What is the Purpose of the Church?
Beloved in Christ,
Yesterday, I heard a presentation from Archbishop Melissa Skelton and Canon Alissa Newton, both of the College for Congregational Development, which included a helpful reminder about how to think about the purpose of the local community of faith. They reminded us that a local congregation really has three purposes: to gather, to transform, and to send disciples of Jesus.
We gather together around the person of Jesus, we allow ourselves to be transformed by that encounter, and then we are sent into the world to witness to Jesus’ way of love.
In the midst of all of the immense and complex challenges around us, I found it helpful to be reminded of what, essentially, the church is for. The how can and does change, but the why remains the same.
How we gather, how we have transforming encounters with Jesus, and how we are sent, change and evolve with history, context, and circumstance. But why we exist, who are are called to bear witness to, and what the way of love looks like, remain constants in times of abundance as well as in times of scarcity, in easy times as well as in hard times, in joy and in sorrow, in life and in death.
As you continue to lead and minister in the faith communities of ECMN, through all that is challenging and complex in these days, I invite you to spend some time reconnecting with our central, simple purpose: to gather around Jesus, to open ourselves to be changed by meeting Jesus, and to be sent into the world to walk and witness to his world-changing way of love.
I’m grateful to be on that journey with you.
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota