In his book, Death on a Friday Afternoon, Richard John Neuhaus says:
“…the Church does not have a mission. The Church is the mission of Christ, who continues to seek and to save the lost who do not know their story. Their story is Christ, the way, the truth, and the life of all. The Church does have many programs and projects, some of which she shares with other institutions and communities. But the proclamation of God’s love in Christ is the most important thing the Church does, because it is what she does uniquely. If the Church did not do this, nobody would. She does this simply because she is the Church and this is what the Church does. She does this because she lives and breathes and is sustained in being by God’s love in Christ, and love is either shared or lost.”
As a pastor, I am involved in lots of conversations about the Church and her purpose. Often, those conversations center around programs we offer, or ways to do better, more efficient ministry in a particular area. I believe those conversations are very important to have. Yet, at the same time I am learning, as Neuhaus says, “the proclamation of God’s love in Christ is the most important thing the Church does, because it is what she does uniquely.”
Truth be told, we could run efficient ministry [which we should], create entertaining and engaging programs [which are helpful]…but if we do not love, then what we are doing may be religious, but it isn’t unique.
It isn’t why we are here.
It doesn’t fulfill our purpose.
The Church is called to be a representative of God’s love in Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5v14, Paul writes:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
We are compelled to be an example of Jesus’ sacrificial love for the world.
That’s the Church.
And that’s my prayer for us.