I found a book the other day called How Church Can Change Your Life: Answers to the ten most common questions about the church, by Josh Moody. It is a short, 10 chapter, book, that has very practical questions about the church. I want to take on His questions and give my answer to them. If you want to know what Josh said check out his book.
The first question he raises is for whom the church is designed–Is it for Christians only?
William Temple–former Archbishop of Canterbury, theologian, and scholar–once said:
“The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.”
This is so true! The foundational principal on which the church is built is the truth about the Gospel of Jesus.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” […] “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew 16:15-16, 18
When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, we are saying that we believe that what He did matters for us today. We are saying that what He taught matters for today. And we are saying that what He started matters for today.
Jesus is the founder of the Church. In fact Paul says in Colossians 1:18 that “he is the head of the body, the church.” This means that the church’s mission should be Jesus’ mission. Jesus shared his mission with us in Luke 19:10 where He says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” If Jesus was here to seek and save the lost, then that is what the church should be about (seeking those who are lost–far from God). This includes those who are Christians who have wandered away as well as those who have never found God in the first place.
When Jesus was preparing to leave this world and return to heaven He gave this directive at the end of Matthew:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Then again he says in Acts 1:8,
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
With these verses in our minds, it is easy to see that the church is designed to be a place where believers are reaching out to non-believers. Now, the question that we must ask is this, “Is the church accomplishing its task?” This is the million dollar question.
Many churches have planned and programmed for those who are already members. While this is part of where the church’s responsibility lies, if it is the only thing the church is doing, then she is failing. The church always has to balance the line between reaching AND growing disciples. Some churches do one well and not the other–some churches are failing at both!
If we want to be the Church that Jesus wants, then we must become the church that the lost want to attend and where the believers are growing deep.
The church is not just for Christians. Let’s remember that this week when we see new faces at church. Be friendly, welcoming, and helpful. Also, think about inviting someone to come to church with you–they may just say yes!