Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together ... Hebrews 10:25
I suspect that if I asked 100 Christians, even mature, Bible reading, daily praying Christians, what the church is supposed to do, I would get 100 unique answers. While much has been written about the church becoming just one more consumer product or service, the question goes deeper than that.
There can be little doubt that many Christians are shopping for the "church that will fill my needs." Pews or chairs need to be padded, greeters friendly, parking adequate and music to fit my taste. Sermons need to be outstanding, but not too long, and leave me feeling like I got my tithe's worth. Nursery needs to be cute, run professionally, safe, and the teachers not too tough on my kid.
If the church I'm attending isn't meeting those needs, there is another church close by. As long as the doctrine is pretty close, meaning the folks in the service worship like I'm used to, I'll go where my worldly needs are met. I'll stop now before I move from critical to cynical, assuming I haven't already crossed that line.
If we look at the first church, Jesus and the 12, and then the churches in Acts, there seems to be a few things we can glean about what a church is supposed to do:
- Make disciples - by this I mean a serious effort to work with individuals to grow them spiritually into mature believers who are then discipling others.
- Send out missionaries
- Share the good news
- Make sure the widows and orphans are fed among the believers
- Meet more often that an hour on Sunday
- Have real fellowship. I think there was intimacy among the members
- Be an example of Christ in the community
- Expect there to be a high cost in money, time, even flesh.
- The more mature holding the less mature to account
- The entire body holding each member to account