Great Ends Redux: church defined

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-20
– Derek and Rebekah Maul

Sunday mornings, when we arrive at church, I always take a few moments to center myself by reading the “People’s Preparation” paragraph at the beginning of the bulletin.

Rebekah reads it too, but only after she has bounced around the sanctuary, “working the room”! It has always been her natural approach to being in church and I doubt that her authentic passion for community will ever change.

Yesterday the preparation read as follows:

People’s Preparation:
“The great ends of the Church are: the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”

-The Great Ends of the Church (F-1.0304 Book of Order)

The statement, set out in the Presbyterian Church “Book of Order”, comprises a six point outline of the essential reason for – and purpose of – church. It holds special meaning for me because Rebekah used The Great Ends as the outline for her last six sermons at FPC Brandon and also for her first six messages at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church when we arrived in 2013.

The Great Ends are a powerful declaration of both identity and intention. So, in order to help me process what it means, I have paraphrased The Great Ends of the Church as something to think about at the beginning of this new week.

The great passion and purpose of the church is (or should be):

  • To share the Good News that God’s invitation, through Jesus, is into fullness and abundance, love beyond our imaginations.
  • To provide a space where God’s children can share life together, and be encouraged in faith.
  • To engage all of our intelligence, creativity, authenticity, giftedness, and imagination in public worship.
  • To pray, study, learn, ask questions, and promote the fullness and the depth of truth.
  • To love mercy, and to work together for justice and righteousness.
  • To do church and to live love out loud in such a way that the Good News shines out like a beacon of hope to the extent that people are drawn to know and participate in God’s salvation.

That’s probably enough to chew on for a while!

In love, and because love continually calls us to live – DEREK

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