Monday, March 24, 2008

Fundamental Functions of the Online Church (Part 1 of 6)

Before we can adequately discuss the Fundamental Functions of the Online Church, we must understand what the purpose of the Online Church is if it is to function as a legitimate church.

Wayne Grudem, in his book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (a 1296 page introduction!), identifies three primary purposes of the church.

Ministry to God: Worship - The church is to be involved in worship of the living God. DO NOT be tempted to limit this to simply the "worship service" or "worship music." Worship should extend deep within us and be expressed in a variety of ways.

Ministry to Believers: Nurture - The church is to protect, encourage, build up, strengthen and instruct the believer to grow in his or her relationship to Christ.

Ministry to the World: Evangelism/Mercy - The church has a responsibility to share the gospel with the lost, and bring hope to a fallen world through serving the lost, the least, and the lonely. (I stole that from somewhere, so please forgive my plagiarism.)

The cliché, but easy way to remember these is with the terms, UpReach, InReach, and OutReach. Before you look to the online church to see if it fulfills these purposes, hold your own church up against this list and see where the holes are.

I pastor a Bible church and we tend to be very good at doing InReach, interested in OutReach (especially if we can give money to it rather than do it ourselves), and the UpReach is there but not always very visible.

Over the next few days, I will explain how the Fundamental Functions of the Church fit into these purposes dealing specifically with issues related to online churches.

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