Once a person affiliates with a Christian congregation, one of the first important questions to ask is; What’s a Christian Congregation and What’s Its Purpose? Or, put more personally, Who are We and What’s Our Purpose? We continue our series on the Polity of a Christian Congregation with a brief overview of Christian Congregation Purpose.
It is clear from Scripture that God intends believers to do certain things, but what might they be and how can we simplify this for our discussion of the Church and Church polity? Contrary to popular corporate and hierarchical models, the organization of believers into a local congregation is not by the will of man but by the Word of God. Some years ago, Church growth programs encouraged congregations to hire outside consultants to lead them through a self-study and formulate, among other things, a mission statement. Yet Scripture leads us to conclude that the function or mission of the disciples of Christ remains the same as when delivered by the prophets and by Christ to His Church;
Consider the words of Christ to His disciples; “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the 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 commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)
And again, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Luke 1:8)
On the eve of the Resurrection, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, hiding in fear. Jesus appears to them saying, “Peace be with you; as My Father sent Me, so send I you. Receive the Holy Ghost; whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins you retain, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)
The mission or purpose of a Christian Congregation, is to be present in the world, wheresoever souls are, proclaiming and teaching the Gospel as witnesses of Christ, and to administer the Sacraments. Disciples of Christ are led by the Holy Spirit to gather into a Christian Congregation to glorify God and to offer their time and talents in support of and participating in making disciples for Christ and encouraging one another in faithful Christian faith and service.