Summary: This is a study of the Ministries of the Church of Christ in this world. Each congregation needs to examine its work to ensure that it is fulfilling God’s glorious purpose.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus emphatically stated that He would build His "Church and the gates of Hades would not overpower it." Indeed, following His resurrection and ascension, we find His establishing the Church on Pentecost in ACTS 2. Throughout the remainder of the Book of ACTS, we see it "having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the Chief Cornerstone. (Eph.2:20)"
But, why did Christ establish His Church? For what purpose did He establish this spiritual organization on the Earth? What is its mission?
Let us take some time and look into the Scriptures to discover the missions of the Church; that is, of the Church universal and the local congregation of the Lord’s Church. We, who are members of both, need to - as Paul puts it - "prove what the Will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
I.EVANGELIZE THE LOST WORLD
Jesus Christ told His disciples, in Luke 19:10, "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." As His Body on this Earth, the Church’s top priority is what was and is Christ’s top priority - saving lost souls.
We have got to understand that there are many organizations and agencies in this world that can and do feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, provide association for the lonely and even comfort and protect widows and orphans. But in the whole entire world, there is not another organization that can bring the message of Salvation to lost souls than the Lord’s Church. For, claims 1 Tim. 3:15, only the "church of the living God" is "the pillar and support of the truth."
It is the Lord’s "eternal purpose", as it is stated in Ephesians 3:10-11, "that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church."
No other work or ministry, regardless of how benevolent or charitable it might be, should get in the way of this most critical of tasks - preaching the Word of Salvation to lost souls.
Jesus’ last words to those who would help build the Church, found in Mark 16:16, were: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Now, what does He mean by "every creature".
Obviously, Jesus is not referring to the members of the animal kingdom. In fact, Jesus is not even referring to every human being.
Turning to Matthew 28:19, we see that "preaching the Gospel" is the process of "making disciples of all the nations". Thus, we learn that the "creatures" that we are to be taking the Gospel to are those who have the ability or capacity to become "disciples"; that is, individuals who can understand the message of salvation and take upon themselves the yoke of responsibility of being a follower of Christ.
Not all have the capacity to become a disciple. We do not encourage or mandate infants or little children to obey the Gospel because they do not have the capacity to fully understand the teachings of the New Covenant, let alone ’observe all that Christ commands us’. Even some older individuals do not have the mental capacity to truly repent, learn Christ’s teachings, and obey all the commandments of the Lord. Individuals in these classes are already under God’s grace and need not to obey the Gospel. There is no need for us to use our time and energies in evangelizing such.
That is fine, for there are multitudes of individuals who need salvation from sin, individuals who can and should call upon Christ and become His disciples.
But, as Paul questions in Romans 10, "How then shall they call upon Him Whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?"
The Church or local congregation must send out those to preach the Gospel. Every congregation has, at least, one person who has enough knowledge of God’s Word to make it their primary focus - their primary ministry - to reach the lost in their local community.
But let us not think that the responsibility for evangelism is to fall exclusively upon the shoulders of the preacher or ordained evangelist. Peter tells us we all should be able and ready to share the Good News, in 1 Peter 3:15, "sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,"
Brothers and sisters, if the Church doesn’t take the Gospel to the lost, what or who will? The answer is: Nobody! If the Church - that is, the local congregation - is not putting evangelism first in its priorities, it is failing in its chief purpose for its existence.