“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV)
Now and again people ask me what I perceive my job to be. My answer is always the same: to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then to help them grow up in Christ. That’s the work of the church.
“How about a place to find friends?” someone asks. Wonderful; there’s no better place to do so. But that’s a by-product of what we do. “How about the church being a place for cultural enrichment?” Excellent. But the university, the art museum and the orchestra can take care of that if we fail — but no one else will provide a place where people can grow up in Christ. “But what about our social events — you know, bridge, bowling, drama, pot luck suppers?” I love ‘em. But other places provide those opportunities, while they don’t give us a place to grow in Christ.
Hear me: there are a great many things we can offer in the church, and should offer. But let us remember that they are secondary. They are beautiful by-products, but they’re not our primary business. We didn’t come into existence — either the [local church] or Christendom as a whole — to be a political, social, or cultural institution, but to bring human beings to new and continuing, effective life in Jesus Christ.
— J. Ellsworth Kalas in a sermon entitled “What I Have Learned About Growing Up”