“We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church.”
This is one of those memes that floats around Facebook and sounds good on the surface. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking the purpose of the church is to change the world. But I beg to differ. The purpose of the church is not to change the world. The purpose of the church is to worship God. Until the church realizes this, and returns to it’s major purpose, we will never affect this world at all. But even so, that is not our goal. Our goal is to be obedient to Him. Yes, we are called to make disciples, but only the Spirit can convert them.
Only God can change the culture and He does that through the gospel, not through the church. This is the problem with every generation, we get off base ever so slightly and become Pharisees the moment we do. In saying this, I believe the main purpose of the church is to be the people of God, who worship Him. He has redeemed us so that we can worship Him. Not so that we can change the culture or the world. Remember that the Israelites were redeemed out of Egypt for the purpose of worship, not for the purpose of changing Egypt. God may be done changing our culture, but He is not done changing us, causing us to grow, and sanctifying us. We need to focus on those things, not the depraved culture around us. We find another illustration in Lot and Sodom. God’s purpose was rescuing Lot from the depraved culture around him, not leaving him there so that he could change the Sodomites.
I’m not saying that we don’t pray to this end and do what we can. What I’m saying is that this is not the purpose of the church. If God chooses to use us to change the culture, wonderful. But if not, then we must trust Him in His greater purposes. Men who preach that we are to change the culture put unrealistic expectations on the lives of the flock. We’re sheep, not Iron Man, called by God to follow Christ, not to change that which we have no power to change.