A minister once said that he sometimes had a dream of the Perfect Church:- The worship is perfect and the problems are non-existent.
He then went on to describe in humorous terms the personnel in this perfect church. Neil Down is the Director of Spirituality and Prayer; Dina Mite is in charge of the evangelistic programme: Sally Forth maintains the missionary interest; Benny Factor handles the money, while Barry Tone is the superb Director of Music, ably assisted by his associate Benny Dictus and a super band, The Magnifi-Cats. Interestingly, he didn’t come up with a name for the minister, perhaps I could suggest as in my case, Theobald Shepherd.
We may smile, but the church is every one of us. We may not, as the names, suggest, all fit into some kind of perfect model of what we think the church is meant to be about and what each one of us has to offer, but we are all in it together - that’s the point.
However, within the varied expressions of our shared life and ministry we are faced with the question, What on earth is the church for? It is not the first and nor will the last time that question will be posed. In answer to it each one of us may come up with a different response, and all of them may be right to a greater or lesser degree.
Perhaps our choice answers would reflect the amazing depth and variety of the church, and that’s a positive thing not a divisive one. From the very beginning that question has not gone away. The last words of Jesus, spoken to His gathered disciples, were ones which we have come to call the “Great Commission.” These words remind us that we are to “go” ...“make disciples”….. “baptize”…….”teach”.
It is easy to think that this is an instruction simply to do with the increase of numbers, something no doubt we would all like to see. It’s also easy to get hung up on numbers. We know that crowds followed Jesus, but following Him is not only about quantity but quality.
If you ask me the question about what our purpose is, then I would say it is the quality of our Christian work and worship which really counts; the depth of our commitment to one another; the integrity by which we look beyond ourselves to the needs of the community and world at large. If we can, working together, get these things right then we go a long way to answering the question, What on earth is the church for?