5 Functions of a Faithful Church
On Sunday nights for the evening worship I have been preaching a series of sermons on the Church - what is the church? What is its purpose? What are we supposed to be doing as a church? It has been a helpful series for me personally as we look at what the Bible says is the Church of Jesus Christ. Sometimes asking the basic questions helps you to focus on the true meaning and purpose– this is definitely the case in this study. Christ loves His Church and gave Himself up her (Eph.5:25), therefore to love Christ is to be a part of and love what He loves. I hope this is increasingly true of you – and church attendance and participation would be a major part of your fall routine.
On Sunday Aug. 28th we had a “Back to Church” lunch meeting, Thankful to all that were there. During that meeting we looked at Acts 2– and asked the question– what did the church do after 3000 people were added on the day of Pentecost? What was the church engaged in? From Acts 2:42-47 we see that church was committed to five functions:
1) Teaching / Discipleship – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42)
The first function of the church was the teaching and preaching of the church. This was the command of the Lord in the Great Commission, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded” (Mt.28:20). In fact without teaching and preaching, the important task of discipleship cannot take place. It is through constant teaching and preaching and application of that Word that we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. It is how we bear a spiritual harvest (Mk. 4:20) and do the good works, which God prepared beforehand (Eph.2:10). We at Smyrna Presbyterian have several ways weekly that you can be engaged in the teaching and preaching ministry of the church. In addition to morning and evening worship there is Sunday school, men’s and women’s bible study, and Wednesday night teaching and activities for both adults and kids. There is no lack of good teaching that takes place here, and hopefully you are availing yourself of it. If not, come and be a part of it this fall.
2) Fellowship – They devoted themselves to….fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts. 2:42)
The second function of the church was fellowship. Fellowship is an important part of being a part of the Body of Christ. Just like there is relationship in a physical family so too in the church. As we learn and grow in the Lord we are not called to do it alone but rather with one another. This fellowship takes place through prayer times and spurring each other on towards greater love and good works (Heb.10:24). Again we have many opportunities for further fellowship here at the church – both in a more formal setting like a prayer group or bible study, or informally through our “Dinners for 8”, Mom’s Playgroup, or Wednesday Night Fellowship Dinner. All of these are designed for you to love, serve, and fellowship with one another so that the bonds of unity would be strengthened among us.
3) Service – They were distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts. 2:45)
The third function of the early church was service towards one another. In fact in Acts 2 they were selling their possession and belonging so that they could give. What generosity! As a church our service to one another comes in many forms – primarily in the area of time, talents, and money. Like the early church we are to give to the Lord our tithes and offerings and through that the church is able to function and minister effectively. We are thankful thus far to be above budget and pray that would only increase so that our ministry can increase. Likewise we serve one another through our acts of service and use of talents in the Body. This could be through taking a rotation in the nursery, taking a meal to someone in need, teaching a children’s Sunday school class, or volunteering on a service day. At the “Back to Church” there was a sheet with over 70 ways that you could serve the church beyond the giving of money. So what ways are you serving or could serve the church?
4) Worship – Day by Day, attending the temple together…praising God (Acts 2:46,47)
The fourth function is the most important calling of the church – worship. We exist to worship our Triune God. This hopefully happens daily in your home through private and family worships. But the Lord calls us together weekly on the Lord’s Day to worship Him as the corporate Body of Christ. There is no greater joy and privilege that to gather together in this setting, knowing that the Lord is there and he will bless us for coming. There is also no more important activity in your schedule or in the schedule of your family that being at church to worship God. If you are not regular in your attendance, begin there before anything else on this list. God commands us to come and we as the church need your participation (1 Cor. 12:12-26).
5) Outreach/Evangelism – having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day (Acts 2:47)
The fifth function is that of evangelism and outreach. We are not to be a self-serving church that only looks to the needs of one another. Rather just as Christ was sent for us, so too we are sent out in the world to live as followers of Jesus Christ by being a witness. This happen in your daily interaction with co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc. Through this outreach the Lord does his work of adding the increase to the Word planted. Who is it in your life that you are praying for and speaking to about salvation in Christ? Sometimes all is needed is a simple invitation to church for a Sunday service, or Wed. night fellowship dinner and bible study. Through being an outward-oriented the Lord will use us to build his Church and advance the Kingdom of God.
We at Smyrna Presbyterian cannot be everything to everyone (nor should we be). However these five functions of the early church are where we must focus our time, attention, and efforts. Would you join me in thinking about these five areas and how you can participate in making SPC the church God would desire us to be?