The Purpose Driven Church


Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:18-19


And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.




            The era within which we live has become the era of self-help books.  Virtually anyone with a computer, a particular philosophy and a little ability to write seems to have presented the world with their own version of what is needed to cure some, many or all of the ills of mankind.

            The religious realm is not exempt from this phenomenon, in fact we could probably find as many or more books of this nature related to the religions of man and man’s spiritual wellbeing as we can on any other subject.

            One of these books, published in October, 2002 was written by a man by the name of Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of the Saddleback Church, a whatever you want it to be community “church” in Forest City, CA.  It was published under the Landmark label by Zondervan, a noted publisher of Bibles and related religious materials based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  This book has struck a cord with many people and to date has sold over 25 million copies, it called The Purpose Driven Life, What On Earth Am I Here For?

            First of all I do not recommend Mr. Warren’s book.  Everything that it proposes to provide to mankind has already been provided by God’s Word.  It claims to be Bible centered but is perverted throughout by man-made doctrines.  What it presents as quotations of scripture are taken from something called The Message Bible, advertised as a contemporary paraphrase written by a man named Eugene Peterson.  Any resemblance to the real Bible is purely coincidental.

            Secondly, it is not my intent to discuss “What on earth am I here for?” but rather The Purpose Driven Church, “What is the church here for?  What is the purpose of this blood bought institution established by God himself that we have been added to (Acts 2:47).  In the scripture reading just completed a few moments ago Jesus said the he would build His church. 


Matthew 16:18 ““And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”


We know that church was established and when it began because of what we read in Acts chapter two.  The Apostle Peter, as Jesus had promised, presented the people at Jerusalem with the first gospel sermon ever preached.  But to what purpose; why does the church exist?  Well, Peter preached Jesus Christ so that men could be saved:


And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21


            Jesus Christ, who promised to build his church is both its Lord and Christ, its ruler, its saviour, the word Christ means “God’s Anointed”; Christ in the Greek, Messiah in Hebrew.


Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36


These people that were being saved from their sins, that were becomingchildren of God through their obedience to the apostles’ instructions were then collected by God into the church or “called out” and we’re told that they continued:


Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:47  


            So the church was established by God on the day of the Pentecost feast after the ascension of Jesus at Jerusalem.  It was created to contain the saved and God added those that were being saved.  It contains those that were being “called out” of the world into a life of righteousness.  In the language that Luke was using to write we find the church described by the Greek word ekklesia, which means an assembly of a particular group of citizens.  A word that has been translated church in English.  In this case it is an assembly or group of citizens of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

So what is its purpose?  What works should it be doing?  Is it just a group of people without function or duty?  Hardly!


What The Purpose of the Church Is Not!


            First of all let us consider what the purpose of the church is not.  Of necessity we will not be able to appeal to scripture for what the church is not because the New Testament is silent on these matters.  A silence that man must honor or be contrary to the will of God; but that as we show in the lesson “Respect For The Silence of God.”.

It is not in to be in secular business.  The church does not own or operate nor do we have anything in scripture that authorizes it to own or operate a secular business, day care center, college, elementary school, book publishing house or any thing of that nature.  Individual members of the Lord’s body, outside of that body, can band together to do these things and have the freedom to do so.  But nowhere in any part of the New Testament or first century history do we have authority from God, Jesus Christ or his appointed spokesmen for His church to conduct such businesses.

The church is not a humanly originated organization.  It is not to be made part of an organization originated by men.  It is not to have organizations of human origin as part of its work or purpose.  God hasn’t authorized, nor will he authorize anything of this nature to His called out people.  It has no authority to create a separate organization governed by men for the purpose of sending out missionaries to preach and teach God’s Word.  The creation of missionary societies, governing bodies, and organizations of this nature are the invention of men used to usurp the responsibility of the church to evangelize the world, but more about that later.  This is one of the problems that generated apostasy or rebellion against God and  the division of the Lord’s church into the various Christian Church denominations in this country in the 1800’s.

It does not have God-given authority to create an organization, such as the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief, governed by men, usurping the responsibility of the church to perform the benevolent work given by God to his “called out.”  Have men attempted to duplicate in some ways the work of the religious denomination called the Salvation Army?  It would almost appear that they have.

Where in scripture is the church authorized to finance, provide or otherwise make available recreation facilities or entertainment for its members?  Yet, when we travel between Shreveport, LA and Rolla, MO where my father is in a nursing home we pass church buildings with recreation centers, gymnasiums; that are as large, or larger, than the auditorium in which they meet to worship God.  When you read the weekly bulletin of one of the congregations we attended in Michigan about the only thing you will see most weeks is the sick list, all the social activities, fund raisers for their teen activities and other items of this nature that they are conducting.  Recreation and entertainment are the responsibility of the home, not the local congregation of God’s called out.  At the same time God’s Word is not silent about the members of the local congregation gathering for fellowship, or a fellowship meal; so don’t go telling folks that Bro. Schwegler said we couldn’t have fellowship together.  That is not true.

Where in scripture is it the responsibility of the church to provide secular education?  Yet many congregations are involved in supporting elementary, high schools and colleges directly from their weekly contributions.  God directed that responsibility to the family, long before the church ever existed:




The Apostle Paul, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not only confirms the wisdom of Solomon but gives the responsibility directly to fathers:


And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4


            So these things are not the work of the church, God’s called out.  If the purpose of the church is not many of the things our liberal and denominationally minded brethren are doing, then what is the purpose of the church?  I submit to you that there are three general works in which the God’s called out are to engage themselves.




Evangelism – (Webster) “the preaching or promulgation of the Gospel” of Jesus Christ


            God set the stage.  In modern terms God began and established the process that he wanted used to propagate, to spread, his revealed word.  First we find that a voice would be sent to proclaim the coming of the greatest blessing that would ever be known to mankind.  First the preaching of the prophet tells that there would be one come that would be:


The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3  This messenger was needed because God was coming.


That prophecy was fulfilled and the job to evangelize the Jewish nation and prepare them for the Messiah to follow was begun:


“…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Luke 3:2-4


And the Word of God was brought to the people by preaching, by evangelism as was God’s purpose:


In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:1-2


            When John’s mission was complete; when God’s purpose of having John prepare the way for the Son of God to follow after him was finished John the Baptizer was removed from the scene.  Now it was time for Jesus to begin his work.  And what work was that?  Evangelism!


Matthew 4:12-13Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:” v17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”


            When God’s time was right Jesus chose from among his followers a select group of disciples.  He prepared them for the work that needed to be done and sent them out to do what?  Evangelize God’s chosen people.


Matthew 10:1And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” v.5-7These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”


            Just as the personal ministry of John the Baptizer was to come to an end, the personal ministry of the Son of God needed to come to an end as well.  Jesus Christ had taught and prepared a people for the coming of the good news of redemption.  Jesus had prepared a group of men to carry forward his work.  Jesus had other work to do.  He was the sacrifice for our sins; shedding his blood so that you and I could have our sins removed from our souls.  Providing the means for our souls to be redeemed by God from that which would keep us eternally separated from Him; un-forgiven sin. 

First He gave his chosen disciples reassurance that they would be properly equipped for the work that was to continue:


These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:25-26


            Then he gave them and us his marching orders:


And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:18-19


And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15-16


            When God determined that the time was right; these disciples began to do the job that Jesus gave them to do.  The power, the Comforter came to them in Jerusalem where they waited as instructed (Acts 2:1-4).  They began to proclaim the good news of man’s redemption from sin to a world that was lost and dead in sin.  Men turned to God, became his children, became citizens of his kingdom, became members of the church that Jesus has promised to build (Matthew 16:18) “…AND THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH DAILY SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED.” (Acts 2:47)

            But their evangelistic work didn’t end there.  The work of the church to go to or evangelize the entire world had only begun.  Due to persecution in Jerusalem the gospel was preached in Samaria (Acts 8).  Jesus came to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) and appointed him as the Apostle to the Gentile people (Acts 9:15).  At the direction of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached this same gospel to Gentiles (Acts 10).  The church at Antioch was chosen to carry out God’s purpose so when directed by the Holy Spirit they separated Paul and Barnabas and sent them to evangelize the Gentile world (Acts 13:2).  The rest of the book of Acts chronicles this purpose of the church of Christ being carried out in various parts of the world.

            Yes the purpose of the church that Jesus built is to evangelize, preach and teach the word of God, the good news of redemption, the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  It was true in the first century and it is just as true today.


“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” I Corinthians 1:21




Edify: (Webster) to instruct or benefit, especially morally or spiritually; uplift, enlighten, to build, strengthen:


            When Jesus gave his chosen disciples their marching orders to evangelize the world he didn’t overlook the fact that those converted would need further instruction and assistance.  He continued his instructions to teach and baptize with:


Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20


This teaching, after sinners are converted, is part of the edification that is the purpose of the church. 

In addition to doing evangelistic work the new Christians in Jerusalem met daily in the temple and:


“…continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42


All these activities were designed to strengthen or build up the faith of these new disciples.  The essence of the definition just rendered.  So how was the church edified?

            They continued in the apostles’ doctrine or body of teaching, the doctrine or body of teaching that Jesus had given them.  But was it his?


Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:16-17


Their body of teaching; the doctrine with which they were to be instructed was God given.  At this point in the history of the church it was not written down so by necessity it was as directed by the Holy Spirit.  So they continued teaching God’s word.

            They continued in fellowship.  Briefly, what is fellowship?  How does scripture define fellowship?  One definition is communing and reasoning together.


And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” Luke 24:15


Jesus tells us through the pen of the beloved apostle that love and being one in mind and purpose are included:


A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34-35


In Jesus’ prayer:


John 17:11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. v.21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”


Also included in the work of edification is worship, the Jerusalem church also continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread, participating in the Lord’s Supper and prayer.  They worshipped together and Jesus tells us that God wants our worship:


“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” John 4:23




            Lastly we have the work of benevolence.  Benevolence – (Webster) desire to do good to others, goodwill, charity. 

The first century church was concerned about and worked at addressing the needs of others.  We find the root of benevolence in what Jesus tells us is the second greatest commandment:


And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31


            The Jerusalem church guided by the Holy Spirit and overseen by the apostles Jesus had appointed stands as our example.  We’re told that they:


…sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” Acts 2:45


They cared for their widows.  Acts 6 tells us they administered to them daily and when a dispute arose over those administrations they appointed men to make sure that these tasks were performed properly. 

The first century church gave of their means during their worship assembly.  We read of two purposes for which funds provided by the church were used.  One purpose was for support of missionaries.  Those who were preaching and teaching the gospel of Christ were supported at times.


II Corinthians 11:9And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.”


But the reason we read most about in scripture for giving of their means was for the work of benevolence:


Romans 15:25-26But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”


I Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”


They gave to provide the means to do good to others who had need.  So, to whom is our benevolence to be extended?


Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”


pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27


Please note that the word in the original Greek that is translated visit here does not mean just to stop by and chat for a while.  It means to understand their needs and provide what we have to help them.

            So what is the purpose driven church?  It is the church, the called out of God that accomplishes the purposes for which it was created as set forth by Almighty God.  It engages itself in evangelism to bring the good news of salvation to a lost and dying world.  It practices edification to encourage, build up, strengthen, and protect the spiritual well being of its members.  It practices benevolence, doing good to all men, but especially to those of like precious faith.  It is one that follows the pattern of work established during the first century when children of God were being directed by the Holy Spirit.  It honors commandments of God regarding its purpose and leaves the opinions, notions and organizations of men to those who are of the world.




We must believe – Mark 16:15-16, Hebrews 11:6

We must repent – Luke 13:3-5

We must confess our sins – Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37

We must be baptized for the remission of our sins – Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, John 3:1-3


If you have need of the prayers of the congregation because of special needs or sin, then come.  James 5:16