What is the ministry of the Church? What is God’s intended purpose and function of the Church? Why is it vitally important the Church fulfills it’s God-ordained functions? Can it fulfill some functions and not others and still be effective? How does the church fulfill its ministry? Before we answer these questions, we must first answer, “What is the Church?”
What is the Church?
Today, when most people speak about “church” they refer to the physical brick and mortar building located at a physical address. They are talking about the building in which they attend worship services or have membership. However, when Christ talks about the Church, He is talking about His bride. Who is the bride of Christ? The people of God who have surrendered their lives to Him through faith and have accepted Him as the only means of forgiveness of sin. It is the people who call Him Lord and Savior. In other words, the Church is made up of Christ followers. It is the group of people all around the globe, joined together as one body of believers, who identify themselves as Christians.
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.‘” ( 2 Corinthians 6:16)
Becoming A Part of the Church
Ephesians 5:25 says that Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for it. I can promise you He did not endure the tortures of crucifixion for the sake of stone, brick, wood, steel, and mortar. He went to the cross for the sake of mankind. There is only one way to become part of the Church. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) There is no other way. It is only accepting by faith that Jesus is the only Son of God, that He died in your place to erase your sin debt, that he was buried for three days and then victoriously rose again. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Trying to say your salvation comes through any other way negates the need for Christ to die in your place. It changes the “gift of God” into “your own doing.” Faith in Christ’s finished and completed work on the cross is the only way to change your eternal destination from hell to heaven. Only the blood of Christ has the power to wash away your sins. The old hymn says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Why, then do we have buildings we call churches?
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. –Hebrews 10:23-25 (KJV)
The local brick and mortar locations of the church are designed because the Bible tells us to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” The physical location of the church building provides space for the local body of believers to assemble in worship and to carry out the functions of church ministry. The ministry of the church lies not within the building – but in the people of God.
With a clear understanding of what the Church is, we can then answer the questions regarding the ministry of the church.
- What is the ministry of the Church?
- What is God’s intended purpose and function of the Church?
- Why is it vitally important the Church fulfills it’s God-ordained functions?
- Can it fulfill some functions and not others and still be effective?
- How does the church fulfill its ministry?
What is the ministry of the Church?
God’s people are to be carrying out the work that Christ started: evangelizing the lost, building up and encouraging other Christians, teaching Biblical doctrine, offering sympathy and empathy to the sick, bereaved, and hurting, caring for widows and orphans, and being the light of Christ that shines in a world of darkness and sin. Essentially, a ministry is any activity that expresses the nature and character of Christ or spreads the good news of the gospel. Every Christian should be involved in the ministry of the church. Our mandate was not to warm the church pew. Instead we are to serve the body of Christ and we are to “go and tell.” The ministry of the church is not carried out by the minister (clergy/pastor/bishop/etc.). Every person who is saved and asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior should be an active minister for the gospel of Christ. The whole purpose for God giving us spiritual gifts is for us to carry out the ministry of the church that He has planned for each individual body of believers. Without each member doing their part, the church is not fulfilling its ministry as God intends.
God’s Intended purpose and function of the Church
The purpose of the church is to join people of different backgrounds and God-given gifts and provide them training and opportunities for God’s work. It accomplishes this both internally, within the body, and externally, in the world. If the Church is to see the fires of Revival sweep across our nation, the church must fulfill it’s God-ordained purpose through seven functions.
God intended and designed the Church to fulfill the following seven functions:
- Developing Faith and Engaging Members
- Missional Engagement
- Worship, Music, & Arts
- Congregational Care
- Invitation & Hospitality
- Administration & Support
In order for America to see an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and spiritual revival to spread across our nation, the Church needs to return it’s focus to these seven God-intended functions of the church and place less focus on programs. Programs can be great tools for achieving the purpose of the church, but the church cannot neglect the work of the Holy Spirit through the programs to achieve its purpose. Too often, we see a church that has exponential growth and then churches around the globe will begin to model their programs, expecting the same results without taking into consideration the spiritual needs, physical needs, cultural dynamics, spiritual maturity, ethnicity makeup, generational makeup, embedded traditions, and other factors that may or may not affect the results in their own congregations. God may have a completely different plan for the church that saw exponential growth than He does for your congregation, but even if God’s plan for your church aligns with the plan of the other church, His path for you to achieve His plan could look totally different. When we bank on programs to achieve God’s plan, we remove our focus from the power of God to work within our local Church and we tend to neglect the work of strategically searching God’s path for how to achieve His plan. We rob God’s people of the opportunities to serve through their God-given gifts. When we bank on programs to achieve God’s plan, we neglect to develop spiritual faith and spiritual maturity in our congregations because rather than seeing God at work, our congregations see programs at work — or they see programs that fail. When we bank on programs, our focus becomes about the numbers – not the souls God wants to add to His church or the spiritual development of the souls who are already members of the family of God. We see the extraordinary results of high numbers in membership growth and dollars and immediately try to transfer that to our congregations rather than focusing on God’s plan for our Church. Their success becomes (in our minds) the fast road to achieving what God wants to do in our Church without ever considering what work God had been doing in that church in the previous years that lead to their current success. We can become guilty of envying what God is doing in “that” church and want to see Him do the same in ours and instead of asking God how He wants to work in our church we adopt the programs and ministries of “that” church as our own then become frustrated when we don’t see the same results. The results we do see, however, is the neglected spiritual growth of the body of Christ within our own congregation.
If we are not careful, church programs can become much like the wide gate that Jesus warned about in Matthew 7:13-14.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The straight and narrow way is the path that God intends for your congregation of believers to achieve His work His way in the community He has planted His church. The broad way is the programs that we see successful in another church and adopt into our congregation, often without even consulting with God if that program is right for our congregation. It isn’t that that program is unbiblical, or wrong – but if God has not given the green light for your congregation to utilize that program than it is wrong for your congregation and it can quickly become the path that leads to destruction because God is not in that program in your congregation if He has another path for you to follow. Without God’s blessing, you will never see the results that they other church did and more than likely, your congregation will either not support the program or you will see a division where some support it and others do not — and that conflict leads down the path of destruction just as much as taking a path that isn’t marked with God’s blessing.
Revival doesn’t occur through programs but through the working of the Holy Spirit in each individual life that makes up the local congregation of believers. It’s time for the Church to stop promoting programs and to start promoting the God-intended mission of the church with the intended results of spreading an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit across our nation through one local body of believers at a time. As the church returns its focus to the God-intended mission of the church, America will see revival because the ministry of the church will develop faith, spiritual growth in the church leadership, the congregation, and throughout it’s community, and stir up the hearts of the people of God to humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways. Then – and only then – will God hear our cries of repentance and petitions for revival, forgive our sins, and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14)
To promote the mission of the church, each local congregation should first, have an understanding of what the God-intended ministry of the church is. They should then enter a time of prayerfully considering what God wants to do within their own congregation and community in each of the six functions of the church. Consider the following:
- Taking into consideration your congregation and community, what are areas of faith that needs developing? How can you engage the members into the mission of the church?
- What are ways to engage your members in mission projects locally, nationally and internationally?
- How do you engage them in worship through the music program? How do arts fit into your church and community? Are there members who could offer free piano or instrument lessons as an after school program? Can it start up a Christian book club? What talents has God given to those in your congregation and how can they use those talents to reach the community?
- What constitutes congregational care for your Church? If your church is primarily senior adults, that might look different than a Church who’s average age is younger. If your church is large, congregational care might look different than the small church. How congregational care is achieved can also look different, so how is it best achieved within your congregation?
- How can your church best invite people into your church? What does hospitality look like currently and where does it need to be improved?
- How would you rate your administration team and what does the administration hierarchy look like? What are the gifts and talents God has given to the administration team? Is it the right time to add to the administration team or does it need to downsize? Does it function as a team – or are there contentions and strife that are affecting the mission of the church? Where does the administration team lead and where does it support lay leaders and deacons? Does the administration team continually mentor and grow new leaders? Is it sending out leaders and starting new churches? Does it model Godly behaviors? Is the administration team available to members? Do the members see the administration team as approachable?
There are many other things to consider when determining God’s plan for the local Church to carry out the seven functions of the church. However, when the leadership team of the Church seeks out God’s plan and path, the way your Church fulfills these functions will probably never be identical to another Church. Why? Because God has an individualized plan just for your Church.
Our ministry team at Wellspring, will come along side your Church to strategically walk you through discovering God’s intended plan for your Church through the seven functions of church ministry. It is not our job to tell you God’s plan for your Church, but to come alongside you in the journey of discovering God’s Individualized Plan (GIP) for how He is already at work in your church and community and how He wants to accomplish His plan using the body of believers in your congregation to achieve His GIP.
Your Wellspring Representative will take your church through the five phases of discovering and implementing your GIP over a span of 47 weeks followed by periodical reviews and evaluations to determine your progress, re-evaluate goals, revise goals and plans as needed and to continue implementing your GIP so that your church’s focus is consistently centered around the six functions of church ministry.
Read more about the seven functions of church ministry:
- Developing Faith and Engaging Members
- Missions Engagement
- Worship, Music, & Arts
- Congregational Care
- Invitation & Hospitality
- Administration & Support