by: Gary L. Hutchens
It is impossible to fully believe in Christ without also believing in the church, since the church is His body (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18, 24). It is impossible to faithfully follow Christ without being a part of His church, because into the church is where He adds the saved (Acts 2:47). It is impossible to fully know the teachings of Christ without also knowing the teachings of His church (1 Tim. 3:15). And, it is impossible to be properly dedicated to Christ without being properly dedicated to His church, since the two, Christ and the church, are inseparable.
To truly understand the church, we must know what the church stands for. Obviously, that begins with knowing the doctrinal teachings of the church (Eph. 4:4-6). But it also includes knowing what the church is supposed to do, what its purpose is. It would be accurate to say that the main purpose of the church is to glorify God. That is certainly accomplished through worship, but also by effectively teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ on as widespread a basis as possible.
That teaching can be done in various ways. Bible classes and preaching are two primary methods of teaching that are used regularly (1 Cor. 1:21). But those methods are limited to people who come to the church building. How can we reach and teach those who do not darken the doors of the church building? It is God’s plan that the church teach His word throughout the world (Eph. 3:8-11).
Virtually everything we do as the church needs to have evangelism as its bottom-line goal. Benevolent work can open doors of opportunity to teach people about their need for salvation, along with their physical and material needs. Fellowship settings can be used to impress people with the love of the church and initiate discussion about their relationship with God.
More aggressive outreach ministries certainly need to be employed as well. Radio and television, jail ministry and Bible correspondence outreach all reach out to lost souls who do not typically come to the church building to be taught. Mass mailings can touch the hearts of individuals who are particularly receptive at a moment when some teaching material is placed in their mailbox. Social media has become another outreach tool that continues to be developed in specific ways.
Ultimately, most evangelistic efforts culminate in an individual Christian teaching an individual lost soul the gospel of Christ. That’s called personal evangelism. As Christians with that message of salvation, we need to look for souls who need to be taught. We all work with people who are lost. Virtually every one of us has family members who are lost. Most of our neighbors are lost. Many of our friends are lost. That’s simply the reality of the matter (Matt. 7:13-14). We need to reach out to those souls.
Christ came to this earth to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10), and He has given the carrying on of that mission to us, the church (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16). The heart of the work of the church is evangelism, reaching out to the lost with the saving message of Jesus Christ. Our focus, our direction, our work, our goals, our very thinking need to reflect that truth…
Gary L. Hutchens