You open your Bible, seeking to understand God’s purpose for His church. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you want to align your life and your church with His original design. What is the mandate, or central mission, He has entrusted to His people?
The New Testament reveals three clear priorities that comprise the mandate of the church: worship God, nurture believers, and reach the lost. When believers collectively focus on exalting God’s glory, edifying fellow Christians, and evangelizing the world, they are fulfilling their biblical mission.
- The church is called to worship God through prayer, praise, preaching, and singing.
- Nurturing believers happens through teaching, fellowship, and discipleship.
- Evangelism includes proclaiming the gospel, serving others, and making disciples.
- Every local church should balance these three priorities based on the needs of their community and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Fulfilling the biblical mandate requires unity, humility, faith, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
The Church is Called to Worship
As God’s people, the church’s greatest purpose is to worship the Lord. Through worship, we ascribe worth to God and glorify Him as Creator and Redeemer. Jesus told the woman at the well that God seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). As believers, we worship God through prayer, praise, preaching, and singing.
Worship Requires Prayer
Prayer is essential to the life of the church. Through prayer, we exalt God’s greatness, seek His will, request His help, and align ourselves with His purposes. Jesus emphasized that God’s house should be a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13). As the early church devoted themselves to prayer, they saw the Holy Spirit move in power (Acts 1:14, 2:42-43). Paul urged the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When believers pray consistently and collectively, the church experiences the presence and blessing of God.
Worship Includes Praise
Heartfelt praise is another form of worship. The Psalms demonstrate exuberant praise to God for His mighty deeds, perfect character, and wondrous creation. Through praise, we proclaim God’s goodness and take delight in who He is. The early church was characterized by joyful praise (Acts 2:47). As we freely magnify the Lord, praise releases faith and Hope. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6).
Worship Requires Preaching
Biblical preaching centers on exalting the person and work of Christ. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, preachers proclaim the Word of God, equip believers, and call hearers to obey the gospel. Faithful preaching points people to the Savior and teaches sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2-4). It avoids false teaching and encourages others by declaring biblical truth. Great preaching directs hearts Godward in worship.
Worship Includes Singing
The Lord loves the heartfelt singing of His people. Music that magnifies God’s glory and supremacy is a vital element of worship. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs allow believers to proclaim truth, encourage one another, and offer praise with gratitude (Colossians 3:16). Singing is a beautiful expression of love for God and appreciation of His grace. Through Christ-centered worship music, believers offer a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).
As you gather each week, devote yourself wholeheartedly to worshiping your great God. Magnify His supreme worth through prayer, praise, preaching and singing. Worship from the heart, for He is worthy!
The Church is Called to Make Disciples
In addition to worship, a fundamental part of the church’s mission is making disciples. Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus commanded His followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Disciple-making includes evangelism, baptism, and teaching obedience to God’s Word.
Evangelism: Proclaiming the Gospel
Fulfilling the Great Commission begins with evangelism – sharing the good news about Jesus Christ. Starting in Jerusalem, the early church spread outward proclaiming the gospel message across the Roman Empire, planting churches as people repented and believed (Acts 2:41, 16:5). Jesus said this about the Spirit: “When He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Empowered by the Spirit, Christians must boldly and lovingly call people to repent, believe, and be reconciled to God. There is no greater act of love than urging someone to be saved!
Baptism: Public Identification with Christ
Baptism is a public declaration of faith in Christ. New believers in the early church were immediately baptized as a sign of their new life in Him (Acts 2:41). Although baptism does not save a person, it signifies death to sin and newness of life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism visibly identifies a believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Through this ordinance, new Christians openly pledge their loyalty to the Savior. Baptism also unites believers to the local church.
Teaching Obedience to God’s Word
After conversion and baptism, disciples of Jesus need instruction in righteous living. By teaching disciples to obey all of Christ’s commands, the church nurtures spiritual maturity. Paul said that the Lord gifts pastors and teachers to equip believers to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). Wise biblical teaching leads to understanding, obedience, spiritual maturity, unity and Christlikeness. The church must create avenues for believers to grow in their faith through small groups, Sunday Schools, discipleship relationships, and Bible studies. With compassion, patience and sound doctrine, the church can make fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Being a disciple-making church requires mobilizing the congregation to share the gospel, baptize new believers, and diligently teach obedience to God’s Word. Jesus’ disciples turned the world upside down by spreading His message. He calls the church to continue this mission until He returns!
The Church is Called to Nurture Believers
In addition to worship and evangelism, the New Testament emphasizes that churches should nurture those within the body of Christ. Through fellowship, instruction, prayer, and meeting needs, the church strengthens believers to live godly lives that honor Christ.
The early church devoted themselves to fellowship – sharing life together and caring for one another (Acts 2:42-47). Paul urging believers to instruct and admonish one another through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16). James said to confess sins to each other and pray for each other (James 5:16). The Bible also encourages generosity within the church to meet each other’s needs (2 Corinthians 8-9). When believers walk together in transparency, humility, and love, everyone grows spiritually mature in Christ.
Here are key ways your church family can nurture you in the faith:
- Fellowship: Get to know fellow believers through Sunday gatherings, small groups, serving together, and meeting in homes. Pray for each other and build caring relationships.
- Instruction: Take advantage of opportunities to learn God’s Word through sermons, classes and Bible studies. Grow in understanding His truths.
- Prayer: Pray for your church leaders and ask others to pray for you. Meet regularly to lift up needs and praise God together.
- Service: Use your gifts to serve within the Body, blessing others through hospitality, teaching, encouragement, generosity, and practical help.
- Support: When facing difficulties, lean on your church to provide emotional, spiritual or physical support during hard times. Give and receive care.
The church is the family of God! By sharing life together through fellowship, instruction, prayer, service and support, believers nurture one another to become more like Jesus Christ.
Fulfilling the Biblical Mandate
To fulfill its God-given mandate, every local church must keep biblical priorities in focus. While specific ministries may differ, the fundamental mission remains unchanged: worship God, make disciples, and nurture believers. The Holy Spirit gives unique vision to each congregation based on their setting and opportunities.
Equally important is cultivating the underlying spiritual environment that allows a church to thrive. The New Testament highlights several crucial attitudes and values:
Unity: Christ’s followers are to live in harmony and love, laying aside selfishness and pride (John 13:34-35, Philippians 2:1-4). Disunity cripples ministry effectiveness.
Humility: Each believer should adopt the humble mindset of a servant, regarding others as more important than self (Philippians 2:3-4, 1 Peter 5:5-7).
Faith: Believers must depend on God through believing prayer and faith in His Word (Mark 11:22-24, Hebrews 11:6). Churches cannot succeed in their own strength.
Empowerment: Jesus commanded His disciples not to minister until they received power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). All service must be Spirit-empowered.
When focused on exalting God, edifying believers, and evangelizing the lost, the church is aligned with its biblical mission. May every congregation glorify Christ by obeying His mandates. Only by God’s grace and in His power can the Great Commission be fulfilled. He calls you to play your vital part within the Body!