The Reason for Our Existence: Part 2
Have you ever found yourself shopping for a church online? Or have you ever happened to check out your own church’s website? Even churches that don’t have a website will usually have a bulletin, but somewhere, if you look hard enough, you’ll find a mission statement for nearly every congregation in the United States. These mission statements are outlines of what the church board or congregation has agreed to as being the sole purpose for their existence. Many mission statements are nearly identical. You’ll almost always find themes focusing on loving God, loving and helping people, soul winning, and worship. All of these are wonderful things, and should be included in the lifeblood of every Christian congregation and in the heart of every believer. Oddly enough, one could visit a dozen churches that have the words “loving people” in their mission statement and not be greeted a single time by a “loving” member of that church. I get the purpose for these mission statements; we’ve got to make ourselves relevant to the potential church goer, right?
An idea landed on me about 10 years ago that completely changed my life. It was such a wild & radical idea, but I absolutely knew by the Spirit of God that it was divine revelation, and I had no choice but to move on it… literally. I moved my family almost 700 miles away from home so that we could join and attend a church. Not to take a position, mind you, but merely to just be able to attend. I don’t know how many times I heard the question “what, you couldn’t find a good church any closer than that?” The problem was that we were in a “good church” by anyone’s standard, and we served there for 10 years. But, when I heard Holy Spirit ask me “which is more important, being part of a church that caters to you, or being part of a church that caters to Me?” I knew that our “good church” was no longer good for us. See, we all have believed the lie that we need to find a church that is relevant to our lives, when in actuality, we should be looking for a church that is relevant to the Kingdom of God. I know, I know… your church IS relevant to the kingdom of God. But, just for fun, let’s look at the church model that Jesus set into motion for the disciples & apostles to build on.
Jesus had the perfect plan. He did and said only what he saw and heard the Father do, so we can look at what Jesus established and know that it was the Father’s perfect will put into action.
The first thing that Jesus did was to teach. He simply taught His disciples about the kingdom of God. He taught them what was relevant to the Father, and the importance of denying themselves (eventually to His death and theirs) for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Biblically speaking, a church that is relevant to you is the religious system that Jesus came to take on and defeat. The Jews wanted their historical and traditional religion, but Jesus came with the bold declaration “I am the way” defying their tradition. Does your church teach you to deny yourself (preferences, doctrine, tradition, denomination) or does it fit comfortably into your life without disrupting who you traditionally are?
The second and third things that Jesus did, while continuing to teach, was to train and empower. As they were learning about the operation of the Kingdom, He pushed them into practical application of what they had been learning by having them heal the sick and cast out demons. They became responsible for enforcing the government of heaven by putting hands-on application to the education that they had received. Jesus prayed “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” This is the intent of the Father, spoken by the King of kings, in the hearing of the ones that He had been teaching and training. This was not something that was supposed to be unique to the original 12 disciples. It is a call for the Church to enforce the government of heaven while still on earth. Notice what Jesus did NOT teach the disciples: He didn’t teach them to set up soup kitchens, counsel the oppressed, or establish support groups for recovering whatevers. So, how does your church compare? Are you trained and empowered to enforce the government of heaven, or are you in a system of support groups and programs in the void of hell defying freedom?
The fourth and final step in Jesus’ program was the release. He released His disciples with the command “Go… make disciples.” Somewhere along the line, we’ve watered that down a bit to mean “go get people to repeat a prayer” but Jesus’ message was “Go, do with others what I’ve done with you.” His intent was that every believer learn, train, be empowered & released with the ability to teach, train, empower and release. If Jesus had a mission statement, this is what it would have said: Teach, train, empower, release.
This four step process, in a nutshell, is the reason for our -the church’s existence. It is wonderful to have great worship, a friendly greeting team, and community groups, but church, this cannot be our purpose. If we want to represent Jesus well, we must see that His plan is built on the continual cycle of teaching, training & empowering, and releasing. It is our responsibility, as His confessed body, to follow His lead. If we are not following in His steps, and relying on our own programs and systems, can we really call ourselves His body?