Why does the Church exist? It’s not to get people together for meetings; or to keep our theology pure; or to defend our traditions; or to look cool and appealing to the unchurched. But it’s so easy to fall into one or more of those traps if we’re not constantly reminding ourselves why we exist.
As defined clearly by Jesus Himself in both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, the Church exists to love God and share His love with others as we make disciples of all nations. We’re not about meetings, denominations or ancient rituals – although all of those have had and will continue to have a place. We are primarily about relationships. It is our calling and our mandate to introduce people to Jesus, connect those people with each other, then equip them to help others to meet Jesus, too.
Through the call for us to make disciples Jesus created a self-perpetuating system to keep the Church alive, vibrant and adaptable. For over 2,000 years the Church Jesus birthed has been the most relentlessly growing, most adaptable, most life-changing, most liberating human organism in the history of the world.
Despite all the cries of alarm and concern, the Church is not in trouble. It’s not dying. Its best days are not behind us. The Church which Jesus promised to build is alive and well with far greater days are ahead than any we’ve seen before. However the man-made institution which claims to be the Church is in serious trouble. Some parts of it are spiritually dead already and just don’t have the decency to lie down!
When we are more committed to ‘doing’ Church than ‘being’ Church we should not be surprised when trouble sets in. We need to rediscover and re-commit ourselves to being the Church Jesus called us to be. If we refuse to do so, then while we’re off chasing other ideas, someone else will offer a knock-off version that feels better than what we’re currently doing. There’s always some version of ‘almost Church’ that’s ready to give people an ‘almost’ version of Jesus, wrapped up in a greater sense of community than many congregations have.
The Church doesn’t have a monopoly on friendship, mission or caring. We have a monopoly on only one thing – Jesus Christ – and He is not found in our institutions, He is found in the true Church; not in a building; not in a creed; not in a specific format and not alone. People loving Jesus and loving each other is how Jesus said the world would be won to Him. That’s the Church. That’s the Jesus way. That’s who we need to be.