Acts 2:42 could be considered  a purpose statement for the church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’  teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  According to this verse, the purposes/activities of the church should be 1)  teaching biblical doctrine, 2) providing a place of fellowship for believers, 3)  observing the Lord’s supper, and 4) praying.

The church is to teach  biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith. Ephesians 4:14 tells us,  “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and  blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness  of men in their deceitful scheming.” The church is to be a place of fellowship,  where Christians can be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10), instruct one  another (Romans  15:14), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32),  encourage one another (1  Thessalonians 5:11), and most importantly, love one another (1 John 3:11).

The  church is to be a place where believers can observe the Lord’s Supper,  remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians  11:23-26). The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42)  also carries the idea of having meals together. This is another example of the  church promoting fellowship. The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer. The  church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices  prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about  anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present  your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,  will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Another  commission given to the church is proclaiming the gospel of salvation through  Jesus Christ (Matthew  28:18-20; Acts 1:8). The  church is called to be faithful in sharing the gospel through word and deed. The  church is to be a “lighthouse” in the community, pointing people toward our Lord  and Savior Jesus Christ. The church is to both promote the gospel and prepare  its members to proclaim the gospel (1 Peter  3:15).

Some final purposes of the church are given in James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure  and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to  keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The church is to be about the  business of ministering to those in need. This includes not only sharing the  gospel, but also providing for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) as  necessary and appropriate. The church is also to equip believers in Christ with  the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the  world. This is done by biblical teaching and Christian fellowship.

So,  what is the purpose of the church? Paul gave an excellent illustration to the  believers in Corinth. The church is God’s hands, mouth, and feet in this  world—the body of Christ (1  Corinthians 12:12-27). We are to be doing the things that Jesus Christ would  do if He were here physically on the earth. The church is to be “Christian,”  “Christ-like,” and Christ-following.

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