one striving for God's reign to come to earth, bringing his peace, wholeness, completeness, and health to all aspects of life.

Purpose of the Church: Michael Frost

I just posted a mini-review of the first section of The Shaping of Things to Come, and this post is about a youtube video I just watched with one of its authors, Michael Frost.  Michael talks about the purpose of the Church in compelling ways, ways that challenged me, and I wanted to share some of his thoughts.  If you'd like to watch the video for yourself (it's only 3 1/2 minutes), you can go here.

“The purpose of the Church, I think, is to alert people to the universal reign of God in Christ, in the same way as that was the purpose of Israel—to alert people to the universal reign of Yahweh…The gospel for Israel was that Yahweh reigns…over all kingdoms and dominions.  The Christian message is the same, except that reign and rule is exemplified and confirmed for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

The purpose of the Church, then, is to alert people to the reign and rule of God in Christ.  This is “more than church growth, attracting more numbers, more than saving the lost.”  He says there are two ways we alert people to God’s reign: we announce it and declare it, through relationships and public praise and proclamation, and we also demonstrate what the reign of God looks like.  If the reign of God is characterized by love, justice, mercy, grace, then we as the Church ought to go and act that out now, demonstrating for the world what the reign of God looks like: “show people what the world to come looks like here in the midst of the disorder of this world.”  Arguments about whether the Church should do social action or evangelism have no place.  The Church ought to be like a trailer for the greatest blockbuster movie in history—the world ought to look at the Church as it demonstrates what the universal reign of God looks like and want to participate!  “People ought to look at the Church—they ought to look at individual Christians—and they ought to see a trailer of this world to come.  They ought to see peace, justice, love, mercy, kindness.  They also ought to see celebration and joy, delicious flavors and beautiful life.  They ought to look at it and think, ‘I’d like to see the whole thing!’  I think that’s the purpose of the Church: to announce and to demonstrate the universal reign of God in Christ.  And then, if the Church grows, it’s incidental.  I think it will grow… But the primary goal is this alerting people to this irreversible truth of God’s reign.”

This is a beautiful way to see the purpose of the Church in my opinion: to announce and demonstrate the reign of God in Christ.  Personally, I think a big part of announcing is going, and as we go we also must demonstrate as a community this reign of God already being played out in our midst.  Too often the Church has stayed stagnant, attempting to announce from our pulpits and demonstrate from our cozy church buildings the reign of God.  We must do so by going and through proactive relationships with our neighbors, friends, colleagues, family members, etc. 

One of his most crucial points for me is that our focus has been skewed for too long, and we have made church growth and numbers our focus.  If we are living out the universal reign of God in our midst, demonstrating a radically loving, just, sacrificial community, the church will grow.  We'll never need another outreach "program" or church growth plan.  May we as individuals and as the Church be this trailer for the world, both announcing and demonstrating the wonderful, freeing, righteous reign of God.


on the walk April 12, 2010 at 9:14 PM  

thanks for this series. It has been too long since I have encountered this book, your posts are reminding me to encounter it again.

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