What is your church’s agenda? What function does it serve? What are its goals?
In Colossians 1 Paul divulges his goal, his agenda, what his total program is about as an apostle. Surely the purpose and function of the church ought to be similar to the kind of thing that Paul talks about when he describes his apostolic agenda:
Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which …. has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)
In verse 28 Paul goes on to describe what he does. It’s the only place in the entire Pauline corpus where he divulges his total agenda:
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man…” I think this is a description of the preaching of the Gospel. Paul is suggesting that there is a need to “admonish” or warn people about, perhaps, the coming judgment. He may also mean admonishing every person in the sense of letting them know about the good news of life everlasting and the forgiveness of sin.
“…and teaching every man with all wisdom…” If you try to boil the New Testament down to its essentials, you get two things:
1. The preaching of the Gospel whereby the church confronts the world
2. Teaching or edification whereby the church confronts itself as it seeks to build up the body of Christ.
You see these two goals in the Great Commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you… (Matthew 28:19-20)
You see, preaching the gospel is only part of the goal. Evangelizing and teaching go together to make up the total goal “to present every person complete in Christ.”
Paul has an image in mind here; he knows that one day he’ll stand before Christ. He has an offering of people that he will bring to the Lord. He wants to bring this offering before the throne of God in its most finished form. His goal is to bring every person as a mature or complete person in Christ Jesus.
It’s not enough to simply say, “Have you heard the good news?” That is the entry point into the kingdom of God—but the kingdom of God, for Paul, involves this goal of bringing every person complete in Christ. That involves the task of teaching.
I’ll explain more about that task of teaching in my next blog post. I’ll share with you the four most important things you need in order to start a life-changing Sunday School program, and I’ll explain why your church ought to consider devoting more resources to teacher training programs.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on April 6, 1994.