With the tri-fold assumptions in place: (1) the church is made up of people; (2)that the church could only come about after certain historical requirements were in place; and (3) that the church’s leadership is divine (in other words: God is the church’s leader), we can safely move on to the purpose, or goal, of the church. An ambitious goal for one post but that’s what you can expect from a probable-heretic.
Admittedly, I’m influenced by my context. We all are. If I was Methodist, Roman Catholic or Plymouth Brethren (woops, I am!) I’d find that the goal of the Church starts to skew more towards the work or duties of the Church but I have to work mental gymnastics to pull away from that. Instead, I force my eyes to look at redemptive history.
From Genesis, the creation and existence of Man consisted of a relationship as viceroy beneath Yahweh God. Man was to rule Earth but not as an independent agent: one who is in direct relation and subservience to his creator. When the relationship was disintegrated by man’s sin, man is cast out away from God. From that moment on, we see God enacting a plan to bring man back into a proper relationship.
Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve tribes: all of it leading to a people who are specified as a royal priesthood, a nation of priests. Now what was it that priests did? Sure they served in the tabernacle but the duty of priests, throughout history, has always been twofold. (1) As an authorized worshipper of deity and (2) as an intermediary between men and deity. The weird thing with Israel is that even though they have a specific tribe doing the priestly services in the tabernacle, the entire nation has a hedge planted around it with a big sign that says Nation of Priests.
So the Israelites were given the law, the covenants, the promises, the tabernacles, the patriarchs for the very purpose of (1) properly worshipping God and (2) educating the nations about God. But even so, that’s a gross oversimplification since part of their educating the nations consisted of a mandate to show mercy-but this a post that looks at Purpose/Goal not so much action. Israel’s goal was a light to the gentiles which shone on God.
Enter the Church who is also demarcated by Peter as a royal priesthood, a nation of Priests (of course making direct allusion to the Israelites of old) but the Church’s message is clear to a level that would cause the majority of Jews to trip: (1) The church is to worship God via the intermediary Christ the Son of God and (2) the church is to educate the nations about who God is as revealed in Christ.
In a very real sense, the church is continuing Israel’s mission but in as just an equal and real sense Israel couldn’t conceive of the extent of what was being done by God. Whereas in the Old Testament God’s glory was seen in the tabernacle through a veil and which much thunder and fear, now we see God clearer than ever before. God became flesh, was handled, was seen, was crucified and was resurrected. When we see God’s glory now, we see a cross and God hanging on it.
The church then winds up shining a light (yes, just like the Israelites) but pointing it at the revealed, unveiled Glory of God who is Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus becomes the church’s all in all. He’s the one foundation of The Church, its life, its only hope, its only place to glory: its one point of adoration.
For in worshipping Christ, the church is acknowledging what God has promised in Genesis, has carried out through time, and has finally revealed on the cross and empty grave. Therefore, a broad purpose of the church I’d have to say it is to corporately glorify God via glorifying God’s son who is Christ Jesus while they grow together to the full stature of the head. A goal, I must say, which allows Roman Catholics, Protestants and Greek Orthodox say “Amen.”
I alluded to several sections of Scripture: but since the topic is so broad, I’d point a person to some important reading in Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Acts, John and Hebrews. The subject is broad enough to demand reading the full books which I stated, Isaiah taking the longest but it can be read in a few hours.