.

Chuck, my pastor, has a philosophy that traditional church isn't wrong, but it doesn't appeal to everyone. It's those others we're attempting to reach. First to go as I mentioned was the titles. Our pastors are Chuck, Johnny, and Paul. Next is the dress code. T-shirt and jeans is fine. I really enjoy this because whether I need to move chairs and tables, dance, or lie on my face before God I don't find myself constrained by fancy clothes. Then there's the list of rules. We maintain the Assemblies of God's Statement of Fundamental Truths, which are 16 points of doctrine not up for debate, and that's about all. Individual conduct beyond that is between the believer and God. Only violations of clearly stated Scripture can be cause for church discipline. Then there's church govt. Chuck recognizes, and the church agrees, that the voting system is often a cause for division. We vote only on those issues required by state law, specifically the election of leaders and major expeditures. From there those leaders are empowered to make whatever decisions they deem necessary. We aren't going to allow any church splits over the color of the carpet. Who cares anyway? Next is music. We use Christian praise and worship, with a heavy concentration of Hillsong Australia. If you're not familiar with it, it's produced by Hills Christian Life Center in Sydney. In many cases the lyrics have you sing not ABOUT God (God is so good), but TO God (You are so good). Singing about God is fine. Many Psalms do just that. But when you sing to God you combine prayer and song...and it's almost beyond description, especially when combined with the soaring musical style of Hillsong Australia. I find myself worshipping at a much higher level than at any time of my life. Not singing, worshipping, because oftentimes I can't sing, and I'm not alone there. You'll see people in our church on their hands and knees in tears - another reason to dispense with dresses and stockings!

In a nutshell, the key philosophy is maximum liberty without compromising Scripture. To reach the "everyone else" category of people everyone from the banker to the biker must be tolerant of each other, or better yet, love each other.

Finally, and most important, is what we're doing in concert with 6 other churches. These include an African American Baptist church, a Spanish speaking Assembly of God, our English speaking Assembly of God, an independent Charasmatic church, a United Methodist church, and a Southern Baptist church. We're engaged with them in joint prayer meetings praying for the type of revival I described in the other thread. This is another reason we must allow maximum liberty. The type of revival we forsee will bring in literally EVERY type of person, and they must all be made to feel welcome in the church. The last thing we want is for new Christians to be presented a list of man-made rules of conduct and appearance.

Hope this helps. By the way, congratulations on your new work. May it, and you be blessed with all the fulness of God Very God.

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2001

Wow! your work sounds exciting, being in the west, things tend to be more laid back. Dress is casual at my church in terms of the congregation. People wear jeans and also dress up. I always wear clergy robes and stoles. But the congregation calls me Denise or Pastor Denise. I agree with you, I do sense there is a sense of rival happening in this country. Our church meets in a Mexican Restaraunt, and we sit at tables, and those that are coming have not gone to church in years and really want to hear good preaching. One of the things I like about the AME church is the sense of connectionalism which is a cornerstone of Methodism. I have been blessed with a Bishop and Presiding Elder who have a heart for evangelism. By the way we have one Assembly of God church in my town of Bozeman, Montana. And they have a strong presence in town. I hope you will visit the AME churches in your town also. Is there a web site for the praise music you mentioned. I am always looking for new music. Since the people who are coming to my church did not grow up in the church. We are starting from scratch. God is so good. Keep me post on your further activities.

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2001

The Hillsong website is www.hillsclc.org.au/shop/ You can download clips of the music with the MP3 clips being the best quality (and longest download time). They trade in Australian dollars on this site, but there should be a button you can click to get US prices. They offer song books, backtracks, whatever your church is set up for. You can also get CD's on Amazon.com under the Praise and Worship section. Amazon also includes customer reviews, and you'll be struck by the enthusiasm of most of the reviewers.

I have 5 of their albums, and recommend especially "Touching Heaven, Changing Earth", "All Things Are Possible", and the newest "For This Cause", but it's all good. The fast numbers are great, but the ones that really minister are the slow ones.

I'll leave you with a lyric sample from "For This Cause". Say the word, and I will sing for you. Over oceans deep I will follow. If each star was a song, every breath of wind praise, it would still fail by far to say all my heart contains. I simply live for you.

As the glory of your presence now fills this place, in worship we will meet you face to face. There is nothing in this world to which you can be compared. Glory on glory, praise upon praise! You bind the broken hearted and save all my tears. By your Word you set the captive free. There is nothing in this world which you cannot do. I simply live for you.

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Rev. Price I just checked out the music web site you suggested, I loved it!!! Thanks so much, and to read about thousands of people praising God in music just confirms the Holy Spirit is truly global. I do not know if we have AME churches there in Australia but if not give us a few more years. By the way the web site does have US dollar amounts. I know you are assembly of God, how did you find this AME web site. I am so glad you did!!!! It is so wonderful to talk to other people from different denominations. I know it makes the Devil mad when the christians start working together for the lord. Praise God, welcome aboard.

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Rev. Price,

What are the activities that you consider irrelevant?

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Ooooo talk about a mine field. I don't want to slay any sacred cows, especially as a non-AME minister, so in the interst of Christian unity I'll simply stick to my original assertion. Then I'll ask everyone to examine their own church's activities. I see evangelism, edification, and worship as the three overarching tasks given to us in Scripture. If there are others please let me know. A good example can be found in the interaction between Reverend Denise Rogers and myself. We didn't lead each other to Christ, but we did edify each other, and I hope I've helped her church worship a little better. Mission accomplished. Could we have swapped recipes for apple pie? Sure. Would it have been sin? No. Would it have had any eternal benefit? Nope. Should churches make apple pie a major activity, and spend lots of time and money on it? I admit we Christians like to eat, but...well you know. But could I swap recipes with my neighbor and use that to open a door for evangelism? Well well! We can perform that 3-fold mission in innumerable ways, and Reverend Rogers' church has found some creative things to do. Good on them! My church had a New Years Eve party. We played games, ate, and spent a half-hour seeking God on our knees for next year's vision. We were edified, and worshipped.

Question to the Body of Christ: Why do you do what you do? What's your focus? Where do you spend your treasure? What would Jesus care about?

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

One aspect of "Edification" that I think sometimes gets overlooked in the Great Commission is "Discipling." Derived from the latin word for "Student", a disciple implies one who has achieved, or who is in pursuit of, discipline. I believe it should be the work of the local assembly to carry this activity out, using as many tools and weapons as needed to equip our people for the challenge of Christian Mission.

When I think of disciplined Christianity, I think of - prayer, fasting, giving (sacrifical, beyond tithing), teaching, caring, and anticipating needs. I see the emergence of Holy Fruit (Gal 5:22-23) and Holy Gifts (I Cor. 12-14) when discipline has taken root. I see a body of Christ that reflects ongoing and unstopping renewal and maturation (Rom. 12:1- 2) as it embraces and reflects the Mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:9-3:5).

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Rev Price; If I can allow me an opportunity to respond to this important question. Your sugestion that the Church's purpose is defined in her activities of Evangelism, Edification and Worship are undeniably correct. I would classify these activites as the Church's "core competencies". I would extend this discussion by adding that there are additional competencies which define the purpose. The next set of competencies can be described as "secondary". This would involve basic activities like fellowship [forget not the assembling of the saints] and entry & exit rites of passage [baptism, marriage and funerals]. The last set of competencies can be thought of as "tertiary". They would include important activities which promote stable communities [food banks, clothing drives, etc.] advance educational opportunities and unite diverse people together for a common goal. The core competencies are paramount. The other competencies when properly defined make for excellent compliments. QED

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Rev. Price, it has indeed been wonderful corresponding with you. Within the next two months my church will have a get together to discuss our vision for the church and goals that will like to strive for. I believe this is something that should be done yearly, and in Methodism it is. But the local church must also have a vision. If church growth is a goal, then the question needs to be asked "why?" Is it so we can have a mega church and look good, or is it because there are so many that do not know Christ. When the answer is the second response, then their is ownership and excitement within the church for the "Great Commission" becomes real. When I was in seminary my church growth professor was a Southern Baptist and a leading authority on evangelism in the world. I loved him! One of the things that he taught is that it is a spiritual phenomon for the church to grow. For God has called it into existence. So his challenge to us, was for us to get out of God's way! Preach love, and forgiveness, have a personal relationship with God and put Jesus in the middle of every activity that is done in the church and it will grow. Pastor Price I know you are excited about your denomination and I am excited about the AME church, I just feel the Holy Spirit is doing great things in the AME church. Through darkness of segregation, economic depression, jim crow, white supremacists, the AME church has stood strong and grown around the world. God is doing great and wonderful things with our denomination, and we only get stronger. So do stay in touch with me, and the music is awesome that you told me about. I do want you to visit an AME church and hear our music. You will feel right at home.

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Excellent points all! I especially liked Brother Dickens' breakdown of tasks into core, secondary, and tertiary. It passes the logic test. From there I'd encourage everyone to ensure the core tasks are integrated into the secondary and tertiary. Put another way, the lower tasks should relate directly or indirectly to the core. Then they'll bother the devil, and all your work will be relevant in the eternal sense. By the way, Brother Dickens, what does QED mean? Also Sister Rogers, I think I will visit an AME church. I'd also like to make our 6 church prayer network a 7 church network.

Also a quick note about racial history. As you probably know the AG is a Pentecostal denomination, and we owe a great debt to the COGIC, the largest African American Pentecostal denomination as far as I know. In our early years we began to look at establishing churches among the various people groups in the US. It led to the many foreign language and deaf Assemblies of God churches you see today, with our Spanish speaking being the most numerous. However when we looked into planting new works in the African American communities, guess what we found? The COGIC was already there and doing benchmark work. With an assurance the Pentecostal message would be well presented to the African American community, we saw no need to duplicate their excellent work. To me that's simply good stewardship. I'm told this type of efficiency is even more pronounced on the mission field. There are so many areas with no Gospel witness of any type, minimizing duplication passes the logic test. Hopefully as the Day of His Appearing draws closer our differences will become so minor this type of thing will become common in this country too.

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2001

Jesus built his church upon the rock of Faith. He said that he came that we might have life and have life more abundantly. From this I gather that whatever the church does in obedience to the teachings of Jesus that makes the lives of those we touch better, is the role of the church. I suggest that role must change with the times and situation. The preacher said there is a time ans a season for everything. I believe that the church can fight racism by making diciples of the racists that we encounter. It is impossible to love God whom we have not seen and not love our brother whom I see every day, according to the Apostle John. By letting my light shine before all men, some will see Christ and be converted. On the other hand, there are some that will not accept Christ even if He himself came back. Otherwise, He would never have been crucified. Blessings Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2001

QED == "Quod Erat Demonstrabatur" (English: That which was to be demonstrated, or the conclusion of a proof)

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2001

Huh? I think I get it, but not so well that I'll borrow it. Thanks

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2001

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