I am so glad you asked! For your three "WHY"s I will give you three outstanding purposes the Church serves, both in the life of the believer and in the plans of God. Here they are in no particular order.
Equipping the Saints
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:11-16
Here we have a description of the gifts of Christ. This “He” points specifically to Jesus rather than to the Holy Spirit, which is interesting in itself. The Spiritual gifts as detailed in other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Romans 12:6-8 manifest in activities that the Spirit empowered Christian might “do,” whereas these gifts in Ephesians 4 speak more of a positional gifting.
I take the time to mention this, because the evangelist mentioned above certainly does evangelism, but moreover, his roll in the body of Christ is to equip others to do the work of evangelism. The Pastor not only shepherds the flock, but trains others and gives them the tools they need to walk out the life of a sheep.
God assembles local bodies and gives gifts to these bodies for our equipping.
Check out the language here –
equipping the saints for the work of service
attain to the unity of the faith
attain to … knowledge of the Son of God
attain to … a mature man
grow up in all aspects into Him
growth of the body
building itself in love
This is one of the main reasons we join together with other believers. These people are in part a fulfillment of His precious and magnificent promises which help us to become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that our lusts bring to the table.
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB
House of Prayer
When Jesus dumped the tables of the moneychangers in the temple, and drove out those who were buying and selling, he said:
And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." Mark 11:17 NASB
When He spoke of the physical temple, it was a type of the true temple of God – His people. This is another function of the body of Christ. We are to pray for one another, and pray for those not yet in Christ, the world, and the coming of the kingdom on Earth as in Heaven.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20
This passage is often called the Great Commission. We have looked at what the Church does within its own doors, but the great work of the Church is the mission Christ gave us. When the scripture says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” the ‘Go’ here is better understood ‘as you go’ or ‘as you carry on with your activities.’ The real command in the commission is ‘make disciples.’
Sometimes we Christians get our rolls reversed. Jesus told us that He would ‘build the Church.’ His instruction to us is to ‘make disciples.’ Notice He does not tell us to make converts. Rather we are to make disciples. A disciple is a learner under discipline, a student, a follower. Paul said imitate me as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
In summary, the purpose of this One True Church comes down to this, that all men might know Him and be conformed to His image. [Tweet This]
We equip those in Christ to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers (whom we have equipped)
We go into the harvest and make followers
We equip those followers to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest...
Well – you get the idea.
Thanks so much for coming.
See you again soon.