In 1995 Rick Warren published his best selling book The Purpose-driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message And Mission. In 2007 he followed that book with The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? Yet, after all these years, churches and individuals are still drifting through life with no sense of purpose or direction. It's no wonder many of our churches make little to no impact on their communities.
The church is called to be a transforming agent in our communities. As we see the social and moral climate of our nation today we have to admit that the church is doing little in the area of transformation. The salt has lost its savor.
One writer summed up our problem very well when he described the church in this way. "The Church is like a ship on whose deck festivities are still kept up and glorious music is heard, while deep below the waterline a leak has been sprung and masses of water are pouring in, so that the vessel is settling hourly lower though the pumps are manned day and night." Few observers of the church would disagree with this assessment, but what makes it so frightening is that these words were written in 1957! In the past 59 years the band has continued to play while the ship has continued to sink even deeper into the depths, and little is being done about it.
Church leaders have chased one fad after another trying to find ways to fill their congregations with new members. Denominations are seeking ways to become more inclusive to appeal to a broader mass of people. In some situations our theological teachings have become so watered-down and dumbed-down that they are hardly recognizable as Christian. In our efforts to become all things to all people we forget to be the one thing God has called the church to be: an agent of transformation.
The mission of the church is simple. It exists to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. This is the mission of the church regardless of its size. How each church goes about doing these two things will differ, but each church shares the same purpose. In fulfilling this purpose we become transforming agents in our communities.
Is your community different because your church exists? That's a fair question for every church to ask. If your church was to close its doors tomorrow, how would that impact your community? Another fair question. If you can't identify a good answer to these two questions then you need to take a long, hard look at what your church is doing.
The church needs to stop complaining about the state of our society and begin to do something about it. We will begin to change our nation one person, one family, one neighborhood, one community at a time. The time to start living our purpose is right now.