The Church Universal | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
December 2014

The Church Universal

By: Elizabeth Murray

Recently, I have heard some people talk about going to church to be “filled.” They want to arrive “hungry” and they want to leave “full.” This led me to think deeper about, “What is the purpose of the Church? Why does the Church exist?” Yes, I do think that being spiritually filled is some part of church, but it’s not the main reason of church. To me, this viewpoint is narcissistic—what can I get out of church? Is that really why people are going to church these days? Have we lost a sense of what the Church is? What is the point of the Church?

The Church exists to be the body of Christ. The body of Christ is a group of people who come together and worship the Triune God. As God’s creation, we honor God through our praise and worship in church, but this does not take place only on Sunday morning. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”(Matthew 18:20 NRSV) The Church is larger than we can imagine, yet sometimes we put the Church in this box that has to meet our personal needs and desires.

The Church is Christian community. Everyone needs some kind of community. Sometimes the Church functions like an exclusive country club, but other times the Church can be a life-giving community that loves and support one another. Sometimes it can be a toxic environment that sucks the life out of its people. The Church is made up of sinful, flawed people, so the body of Christ is not perfect. Even still, I constantly pray that the body of Christ can come together to be that life-giving, positive community. This is because we cannot be the Church without this community and we cannot worship God without this community.

The Church also exists to transform the world. The United Methodist Church states that “the mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Transforming the world sounds like a large and overwhelming task, and we cannot completely transform the world on our own. But we, the body of Christ, can be led by the Holy Spirit to help bring about the Kingdom of God in our communities and churches. What would it look like if all if our churches were living into their role transforming the world? What kind of change would this have on individuals and on our society?

Some have said the Church is dying and is irrelevant, but I pray that the Church can get back to its roots so that it can be the Church that worships God, creates community, and transforms the world.

Discussion Questions: In what ways have you seen the church transform the world? How can you help make that transformation possible?

See more devotions from Elizabeth and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.