In another thread there is an ongoing sidebar discussion about the seeker-sensitive movement. quantumfaith made the following statement: quantumfaith is stating, by his use of the word essence, that his church exists primarily for the unchurched, not Christians. The word "unchurched" really means unbelievers. It is like using the term "undocumented workers" to describe illegal aliens. quantum's statement is an important window into understanding the difference in opinion about what the Church is and how it is supposed to function. On the one hand we have churches like quantum's. They believe their main purpose is to reach the lost. In order to reach the lost they embrace varied forms of contextualization, both in worship and outreach. On the other hand there are churches that believe their main purpose is to worship God and care for the saints. Which view is correct? The New Testament word for "church" is the Greek word "ekklessia". It means a "called out assembly or gathering." We know that unbelievers are not called out, rather it is the elect that are called out. Therefore it is fairly easy to determine that the Church consists of believers and only believers. There are impostors within local churches, but that does not mitigate the fact that the true Church (commonly referred to as the "invisible church") consists only of believers. This distinction is not lost on the modern church growth movement, which often includes those churches that are termed "seeker sensitive". This is why a number of churches have dropped the word "church" from their name. If you do not call yourself a church then it is much easier to become a chameleon and adopt methodologies that reflect society. By now I have probably been misunderstood by at least a few of you. I am not suggesting that evangelism is not a function of the Church. It is. But the main purpose of the Church is not evangelism. There is a subtle but important difference in those words. The following exchange took place between our Lord and the Apostle Peter: John 22:15-17 15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Our Lord's main concern was not for the lost, but for His sheep. Again, I am not suggesting that Jesus had no concern for the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom; it is just that He was tasking Peter to be an under-shepherd of His sheep -- believers. This is the primary responsibility for pastors and elders -- to care for Christ's sheep. In the executing of Christ's charge, Peter handed this instruction down to other under-shepherds: 1 Peter 5:1-3 1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. The Apostle Paul also understood that the focus of the Church, apart from the worship of God, was the care of the saints: Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Of course, a healthy church will not only worship in truth and care for the saints, it will also evangelize through the preaching of the Gospel (euangellion = good news). A healthy church will have members who are praying for "divine appointments" to share their faith. Visiting nursing homes, volunteering at rescue missions, caring for neighbors, offering a course of English as a second language; all of these are ways to engage with society and show the love of Christ. But these things do not subtract from the fact that the Church is an assembly of believers.