THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH

If a church is not growing it may not have the right vision. Today, there may be more churches losing members than gaining new converts. The Bible says that in the later days there will be a falling away of the saints. We read in the Bible that people can be religious and lost. In the last days, people will only love themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God. We are seeing the beginning of a massive rebellion against God. We are seeing it in our schools, our government and society in general. We are seeing it in churches where people are abandoning God or giving up one’s faith.

2 Thessalonians 2:1 – 3 – “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,”

Matthew 24:9 – 12 – “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.”

The purpose of the church is to worship God, partake of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to help each other and to evangelize the world. Due to my career and many transfers I have been a member of eleven churches. In most, the membership is less today than a few years ago. However, our family has belonged, over 30 years, to a church that has grown from 470 to over 70,000, which includes churches and satellites we have started, on special weekends.

However, traditional churches are struggling to maintain their growth, while evangelic churches are growing. It makes a difference as to who the church is targeting. Some traditional churches are preaching to those who have been Christians for years. They use terminology that is not meaningful to those visiting. To young people and many visitors, the music and messages are boring and not fulfilling.

Our membership growth did not actually happen until we changed our vision to making a difference in our community and beyond. Many of our senior members disliked the more fast paced music and sermons that were meaningful to unchurched visitors and younger adults. We believed that we had to change our services to the culture within which we lived. Many churches were losing young people and we believed God wanted us to concentrate more on what it would take to change their lives.

There are more than 30% of American adults, 30 years old and younger, that have no religious affiliation. This trend started in the early 1990s. We wanted to change our approach to bring the gospel message to this group as well. In Las Vegas, there may be a higher number of unchurched adults than elsewhere. It appeared some churches were losing their passion for the ministry. Their traditions were not meaningful to these unchurched folks. We had to ask the question: “Were we being affective?” Were there too many rituals and ceremonies? We had to address the culture of our metro area. It seemed we needed to develop more modern means of reaching those who were not going to any church and were unaware that they needed to find Christ.

We believe God called our church to spread the gospel as stated in Mark 16:15 & 16 – “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

That required a drastic change. We were preaching to the choir, those who had been Christians most of their lives. When we accepted our call to reach out to the community, we saw an immediate and rapid growth in attendance. In fact, it was just a matter of time and our facilities were not adequate to support the number attending. Yes, it required millions to relocate and build to provide for the growth. However, we believe it was God’s will that we changed our purpose for the church.

The church has a specific purpose. We are told to reach out to all creation. However, a major problem is that people detest change. They are mostly unwilling to change for those who are not even Christians. Had we continued to be a true traditional church preaching doctrinal sermons and our Sunday service traditions, we may still be that small church of less than 500. Thank the Lord that we received a new vision that helped more than 50,000 receive salvation and have a changed life.

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