Why Ignoring the Purpose of the Church Might be one of the Causes of So Many Issues Plaguing Our Communities
My heart breaks daily when I hear of issues of drug and sexual abuse, poverty, depression, and more. I don’t know if anyone can hear the stories of addiction, overdose, rape, and suicide without feeling a little sympathetic towards the hurt that is surrounding us.
Perhaps we have been oversaturated with the stories that we have become numb to the details and our empathy has turned to apathy. However, whether we have compassion or not, the issues still remain and people are still struggling.
The first question any believer should have is, “Where is the Church?”
Many people begin to ask, “Where is God?” That is a troubling question because as people who claim faith should know, He is already there. He is watching. He is hurting. He is waiting for His people to rise up and take action.
You see, God is brokenhearted over the brokenness of the world. I believe the underlying question within the question of “Where is God?” is actually, “Where are His people?”
God’s people should be at the forefront of caring for those who are afflicted with hurt and addiction. We should be fighting the battle alongside of them, but we flee. We wait for the specialists to get in the mix. We wait for a mission or para-church group to step in. We throw our money at other groups asking them to do what we choose not to.
This is hard. I am convicted myself.
Let me be clear, I’m not talking about overseas missions because we should be sending money to assist with work by the Church in foreign lands. Yet, just as important, I am speaking of local service.
We can go to a church Sunday morning or sit in a small group during the week, but just outside are people lost and hurting crying out in pain, waiting for God to show up.
In a 2010 report, there were an estimated 314,000-328,000 Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic). It is impossible to believe that any of those churches are located in a place where no pain is occurring. If so, then why would we need the Church there? It would be irresponsible of me to claim that none of those churches are doing anything to serve the needs of the broken, but it would be ignorant of me to say that all of them are.
The reality is, the majority of people who claim Christ have become complacent with the status quo of church and ignore the call to be the Church. They have ignored the primary purpose of God’s house to be a place of prayer, but also a place of action. Christ came into the temple to flip over the tables and disrupt a system which was hurting people and making a mockery of God’s purpose. He declared, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robbers’ den” (Matthew 21:12-13;NASB).
Followers of Christ come into the church to get what they need, then go off feeling filled up and ready to go through their week empowered by God.
Perhaps, God is calling His people to be filled up to be empowered in order to help others get through their week with the love of Jesus?
There are people who are longing for the people of God to do what God has called them to do.
We often consider the purpose of the church to be everything inside the location of worship. The different ministries we put our resources towards include youth, praise team or choir, sound system, and maybe a ministry that serves a select group of individuals (i.e. canned food or bus ministry), but very rarely are there ministries focused on aiding the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked (unless it’s Christmas), or helping free people from bondage of addiction.
The Church was created to be more than a building in which people come to experience a nice feeling for an hour or two one day a week. It is a mission, not a place.
The Church is meant to be present in the broken. The Church is meant to be salt to the earth and light in the darkness (Matthew 5), but we have allowed for the house of God (people) to become dilapidated and unused.
I wonder,if the Church were to come back to the purpose of being created, maybe we would see a shift in our communities from being consumed by struggle, to being consumed by hope?
Could the Church be the source healing for many. We have to acknowledge the fact that not everyone will be changed, but they will be influenced. The active Church will influence the atmosphere of a community. It will influence the attitudes of people. It will infiltrate the darkness and shine light all around, which will make the darkness hide.
When the Church begins to focus on their purpose, the potential for societal change is great!
May we see our purpose beyond the walls. May we bring hope to dying people and reveal to them a message of healing, redemption, and purpose through our Savior, Jesus Christ.