The ultimate goal of every Christian, and therefore the ultimate aim of the church, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Glory is a pretty abstract concept, and therefore it isn’t always clear to us what it means to glorify God in everyday life as individuals. It can be even more difficult to understand what it means to glorify God as a local church. In order to move from the abstract to the concrete we must go one step further and ask — What task is the local church given as the means by which they are to glorify God? As we read through the New Testament the answer becomes clear. The business of the church is to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ. This was the commission that Christ left to the church in Matthew 28:19. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
The mission of the church is not to feed the hungry. The mission of the church is not to keep teenagers out of trouble. The mission of the church is not to make people more responsible citizens. The mission of the church is not to maintain healthy marriages. The mission of the church is not to nurture healthy peer relationships. The mission of the church is not to establish a sense of belonging. The mission of the church is not to rid the world of corruption. The mission of the church is not to make beautiful music. The mission of the church is not to bring people into a worship experience. The mission of the church is not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The mission of the church is not to foster emotional healing. The mission of the church is not to create a space for everyone to use his or her gifts. The mission of the church is not world peace or national justice. The mission of the church is not to make good parents and healthy families.
While all these things are well and good, and while a healthy church will accomplish some of these things as a by-product of its central work, none of these things can rightly be called the mission of the church. The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. This is the work that Christ left the church with in Matthew 28:18-20, and this is the work we see the church giving themselves to by the power of the Holy Spirit in the rest of the New Testament.
If making disciples is the task that we have been given as a local church, then everything we do as a church should be about making disciples of Jesus Christ. Every program we implement and document we print should have as its aim making more and mature disciples of Jesus. This is not to say that we should utilize a pragmatic ends-justifies-the-means mentality in our disciple-making. Disciples are only made according to the pattern of the Word of God, and not in accordance with the latest and greatest church growth strategies. Everything we do as a church must be subject to the question: As a church, are we making disciples according to the pattern of Scripture in obedience to Christ’s command?