HASTINGS to BATTLE
Walked to Battle today. An indulgence really, as I wanted to visit the English Heritage site.
Extract from Reflections Journal – Friday 25th August 2017
A few years ago at Bethel I suggested to the church an idea for how we might rethink how we structure our leadership responsibilities and at the same time introduce a way of understanding and monitoring what we actually do as church and how it relates to what we think we should be doing as church. We introduced the ‘6 Purposes of Church’ – Discipleship – Fellowship – Ministry – Outreach – Prayer – Worship. Under these 6 headings, and through the oversight of them by members of the leadership team, we hope to maintain all that we do as church. All activities and events can be seen to fit under one or more of these purposes and we can see where we are perhaps missing out on some activities and where something might not really be fit for purpose.
Since beginning my ministry training I have been interested in the different models that church fellowships adopt for the governance of their church and how they justify them. I have come across churches where the system seems to have been pulled straight from a corporate situation – perhaps influenced by the work experiences of one or more of the leadership team, and I have come across churches where there seems to be no model at all. And in between these two – all manner of different styles and approaches.
I guess what underpins my interest in this, and perhaps the fact that there are so many different approaches, is the search to understand what the real purpose of church should be and it seems to me that over time there have been two mainstream ideas about what church is for. The first might be referred to as ‘Outreach’ or perhaps ‘Evangelism’. In this idea the purpose of church is to share the Good News of Jesus with those who are not yet in the church. The second might be referred to as ‘Discipleship’ and in this idea the purpose of church is to grow the individual members of church in their personal discipleship and relationship with God. Clearly many churches exist attempting to practice both of these ideas, but are either of them, or both together, really what church is for?
As I reflect on this I currently conclude that whilst both of these elements; Evangelism and Discipleship are important and essential elements of church life, the real purpose of church is to glorify God. The church is God’s people drawn together to raise up praise and worship which glorifies God. This glorifying of God happens through the activities of the church; Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry, Outreach, Prayer, Worship. The success of our church isn’t measured by how many people turn up on Sunday, how many pastors we have, how many deacons, elders or other leaders we have, how many different activities, groups or projects we operate through the week, it is measured only by whether what we do is for the glory of God.