Many years ago I was handed a phenomenal book called Purpose Driven Church. I ATE it up! LOVED it! I actually couldn’t put it down and I’ve probably read it a few dozen times over the last 12 years. It was incredibly foundational for me and helped me figure out what I believe about the Church and why it exists. I actually had the privilege of attending one of the first Purpose Drive Church Conferences at Saddleback Church as well and that experience was an ‘ebenezer’ type moment for me. It blew me away and increased my love and belief in the local Church.
The basic premise of PDC says that the Church has 5 unique purposes…Evangelism, Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry. Those purposes are found in the great commandment and the great commission.
I agree with that to some extent after all these years, but I would probably role it all into one purpose…that has a few different focuses.
The growth of Jesus Followers
That’s my number one purpose of the Church. When I first started in ministry 17 years ago, I would have said to reach the lost at all cost. 5 years into ministry I would have said to worship God. 10 years in I would have said to build fellowship and give people a great place to serve.
Today I turn to Acts 2:42.
“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.”
I think the Church exists to help followers of Jesus grow in their faith and maturity in Christ. I think this is done in a variety of ways…discipleship, evangelism, worship, ministry and fellowship. All of those focuses, when united together, should produce fully devoted followers of Jesus.
On a side note. I talk to my kids all the time about the Church. Why it exists. Why we attend or don’t attend. What’s the purpose…etc. Last week I was talking about the Church and Zach said…”I think the purpose of the church is to learn fun facts about Jesus”! I thought that was super cute!!!
This is why I believe in small groups so deeply. And…let me say this about small groups. I don’t believe in a small group ministry, or small groups based on a book study, or small groups as a program.
I believe the Church should embrace and live out small groups as a way of life. The early church was all about community. Breaking down the large community to houses and doing it in such a way that astounded people with how incredible they took care of each other and how they grew in their faith.
I believe that there should be no higher priority for the local church than the growth of followers of Jesus. Because when they’re growing and maturing in their faith…they will reach those that don’t know Christ and they will serve their family, friends and communities.