The Mission and Objectives of the Church

Lesson 1997?
Tags: Church; Mission
Excerpted from An Introduction to Local Church Ministry

Why does the church exist, and why does it do what it does? The New Testament teaches that the primary mission of every Christian—and, therefore, that of the local church—is to bring glory to God (1 Cor 10.31). Saucy explains:

“The church’s final goal in all of its responsibilities, whether to the world or itself, is the ascription of glory to the one who has created it through redemption in Christ. . . . So amazing is the display of God’s attributes in creating the church and bestowing upon it all blessings in Christ Jesus that the apostle [Paul] exults in a doxology of praise: ‘to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen’ (Eph 3:21).” Saucy, Robert L. The Church in God’s Program. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972, p. 97.

Some might claim that the church’s overarching purpose is to spread the gospel. However, this notion is somewhat misconstrued, as evangelism is one of three objectives which are subservient to the overall mission of glorifying God. To be sure, evangelism is extremely important, but it is one of several functions of the church which derive their importance precisely from the fact that they bring glory to God.

God has created the church to be the spiritual entity through which his purpose for the present age is accomplished, demonstrating to the powers of darkness the depth and diversity of his own wisdom.

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; . . . to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph 3.8, 10-11).

By design, then, the very existence of the church emphasizes certain of God’s attributes, particularly his grace and wisdom.

“God’s forbearance in the face of human sin and His provision of salvation in all ages have been by the grace of God. The full manifestation of this grace, however, awaited the church age. For not until God’s final and complete revelation in the person of His Son was rejected could grace be seen in all of its glory. . . .

“The church is also the display of God’s wisdom in bringing Jew and Gentile together in one body in Christ. . . . Angelic beings had seen the wisdom of God displayed in the creation of the material universe, but God’s work in the church is the masterpiece by which He instructs the inhabitants of the heavenlies concerning His incomprehensible wisdom.” Saucy, Robert L. The Church in God’s Program. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972, pp. 90-91.

As stated above, the church’s mission of glorifying God is supported by three subordinate objectives, centered around the entities to which the church must relate—God, itself, and society. To these objectives we will now shift our attention.