The Church Doesn't Exist For This

Sometimes there is confusion over why the church exists.

If you know Seventh-day Adventist Church history, you know this Christian denomination sprouted from a movement of a small group of people who shared common beliefs. These early Adventists held on to the biblical teaching of Jesus' Second Advent after the Great Disappointment experienced by a larger group of people labeled by historians as "Millerites." The Great Disappointment occurred on October 22, 1844, as the result of unmet expectations of followers of the teachings of William Miller, who believed the Bible prophesied Jesus' return to earth on that date.

While doctrine is important, the primary purpose of the church isn't to defend doctrine.  The church exists to display the power of truth to transform sinners into saints. Agreement on fundamental doctrines fosters community.  When correctly understood and applied, true doctrines build up the church into a united body that glorifies God. Early Adventist pioneers ranged in age from teenagers to older adults. Including a belief in Jesus' Second Coming, other doctrines that brought them together were the biblical teachings on the heavenly sanctuary, the pre-advent judgement, the nature of death, and the seventh-day Sabbath. Energized by truth, this movement grew into a powerful force for good in the world.

The Adventist movement grew in numbers as its pioneers shared their biblical knowledge with people outside their group. As the movement's numbers grew and local congregations of believers formed, it became necessary to implement a formal organizational structure. Our Adventist pioneers formed an institutional structure that developed and adapted to church growth. The structure formed into what we recognize today as the Seventh-day Adventist

But the institutional structure is not the church. The church doesn't exist to support the institutional structure. The institutional structure serves its purpose only when it supports the church's mission.  The church is God's people chosen to reveal His character to the world.

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1Peter 2:9 NKJV)."

Sometimes the structures and processes designed to support mission become more important than the mission. Sometimes the survival of the institution or process becomes more important than what it was built for. When this happens, the church can find itself propping up a structure or a process after it is no longer serving its original purpose. Its bureaucratic systems become a burden and the church loses momentum.

When we remember that institutions and processes are tools to support the mission, we can more easily adapt when we realize we need a different tool to get the job done. The church keeps on moving.

The church doesn't exist to do things the way we've always done them. This is self-serving.

Jesus didn't commission the church to serve itself. The church (individually and corporately) exists for carrying out Jesus' Great Commission to make disciples, baptize and teach obedience to His commands (Matthew 28:19-20). As Seventh-day Adventists, this commission includes the Three Angels' Messages (Revelation 14:6-12), which include proclaiming of the everlasting
gospel of justification by faith, revealing God's true character, and warning against deceptive doctrines.

As members of Jesus' church, there are two things that must be front and center in everything we do: Loving God with complete devotion and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Bible provides clear direction on how to do this and not wander off the path God put us on.

Let's continually and more fervently pray for God's wisdom, direction, and strength to answer His call as individuals and as a church family.

Where there are challenges there are opportunities for God to do wonderful things when we are faithful to His call.

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