The church doesn't exist for Christians

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by ScottEmerson, Nov 29, 2003.

  1. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    Thoughts? (From Pastors.com)

    The church doesn't exist for Christians
    by James Draper

    The church doesn't exist for Christians; the church is designed for those who are not members.

    I recently made that comment and it drew quite a response. The context of the comment was within a discussion about discipleship. I said that Jesus is searching for true disciples in the evangelical church in America but is having difficulty finding many.

    Need evidence? Read the headlines: The evangelical church in America is losing ground when it comes to effecting change in our culture. Instead of a trend in our nation toward godliness, the trend is toward secularism devoid of anything godly. Western Christianity has retreated from the battle for the souls of men to the hollow pursuit of self-comfort.

    Yet, true disciples follow Christ into the fray.

    God's design for the church is not that it exists for my comfort or for the convenience of its members, but he instituted it as an equipping station to thrust us into the harvest for souls.

    The church at Ephesus was surrounded by false religions and egocentric philosophies. People were consumed by their sexual appetites and practiced "every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more" (Ephesians 4:19). Did the Apostle Paul tell the Ephesian Christians to get inside their building, close the door and lock out the evil that permeated their society? No, and in fact, he told them to walk worthy of their calling, obey God's commands, stay true to the divine strategy and be Christians right where they were.

    We must first realize that the church is a divine institution. It was not an afterthought with God.

    We are the strategy God designed to confront the godlessness of our culture. When Christ says we were the light on a hill, he meant that we are to shine in such a way that those struggling with the turbulence of life could safely navigate to the harbor of God's grace. When the light from our churches sweeps across our culture, people see our good works and give glory to God in heaven (Matthew 5:16). It's an intentional effort on our part to understand that church is not about us; it is about God, his Kingdom and making his name known among the nations (Psalm 46:10).

    However, we become ineffective when we turn inward and our culture has no visible measure of eternal truth. There is no incarnational witness of the Savior. We rob hope from individuals who are on a collision course with eternal separation from God when we focus our energy on ourselves.

    As we project the Gospel outward from our churches, we must follow the leadership of God. God does not overlook people's sin. He extends grace and forgiveness in spite of it. We must be accepting of individuals without condoning their lifestyles.

    I like the chorus of the song, "This Must Be the Place," co-written and sung by Steve Amerson. "This must be a place where a broken heart can mend/This must be a place where the outcast finds a friend/For we cannot lift the fallen if our hand still holds a stone/And their sin that seems so great to us is no greater than our own/There must be a point where shame meets grace/And this must be the place."

    Is your church that place?
     
  2. Deacon

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    The Church exists to perform a mission: To make disciples and bring them into a learning and loving relationship with the Lord Jesus Chirst.

    It is in existance to heal the hurts of it's members, to grow them and to reach out to the lost.

    Rob
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    I read this article yesterday. I think it is a little simplistic and I think it misses the bigger point. Most of what he says is true, about hurting and helping, about the church needing to focus on others and ministering to them by bringing them into the body of Christ (the church).

    But the reality is that the church does not exist for non-Christians. The church does not exist without Christians. It is not some abstract entity. It is a concrete reality, made up of Christians. To say that the church doesn't exist for Christians is to teach something about the church that is not true. The church must reach out, but ultimately its purpose is to encourage, worship, teach, and fellowship together. For example, note how many of Warren's 5 purposes address the church. Four of them do. Therefeore, Warren (whose outfit published this article), seems to disagree with the premise of this article. The church does exist for the church. Its mission is to grow itself by conversion and discipleship.

    His statement, God's design for the church is not that it exists for my comfort or for the convenience of its members, but he instituted it as an equipping station to thrust us into the harvest for souls is only partially true and in fact, contradicts what he said. If part of the church's mission is to reach out to hurting people in the harvest of souls--to "those struggling in the turbulence of life"--then in fact, it most exist as a comfort for its people.

    I do agree that far too many Christians need to get outside to comfort zone and ministers to others. But to say that the church is not a comfort place for Christians simply is not true. It is in the church that Christians should find their greatest comfort and greatest encouragement.

    This is a prime case of trying to make a good point by presenting a false alternative. He should have said the one without saying the other. This is not an either/or situation. It should not be treated as one. Thought-provoking article with some good stuff. However it is simplistic and misses the mark by teaching something false about the church. As I say, he should have made his good point without using his bad point.
     
  4. Artimaeus

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    I agree with this statement. I don't think he was trying to say that there is no comfort in the church for Christians or that there shouldn't be any convenience. I think he was just saying that this is not its primary purpose. It seems to be a matter of getting our priorities straight. Prepare for battle, go out to batle, capture enemy soldiers, have them join our side, comeback to the base station and regroup and get more training. It is really two sides of one coin but sometimes we need to be reminded that, in the end, the main purpose is to capture enemy soldiers. The church is the means to accomplish that goal.
     
  5. Helen

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    Son of a gun! I didn't know the church was a social institution or a training ground for social work or a boot camp! I honestly thought it was a place where those who are already followers of Christ could gather once a week to pray together, worship together, fellowship together and hear God's word read and talked about.

    What a mistake!

    All along I thought it was the mercy and kindness of God that won people to repentance, and that our lives were to show that. I thought the Holy Spirit was the one who converted people!
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Amen, Helen. Guess I've been mistaken all these years too!

    Glad we found out! :rolleyes:
     
  7. David Mark

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    If I would focus on that, I could help some in the church grow stronger and more unified in faith.

    Nevertheless, I think the enemy uses similar tactics on groups of believers that he uses on individual believers. Just assembling together for the sake of saying we met is not good enough. It takes more effort.

    I think all of the instructions to individuals regarding what God requires to please him, should apply to groups of believers that meet together.

    Dave
     
  8. Jim1999

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    I think we differentiate between the New Testament Church, which was for the believers; teaching, training, worship, and evangelization was done two by two on the streets.

    The modern church has a dual role; that of worship, teaching, edification, and the other venue of evangelization. We must find the proper balance in a modern society.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. ChurchBoy

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    You are confusing "the Church", which is the Body of Christ, with the building were believers meet to worship God as a corporate body. God commands us to go out into the world to preach the Gospel. People are supposed to see Jesus through us. Someone at my job once told me that people are watching. They watch how I, as a follower of Christ, react to crisis and turmoil in my life and how I handle life situations. This is the time when God will open opportunities for us to witness and share the Gospel. We are the "church", not the building. If they don't see us as the "salt and the light" of the Earth why should any non-believer want to come to our church building to find out more about Jesus?
     
  10. gb93433

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    John said, "I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth."

    If the purpose of the church is to build the weak and encourage them until they are ready then the job being done is typically poor. The question is when will they know enough and when will they be ready.

    Seldom have I seen any exception where I can take a new believer and within a two year period the person begins to share theur faith and help others grow. I have done this with children and adults as old as 65.

    Just ask yourself, "How long did the new Christians in the NT take tio share their new found faith in Christ?"

    The military does not wait until a person is in shape to train them. They train them while they are getting in shape. They run them through simulated training exercises before the real thing comes. But eventually they are prepared when the real thing does come.

    I take new believers visting right away and show them how to share their faith. I teach them how to share their testimony. I teach them how to pray by praying for them and with them. And then eventually they begin to pray for others. I do Bible study with them. I have loads of fun with them. I develop a friendship for them. I pray with them and for them.

    However the first thing I do is to ask God for men and women of like hearts. All of them have one thing in common. They want to grow. All of them need different kinds and amounts of nurturing. My goal is to get them to the point where everyone of them can disciple another person. Everyone is dfiferent. But God gives every Christian the task of reaching others.

    Most people get married and have children. Those who can't have children is a very small number. But too often we are content to have only a few in our churches who can reproduce themselves in the spiritual realm.

    If Henry Ford were living today would he rather have one good running Ford or 1000 in the junk yard?


    You know, I have never seen Christians who were winning people and discipling them ever not be excited. When we pray for people and invest our lives in them that is the greatest joy we can have especially when they begin to do the same thing.
     
  11. Ben W

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    The church should be in some way like a House of Love, Grace and Mercy.

    Yet to many people the church is a place where they have been abused or had judgement placed upon them. Often it is more like an institution that is all about negative views and full of politics both with the countries government and the politics within its own organisation.

    Sure the people in the church should be out in the community living right and encouraging others to know Jesus. Yet often the only time the church is ever seen is when right winger christians want to preach their political views. Which often are not representative of what the whole church thinks anyway. Yet interestingly the churches that are the most dogmatic about defending what they do politically are those that are not getting many, if anyone saved.
     
  12. Artimaeus

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    I think I am missing something. (scratching my head and looking puzzled) Helen and Dr. Bob's reaction didn't seem to fit the posts. So, I am guessing I am out in left field and perhaps even out of the ballpark. What is the main point of discussion here?
     
  13. Ray Berrian

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    I thought the church was a retreat from the world system, a place where Christians gathered to understand who God is and how we must respond to Him as believers. By reading the written Word we come to know who is the Living Word. The church is to be a little Heaven on earth.
     
  14. David Mark

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    Considering the title of the thread: "The Church doesn't exist for Christians". The title doesn't seem to match the heart of the post. The title by itself makes me angry, but the heart of the post constrained me.

    Dave.
     
  15. I Am Blessed 24

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    Without Christians, no churches would exist. :confused:
     
  16. ScottEmerson

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    I think the problem is that he wrote "my comfort" not "their comfort" Thus, there is no contradiction. Once their spiritual needs are met and they follow after Christ, the church is not going to be about making them comfortable. We should strive to provide comfort and open arms to those who are lost.
     
  17. Helen

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    I have been reading Ephesians this morning and came across this passage:

    It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

    Then we will not longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching...

    Eph. 4:11-14a

    And I remembered this thread and thought this passage might have something to say about the subject.
     
  18. massdak

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    doesn't the church exist because of and for Christ sake? it is the Lords church and He is the foundation. i do not believe the church is a liberal calling for poor infidels social recreation. The gospel call will bring Gods elect into the Church.
     
  19. Helen

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    Actually, I can see both sides of this question. While I truly believe church services should be for the Christians and not a weekly repetition of milk and altar calls, and while I do appreciate the in depth Bible studies through the week that are for members of the church, I can also remember "love thy neighbor as thyself." Is this only for a personal relationship with neighbors? I think it is primarily that, for 'love' denotes a personal relationship of caring one by one. Nevertheless, things such as teen outreaches and camps and retreats for various ages and groups can be very good ways of sharing both the Gospel and a different way of living and looking at things. Sometimes people need that, I think. I have heard many stories of young people becoming serious about faith in Christ at camps and retreats.

    I guess that's my way of saying that while I don't think church or Bible studies should be 'entertainment', I do think there is a place for outreach ministries.

    For instance, my son's church (no, he's not a minister, where he GOES to church...) has a Thanksgiving dinner for the community each year, among other things. It is sponsored by the young professionals and cooked by them. Then they sit down with the people who come and talk to them, about each other, about life in general, about why Christians do this, about Christ Himself. For that reason, this year and in the future, we will have our Thanksgiving dinner a separate day. Christmas day may well be the same way...I don't know what the family plans will be yet!

    But church itself, that's different. That should be us together.
     
  20. gb93433

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    I agree, but too often the world system is brought into the church under the guise of right and spiritual witrh little knowledge of what is right and spiritual.

    Church assemblies are kind of like manure though. When manure is piled up for awhile it stinks and kills the plants trying to grow underneath. But when it is spread out it is useful and helps to produce a bigger productive crop.

    The scripture teaches that unless a seed dies it cannot produce a crop. So too the Christian must die to self. Too many churches are assemblies that never die to self but are about accomodating someone or some group that pays the bills. It must be about death to self so that Christ is greater and we are less. When we die to self there is room for others. Until that time there is only room for self.
     

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