Theology Thursday: The Value and Purpose of the Church

By Ray Meadows, Faculty

Community church pews full of people of all ages and races with heads bowed and hands clasped

When kids are little, they are super inquisitive: “Dad, why does the wind blow?” or perhaps, “Dad, why do I have to clean my room?” and, “Dad, why do I have to go to school?” Most of the time we dads reply “because your mom said so!” This lets us off the hook. Sometimes the questions are more difficult, such as, “Dad, why do we have to go to church every Sunday?”

God Parents Through the Church

Not only is God the creator and sustainer of the universe, He is also the greatest parent one can have – which is why we get to call Him ‘Father.’ We can call on Him, share our deepest hurts and worries and even ask our questions. Asking questions of God does not show a lack of faith – He wants us to seek out the answers in His word.

Like all great parents, God often answers our questions (although I’m convinced, we sometimes get on his nerves) and like most kids, many students ask, “Why church?” Many of us have had conversations in which the person to whom we are speaking tells us they love Jesus, but not church. Why does God want us to gather, as followers of Jesus? Does He really require this of us?

The Foundation for Church

In the New Testament book of Hebrews, God provides the answer to the question of why Jesus is better than temple sacrifice. We find that the ceremonial law of sacrifice was a foreshadowing of better things, namely the work of Christ on the cross. For that matter, it was impossible for the blood of goats and bulls to permanently take away sins (Hebrews 10:4,11, NIV).

These sacrifices were at best temporary and needed to be made again and again. It would take the blood of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, poured out upon the cross to remove the stain of sin from our lives. Jesus’ sacrifice would not atone for our sins temporarily – but permanently!

The Purpose for Church

Celebrations are exciting! Birthday parties, baby announcements, anniversaries — who doesn’t love a great celebration? Therefore, God tells us about “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).

The purpose of the church is more than community. It's also about taking the time to give reverence to God for who He is. This time of worship is very important and should be exciting and awe-inspiring. It is a celebration of Jesus’ work on the cross to remove the sin debt of all who call upon him by repentance and faith. It is where we, together as a community, draw near to God in prayer, worship and hearing from His word.

By continual and regular gathering, we are able to encourage one another in love, serve each other for the glory of God, and it is the best way to say, “Thank you, Father, for sending Your Son to die for me, so that I might live.” The purpose of the church in today’s culture is community. We need each other more than ever. Do not look at your worship attendance as a drudgery, but as an opportunity to tell God how much you love Him!

Want more? Check out the GCU blog page and our theology degree programs. To start your educational journey at our Christian college, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen for more details.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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