October 13, 2021
What is the purpose of the church?
Any person and organization can lose sight of the goal. When you read the letters that Christ had John send to the churches in Revelation 2-3, it is obvious that the church is no exception. Drift occurs when we fail to stay focused on what our objective is. For many years, we have tried to maintain our focus, in part, by developing a statement of our purpose, and then using it as a grid for our ministries. This statement of purpose is a summary of what the Bible teaches about a church. It does not say everything that could be said, but it is useful.
But, is this necessary? I would not say that you cannot have a church without one. But, Jesus summarized the purpose of his life (Mark 10:45) and Paul summarized the purpose of his life as well (Romans 15:20), and they both clearly followed those objectives. So, following their lead, I think that a statement of purpose is useful.
The statement of purpose that we adopted reads: Cornerstone Baptist Church exists to glorify God by leading believers to become more like Christ through Worship, Instruction, Fellowship and Evangelism. Notice the key elements of it. It is doxological. Everything that we do is to honor and reflect God. This is to ensure that our focus is on God’s fame and is designed to call us to consistently follow His Word in all things. It is limiting. The church is limited in the sense that it is only made up of believers. The church is essentially not an event or a location. It is comprised of genuine followers of Christ. It is defining. Worship is all that I am responding to all that God is. Instruction is teaching one another how to follow Christ. Fellowship is helping one another look more like Jesus. Evangelism is sharing the gospel with our world.
Let’s try to apply this now. Scenario #1 – A local high school calls and wants to rent our facility for a graduation ceremony. Obviously, we have no direct involvement with the event other than allowing them to use our facility. Is this Worship? No. Instruction? No. Fellowship? No. Evangelism? Well, it might create some goodwill and recognition, but we really can’t say that it is directly resulting in sharing the gospel. Scenario #2 – A local elementary school asks us if we would host a Trunk or Treat for their kids. This is a school that we serve with our Connect Ministry on Thursdays so we already know some of the students and would love to meet more of them and their parents. This is an event that provides multiple opportunities to meet and interact with people in our community and invite them to VBS and other things. Is it Worship? No. Instruction? No. Fellowship? No. Evangelism? Yes.
Recently, the elders suggested simplifying the statement of purpose so that it is a little easier for people to remember. The suggested one reads: “Cornerstone Baptist Church exists for God, for the Church, for the world.” This is also doxological, limiting, and defining, and we trust useful. It simply summarizes the one we’ve used in our recent past. Our statement of purpose is actually in the language of our constitution, so in our November Members' Meeting, we are proposing a motion in which this simpler one is adopted by the members.
So, what if the members voted no? We would continue to use the one we have. What if the members vote yes? The language of the new one would replace the previous one in the constitution. One of the things that I love about our polity is how much the congregation is needed to be part of things like this. Therefore, a motion such as this provides a great opportunity for us to be reminded of who we are and why we exist. Adopting slogans and statements do not create change, but taking the truths of God’s Word to heart does. It is always good to consider freshly what God has called us to be and do and we must never lose sight of that.
Grace and Peace,
Sunday’s Text: 1 Samuel 1:1-20 (new series)