Now and again people ask me what I perceive my job to be. My answer is always the same: to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then to help them grow up in Christ. That’s the work of the church.
“How about a place to find friends?” someone asks. Wonderful; there’s no better place to do so. But that’s a by-product of what we do. “How about the church being a place for cultural enrichment?” Excellent. But the university, the art museum and the orchestra can take care of that if we fail -- but no one else will provide a place where people can grow up in Christ. “But what about our social events -- you know, bridge, bowling, drama, pot luck suppers?” I love ‘em. But other places provide those opportunities, while they don’t give us a place to grow in Christ.
Hear me: there are a great many things we can offer in the church, and should offer. But let us remember that they are secondary. They are beautiful by-products, but they’re not our primary business. We didn’t come into existence -- either the [local church] or Christendom as a whole -- to be a political, social, or cultural institution, but to bring human beings to new and continuing, effective life in Jesus Christ.
-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in a sermon entitled “What I Have Learned About Growing Up”