The Role of the Church

Richard Thetford

What is the role of the church? This is a very good question. In the society in which we are living today many have become confused about what the role of the church really is. But this is certainly not a new issue, for the Lord’s church has become divided over the past several years because of man trying to redefine what the role of the church is to be. When we look in God’s Word to find the answer to the question then it becomes very clear. Let’s look at some scripture that shows very clearly, what God has instructed as regard to the role of the church.

We can learn from 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 that the church has the responsibility to preach the gospel. Paul writes: “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” In addition, the church is to edify each other through working and worshiping together (Ephesians 4:11-16). Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” The church is also to give benevolent assistance to needy saints (Acts 11:27-30). That is what the Bible clearly teaches. If we would stick to what God has instructed for us to do then we would not be divided over the issues that have crept in over the years (Revelation 22:18-19; 2 John 9).

Where Is SCRIPTURAL Authority For Recreation?

I have never understood why Christians on one hand claim to be striving for heaven, but on the other hand will not ensure that they look to God’s Word for guidance on all that they do, say, or teach on a matter. Because of this serious error, many Christians have allowed themselves to be drawn away from practicing true righteousness and into doing things that seem good and right in their own eyes. That is why recreation has crept into the local church and has split the Lord’s people.

We can NOT find anywhere in the Bible, authority for the local church to engage in recreation. Can you find where there is established Bible authority for building recreational facilities such as gymnasiums, “fellowship halls”, or the like? Can you find anywhere in the Bible that the early church sponsored sporting teams, or used camels (buses) and donkeys (vans) to transport their teenagers to Jerusalem World (Astro World) or to snow activities at Mt Ararat (Copper Mountain). It is alright for families to do these things, but I’m talking about the work or role of the church to do these things.

Just because the Bible may be silent on these things does not give us permission to do these things as a church. But you know what, we do have more than silence to go on for some of these recreational things. The Lord, through Paul told us what He thinks about the local church making these activities a part of the church’s work. “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you” (1 Corinthians 11:22). Then later in verse 34 Paul says: “But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment...” Here we see that the Corinthian congregation (the local church) had perverted the Lord’s Supper and to keep this from happening again Paul wrote to them to keep the family activities (such as the common meal) at home, separate from the work or role of the church.

In the area of food and fun, it is good for Christians to get together and have a good time while enjoying a meal. But it is NOT the work of the local church to sponsor these type of activities. Before the church can ever engage in something it must have Bible authority. Church division occurs when we do things which God has not previously authorized. We can all agree what the work of the church is because we can see it in the Bible. We have become divided because many have added things to the work of the church that was never authorized or intended to be part of the local church work. Sadly, many search for a congregation in which to worship with that provides the most fun and entertainment. All Christians striving to enter heaven and “doing the will of the Father” (Matthew 7:21), should seek out a congregation of the Lord’s people that are sincerely standing for what is right, honest, and authorized by the Word of God. Are you making sure that you are serving God the same way He has instructed the first century Christians to do. If you are, then you will understand what the real “Role of the Church” is.