What is the purpose of the church?
How do we fulfill God’s mission as his people?
These are both very great questions that I have been discovering and encountering over the last few years of studying at seminary. I would also add that ecclesiology (the study of the church) has become one of my favorite areas of theology to study over the last 2 years.
I enjoy this quote by Perry W.H. Shaw about God’s relationship to and for his sent people. “Throughout Scripture we see a clear movement of authority within the Godhead: the Father sends the Son, the Father and the Son send the Spirit, the Son sends us, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” Our acts of service, leadership, and public witness should reflect an upside-down system compared to the world around us because it is directed and sovereignly ruled by a loving, personal God. As Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). This means that we strive to embrace God’s call for our churches to be places where we serve one another as sisters and brothers in Christ and that we serve our community as good stewards and witnesses of God’s love. The church I serve in just did a service event that reached out to a local school by cleaning their exterior areas and also had some people visiting shut-ins from the church. Outreach and service can be done simultaneously when we make an intentional effort to do it.
The inside-out portion that I constantly have to remind myself is that the church is God’s people- not the building. While it is nice to have a building to meet in, God is more interested in the people who make up his church. Christ is not coming back for his bride to collect on a bunch of real estate; he is coming for his bride, the purified and glorified church, the people of God to have eternal relationships and redemption become a reality. Let us be devoted to becoming a daily living sacrifice that is wholly devoted, pleasing, and thankful to God for joining us to become a part of his salvation plan. A mentor of mine shared three ways to connect with God that are super important for us to continue to engage in as we desire to know and be known by God. Here they are: 1) continued study of the Bible; 2) prayerful living; and 3) singing praises to God daily. I am really loving engaging in these things and drawing closer to others as I draw close to God.
Remember you are his church whom he dearly loves!
Perry W.H. Shaw, “Vulnerable Authority: A Theological Approach to Leadership and Teamwork,” Christian Education Journal Series 3 Volume 3 No. 1(2006): 120.