Summary: Christians need to understand that the church gives them what they cannot find anywhere else in the world!
I give all appropriate credit to Rick Warren, "The Purpose Driven Church" for material that made this message possible.
What Earthly Use is the Church, Anyway?
June 3, 2001
In this Pentecost season, when we celebrate the church, it’s logical to ask the question: What earthly use is the church, anyway? What value is there in the church? And to be more personal, what does the church give me/you, anyway?
These are very important questions- not to be pushed aside, and this is a good time of year for us to consider these questions.
Let’s begin in the book of Nehemiah, for a story, that says a great deal to us. This is the story of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, and we learn that halfway through the project the people got discouraged and wanted to give up.
Neh. 4. 6-15- they lost their sense of purpose and became overwhelmed with fatigue, frustration, and fear. This is what happens to us when we don’t understand what earthly use the church is to us. Nehemiah rallied the people back to work by reorganizing the project and recasting the vision for the people. He reminded them of the importance of their work and reassured them that God would help them fulfill his purpose. And the wall was completed in 52 days (6.15).
Although the wall took only 52 days to complete, the people became discouraged at the halfway point- just twenty-six days into the project! Nehemiah had to renew their vision, and this gives us a very important principle for our lives in our church. It is what we can call the “Nehemiah Principle” which tells us that we need to restate and revisit our purpose and vision on a regular basis in order for our church to keep moving forward in the right direction. We’re human, and it’s amazing how quickly we can lose our sense of purpose, as the people of Judah did while building the wall.
Back in November, 1999, and January 2000, I gave a number of messages about the purpose of the church. I’ve spoken, generally, about it on occasion, since, but not necessarily as directly as is really helpful for us in order to keep clearly in mind what it is that we’re doing around here. What is it that the church is contributing to us around here? What earthly good is the church to us around here, anyway?
In Montreal, we have formalized a purpose statement for our congregation. I want to speak from the perspective of that, because it embodies what scripture tells us the church is for. Even though we may not have such a statement, yet, in Cornwall or Rock Forest, it is a scriptural statement from which we can discuss the church and ourselves today. It embodies what we see as the purpose or mission for our congregation.
I want you, today, to understand more clearly how the church provides you with value you cannot find anywhere else in the world! I repeat: the church provides you with value you cannot find anywhere else in the world! That is important to understand and to remember. That is something you have known, but may have wandered from or may have forgotten over the years. But it’s vital for you to know that the church- your church congregation, as part of Jesus’ great church- provides you with things you cannot find anywhere else in the world!
I want you to understand what you have available to you, that you can get nowhere else! It’s rather incredible, and we’ll see what God wants for you.
Col. 3.15- Living Bible- “This is your responsibility and privilege as members of his body.” There is both a responsibility and a privilege attached to each of the 5 purposes of a Christian church congregation. There are both responsibilities and privileges of being a member of a church family. There are both responsibilities to fulfill and privileges to enjoy! Sometimes we want to revel in the privileges and forget the responsibilities- it is important to recognize both!
In fact, I believe that the purposes of the church can be personalized as God’s five goals for every Christian believer and these goals express what God wants each of us to do with our lives while on earth! What are the 5 goals God has for YOU in your personal walk with Him?
1. God wants you to be a member of his family. This is the purpose of relationship and membership in God’s family. The Bible is very clear that following Christ is not just a matter of believing- it also includes belonging. The Christian life is not a solo act. We are meant to live in relationship with each other.
1 Pet. 1.3- Living bible- “He has given us the privilege of being born again, so that we are now members of God’s own family.” God has given us the church as a spiritual family for our own benefit.