The Bible clearly reveals the purpose of the local church through precept as well as example in the New Testament. As members of the church, the body of Christ, we need to understand what God desires concerning the purpose and ministry of the church. To fail to understand this has led many local churches into programs and practices that are not in accordance with the Word of God. We find from the Bible four basic purposes for the church today.
Glorify Jesus Christ
Because we are bought with the blood of Christ, we cannot do with our bodies as we please. We must be sure that everything we do glorifies God. Paul told the Corinthian believers that every human activity must be accomplished to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Christian is not a law unto himself, for he is owned by another. This principle is also certainly true concerning activities that occur in the local church. As members of Christ’s body, all our activities within our congregation must be holy and glorifying to Christ. We glorify Him through evangelism, study of the Word, prayer, singing, fellowship with other believers, and observing the ordinances.
Evangelize the Lost
In Luke 24:46-49, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit so they could obtain the power necessary to preach repentance and remission of sins among all nations. The disciples, who would be filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, needed to understand that they were responsible for witnessing to others about Christ (Acts 1:8). The responsibility to preach the gospel to every person in the world belongs to the church (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20).
Instruct and Edify Believers
The role of the Pastor: In Acts 20:27-31, the apostle Paul told the Ephesian church leaders to “take heed…to all the flock…[and] feed the church of God.” Believers must be built up in the faith and instructed in the Word of God. The pastor must fulfill his God-given responsibility to watch, warn, and instruct his flock. Paul also told Timothy to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). This preaching to believers was to involve reproof, rebuke, and exhortation. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:5-17). Pastors must nourish God’s people. God has given us church leaders for a purpose, and that is to instruct and edify us according to the truth of God’s Word (Ephesians 4:11-15).
The role of every Member: While the pastor has a tremendous responsibility, all individuals in the church are responsible to edify one another as well. Fellow Christians are to build up one another through encouragement and by provoking “unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25). To the church in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification” (Romans 15:1-2).
Observe the Ordinances
Baptism: The ordinance of baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the believer’s identification with Him as a part of His body (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 2:41-42).
The Lord’s Supper: This ordinance is a memorial, a reminder to the believer, of Christ’s sustitutionary death on Calvary’s cross and a reminder of Christ’s imminent return for His church (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). Only true believers should partake of the Lord’s Supper.