The Lord’s church was planned before the world was ever created (Eph. 3:10-11) and then Christ came and purchased and established His church in the first century (Acts 20:28). Man certainly has a lot of ideas about the church—what it is, what its purpose is, what its work should be, etc. In many instances, churches have become major businesses or even country clubs or entertainment venues. What does the Bible say is the work of the Lord’s church?
First and foremost, the work of the church is to evangelize the lost world. The church has no greater purpose than this. This was the work that Jesus focused Himself upon during His lifetime (Luke 19:10; Matt. 20:28), and it is the work that He gave to His followers (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). While this work can be done collectively as a congregation, each member of each congregation is individually responsible for taking the saving power of the gospel to the lost souls around them (2 Tim. 2:2; Rom. 1:14-16; 1 Cor. 9:16). Every endeavor of the church must focus on evangelism.
Second, the work of the church is to edify members of the church. So, first, the church must look without, to those who are lost, and strive to teach them and bring them into the church. Then, the church must look within, to build up those who are members of the church (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11). There are those who are weak (Rom. 15:1), struggling (1 Thess. 5:14), in leadership (1 Thess. 5:12-13), dealing with loss (Jas. 1:27), young (Tit. 2:1-8), young in the faith (1 Pet. 2:2-3), etc. Of course, every member needs to be encouraged and built up, whether they fit in a certain category or not. Again, a congregation can edify collectively through events, but it is also an individual Christian’s responsibility.
Third, the work of the church is to extend benevolence to those in need. Remember that the first work of the church is to teach and save lost souls, so every effort of the church (including every benevolent effort of the church) should focus on helping people get to heaven. While there is a responsibility to “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10) and to “do good to all” (6:10), God gives attention “especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10) and to widows and orphans (Jas. 1:27). Obviously, the church cannot help everyone with every financial problem and the church is not an open bank with free money for all—the church must use prudence and wisdom in helping others. As with every work of the congregation, each member has an individual responsibility in this regard (Eph. 4:28).
The Lord established His church and gave clear work for her to do. Let us busy ourselves in these areas of His work!