Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guest Post: The Purpose Of The Church

Today, I'm excited to have my husband Andy sharing a guest post! Having him contribute to my blog at times is something that we've talked about doing for awhile now. His writing style and subject content is a little different and deeper than what I normally post here. But change can be a good thing! Please read along and leave your thoughts in the comments!

The Purpose Of The Church
Does your church have a mission or vision statement? Does your church have a clearly defined purpose? With so many different churches, denominations and theologies surrounding us today, it is quite easy to find our true purpose and reason for living this life muddied. I’d like to make an attempt to clean up some of the mess. And in the true spirit of Mary Ann’s House, it is quite practical and simple.

Right off the bat let’s look at the great commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

A couple of points to ponder…

If all authority was given to Jesus and He is sending us out as his witnesses to make disciples, then we go with that authority, all authority! But what does it mean to “make disciples”? Well, make means “to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about, to cause to be or become; render.” So we are to produce disciples. But what is a disciple? A disciple is a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower. Now, we can only produce what we are and what we know. So if we have not taken the time to actually be a disciple, to be a follower of Christ, how can we in turn make one?

Let’s take the time now to dig a little deeper into what it means to actually BE a disciple.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

First we must focus on the word “devoted,” zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection. It requires absolute commitment. Devotion is not a hobby or something you do for 15 minutes in the morning. Devotion is a representation of who you are. Think of it in these terms, where you deposit your time and effort is what you are truly devoted to.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

There are Four things a disciple of Christ is to be devoted to.

1. The apostles’ teaching. But what is the apostle’s teaching? Look back at the great commission. “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” There are seven main commands of Christ to be followed here. And as an act of devotion on your part, here are the scripture references. Take the time to get to know what they are yourself, then you can pass the hope of Christ on to others.

Command #1 Luke 9:23, Acts 17:24-34
Command #2 Matthew 22:37
Command #3 John 13:34-35
Command #4 Matthew 22:39
Command #5 & 6 Matthew 28:19 (I’ve already quoted this one for you.)
Command #7 Matthew 28:20 (I’m making this way too easy, I’ve quoted this one too.)

2. The Fellowship. Now be careful here. This is not just attending church. The Greek word used here is koinônia, literally partnership. To be devoted to the fellowship is to be an active participant, not just to warm a chair or a pew. How are you partnering with your fellowship?

3. The Breaking of Bread. Put simply, there is something special that occurs when believers sit down to a meal together. There is a bonding that takes place. In addition to that, when you participate in a meal by bringing food, or setting the table or washing the dishes, you have shown devotion to those eating with you. You are literally putting into practice the afore mentioned partnership. One person is not doing all the work or shouldering all the responsibility. Mary Ann and I are fortunate as this is a regular part of our Sunday Fellowship.

4. Prayer. I’m not sure this one needs much expounding, however, here we go. This is a time commitment on your part. And the beauty of it is any time works, driving to work, making breakfast, when the kids are napping, anytime!! Now something we all to often forget is that prayer is a two way street. It involves talking and listening, especially listening. Remember God gave you two ears and one mouth and that was on purpose.

There that wasn’t so hard, was it? Now we know what it means to be a disciple. So, now we can make disciples. This simple thing is the purpose for God’s church and quite literally is the church being the church.

Thanks for allowing me to invade the blogosphere, we’ll have to do it again sometime.


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