The Main Action of the Church
What is the main act of the Church, the primary work? What action should be the number one focus of the people, the called-out ones of our Master, Jesus Christ? What act should take up the most time, the most resources of God’s people? What activity should dominate the life of a church?
You know that the ultimate source for the answer to this, and all questions regarding the life and work of the Body of Christ, is the Word of Christ, the Holy Scriptures. But I will not refer to the Bible now. May this article stimulate you to search the scriptures for the answer, and to examine my words by the Word.
How do you think others would answer this question?: worship, evangelism, social action, prayer, discipleship, teaching, etc. How do you answer this question? What say you?
According to my limited understanding of God’s Word here is my answer:
the main activity of the Church,
the action that should dominate the life of a church is
the reading, the proclaiming, the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.
The reading of the Holy Scriptures: in visiting various churches I have found few that give serious attention to reading the Bible. The kind of reading I refer to is the serious, deliberate, careful, reading of long passages, not just the quoting of a verse or verses throughout a sermon. When did you last hear someone in a meeting of a church read a large portion of Scripture slowly, carefully, thoughtfully, in a way that impressed you that the reader had taken significant time alone with the passage to prepare for the reading? That’s the kind of reading that is greatly needed in churches.
This kind of reading can be done by just about all the people in a church. A person does not need special gifting. Even the very young can read in this way, if it is modeled for them and if they are taught to read in this manner.
It has been my experience that most children’s programs give little time to read the Bible to the children. Most youth ministries spend little time seriously reading the Bible. Adult Bible studies, unfortunately, too often neglect the careful reading of God’s Word. Every time the people of the church gather, for whatever reason, they should give time to the reading of the Scriptures. If three ladies meet to plan the church picnic next month, would they be strengthened if they read the first two chapters of Hebrews? How about the monthly leadership meeting? What do you think would happen if the leaders of the church gave this type of instruction to the church every Sunday: “Church, this week (or month) every time any of you meet for any reason, will you please plan to give the first 15 minutes of your meeting to the careful reading of John 1 - 3? May our Lord pour His grace upon us through the serious reading of His Word.”
The proclaiming of the Holy Scriptures: proclaiming is telling forth, hearlding, speaking out. The most common word for proclaiming is preaching. But preaching brings to mind a man behind a pulpit during a service, preaching. Consider the practice several centuries ago, before modern means of communication. A king had an important message for his people. He would send a man to the town square and that man would read the message from the king. He would herald it. He would proclaim it. The emphasis was not on explanation, but on declaration. “Hear the word of our king: He invites all His people to a great feast to celebrate the marriage of His daughter...” Again, this proclaiming requires no special gifting. If a person can read, they can tell forth the message, the Word of the King over all kings. We are thankful that the Holy Spirit has gifted some of His people with His gift of proclaiming. But let not that fact stop you from speaking out His Truth to others. Declare it, speak it forth.
The teaching of the Holy Scriptures: explaining the meaning, giving understanding, imparting knowledge. Just about every person in the church, regardless of age, knows something another person does not know. Just about every person can explain a Gospel truth they have learned, to someone who has not learned it. “Just who is Jesus Christ?” “He is the one true God, the maker of all things, Ruler over this world and everything in existence.” That is teaching. You just taught, imparted knowledge to your friend in one sentence. The activity that should dominate the life and work of the church is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.
How grateful we are for gifted teachers our Lord has given to His church. We have all grown through their service. Sadly, though, there are few churches and godly teachers who accurately handle the Holy Scriptures. It is much too easy and all too common to impart error through the careless use of God’s Word, usually taken out of context.
The teaching that is needed is the careful exposition of the word, verse by verse, line upon line, chapter by chapter; teaching the Word as it was given, in the literary units the Holy Spirit inspired: letters, biographies, songs, narratives, proverbs, historical records, etc.
“We teach that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We teach that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God's Word to man without error in the whole or in the part. We teach that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture, recognizing that proper application is binding on all generations. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it. We teach that the Scriptures are totally sufficient (adequate for the purpose, enough) for His own glory, human salvation, faith and life. It contains all we need for life and godliness.” (taken from my doctrinal statement)
The main activity of the Church, the action that should dominate the life of the Church is the reading, proclaiming, teaching of the Holy Scriptures. It is important that the main meeting of the church, usually held on a Sunday morning, set the example for all the work of the church by giving adequate time for this most important activity. But if the church is to be strong and healthy, all the life of the church must be given to this main action.
We must realize that the Church represents our God to the world. We are His ambassadors. He has entrusted His Word to His Church. It is through His people, properly using His Word that He communicates His Truth to our world. The main action of the Church is not for the Church only. It is also for the world, through the Church, empowered by God, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Church needs to read, proclaim, teach the Word to the unsaved people in the world. For His glory, may He move all His people, and unsaved people, closer to Himself through the reading, proclaiming, teaching of His Word.
In Jesus’ goodness,
Marty L. Herron, Jr.
May this challenge you to search the Bible, to examine, in order to determine if these words are a true expression of our Savior’s primary purpose of His Church. Please send me your comments. I appreciate your input. Please include Bible references.