Category Archives: Blog

Is Church the Ends or the Means?

congregation

Is church the ends or the means?

It’s a great question to ask. I was on a conference last week, and the speaker very helpfully unpacked this for us.

See very often we see church as the means:

  • We go to church in order to be built up in our faith.
  • We share fellowship with each other so we can be encouraged.
  • We join our voices so that we can have a worship experience.
  • We’re taught together so that we can go off and do our own evangelism.

Now all those things are true. But what if church for church itself was the primary purpose? What if church was the ends rather than the means?

When you think of the whole storyline of the Bible, the full end goal is of Jesus returning, judging, joining heaven and earth and gathering a people to himself. That gathering is the final church. Our little local churches are expression of that final gathered church. They’re like samples or tasters of what we will one day experience.

As Jesus died, he wasn’t merely paying for my individual sins. He was dying for a whole people group who would one day come together in him. Though we exercise faith and repentance for our own sins, we are then brought into the people of God.

Now that’s not very typical of our thinking in the UK. According to one researcher, we’re actually the most individualistic nation in the world, followed by USA and Australia. That means that thinking about our corporate identity in Christ is not something that will come naturally to us and is something we must train ourselves to do.

We may be concerned that such a corporate identity loses the value of me as an individual. But isn’t such self-centredness the core of what sin is?

When you think of church in this light, it changes your motivation and purpose in gathering as church:

  • If church is the ends then it’s not just something I go to but it’s who I am – it’s my corporate identity as the people of God
  • If church is the ends then I don’t just come along when I can make it, but I prioritise it and make every effort to shift everything else out of the way so I can be there.
  • If church is the ends then it’s not primarily about what I can get out of it but about how I can be a part of it and contribute to it.
  • If church is the ends then I don’t view others as a way of getting something out of them or done, but as an opportunity to collaborate and cooperate.
  • If church is the ends then I don’t merely work on making converts but on disciples who will be joined in with us in Christ together.
  • If church is the ends then online teaching and worship material is merely a compromise for when it is impossible to actually be gathered.
  • If church is the ends then even when I’m not gathered with the people of God, I’m praying for them and in touch with them throughout the week.

So is church primarily the ends or the means? Well in the fullness of time in Christ, it’s the ends. That’s what we should increasingly reflect today.

(Published in our July Magazine)

photo credit: CC<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/27340278@N03/30298494394″>Way of the Cross as a ‘Way of Mercy’ – World Youth Day Celebration</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

VAULTS 2.4.17am

CrossWith the subject of the sermon this morning being the victory of Jesus over the Devil on the cross, here are some very appropriate and useful links for today’s sermon (VAULTS):

Here’s an article by Thabiti Anyabwile on The Gospel Coalition, with the rather long title, “The Death Of Death In The Death of Christ means Victory over Death for those who Believe.”

A book that’s well worth every Christian reading is “The Cross of Christ” by John Stott. It’s pricey (though well worth it) so maybe buy a used copy on Amazon or from your local bookshop or other online retailer.

Finally, below is a video of a sermon by John Piper with the title “The Fall of Satan and the Victory of Christ.” If you prefer to read sermons, then you can read the manuscript.

photo credit: Endre Majoros Crossing via photopin (license)

New Song: Happy Day

Get ready for Sunday when we’re planning to do this new song:

1. The greatest day in history
Death is beaten, You have rescued me
Sing it out, Jesus is alive
The empty cross, the empty grave
Life eternal, You have won the day
Shout it out, Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh, happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh, happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

2. When I stand in that place
Free at last, meeting face to face
I am yours, Jesus, You are mine
Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate, Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh, happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh, happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

(Bridge)
Oh, what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me
And oh, what a glorious day
What a glorious name

Oh, happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh, happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

By Tim Hughes & Ben Cantelon; © 2006 Thankyou Music

What Would Jesus Say…?

What Would Jesus Say

How would you fill in the blank? What would Jesus say to a particular person, about a particular issue, or concerning an aspect of life? Or whatever else you can think of that you’d be interested to hear Jesus on, what would it be?

We want to hear from as many of you on this as we can. Consider it something of a survey, if you like. If you want to tell us your thoughts, you can enter them in our online form, here.

The results of that survey will form four Sunday mornings in January. We’ll take the top four answers and tackle them as best we can on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of January.

Because we want to hear from as many people as possible, why not share this with others on facebook or twitter. Or grab a postcard (available at our church building) and hand it to someone so that they can fill it in.