Rev. Charles Conn, former General Overseer of the Church of God, once wrote this interesting story:
When I lived in Atlanta, several years ago, I noticed in the Yellow Pages, in the listing of restaurants, an entry for a place called Church of God Grill. The peculiar name aroused my curiosity and I dialed the number. A man answered with a cheery, “Hello! Church of God Grill!” I asked how his restaurant had been given such an unusual name, and he told me: “Well, we had a little mission down here, and we started selling chicken dinners after church on Sunday to help pay the bills. Well, people liked the chicken, and we did such a good business, that eventually we cut back on the church service. After a while we just closed down the church altogether and kept on serving the chicken dinners. We kept the name we started with, and that’s Church of God Grill.”
Conn’s story is at once humorous and sad. It’s funny how an organization with a supposedly clear mandate could end up so distracted. At the same time, it’s sad how an organization with a supposedly clear mandate could end up so distracted. But before we rush to judge this church-turned-eatery, let’s acknowledge that under any number of circumstances, most churches are in danger of experiencing the same thing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always take much for churches to lose sight of its God-given purpose. It is imperative, therefore, to know to answer to this simple yet fundamental question: What does a church do?
In the New Testament, there are five words that describe the mission and purpose of the Christian church.
- Gospel (Evangelism) – And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
- Instruction (Teaching) – Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. (Matthew 28:20)
- Communion (Fellowship) – We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)
- Glory (Worship) – So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Service (Ministry) – For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
If we can transform each of these nouns into verbs, we will begin to put into action the very things that a church ought to do. I believe we can do all that and still have our southern fried chicken!