The Intent and Extent of Your Existence


“We’re doing everything we can as a church and yet we are not growing. What is wrong?”

Before you can determine the explicit purpose of your church, you must understand what purpose is. When we look in the thesaurus at the word “purpose,” we find cross-referenced words such as “intent” or “aim.” Your purpose depicts your intent, your aim, or your objective. A purpose validates the intent, extent (outward focus), and direction of the church.

What is the intent of the church? Is it to reach the community around you? Perhaps it is to send out missionaries or to take care of hurting church and community members? Every church has an intent. Most churches start out with a combined intent. However, over time, many churches lose the outward-focused intent. It is prudent to say that if you asked church leaders or members, they will almost always state their intent is to reach the lost community. However, in declining churches, the actions of church members will demonstrate a different intent. Reaching the lost community has become only an expressed intent, not a genuine, tangible intent.

A purpose validates the intent, extent, and direction of the church. The extent of the church is the degree or level to which the church exerts energy and resources to fulfill its purpose. In declining churches, we often see the majority of energy and resources being funneled into maintaining the ministries of the current church body of members to the neglect of the community. The further a church sinks into the phases of decline the less genuine ministry endeavors are provided for those outside the church. The extent of our church becomes less and less.

It is important to know the intent of your church before you attempt to move forward in reversing decline in your church. Can the intent be revolutionized? It can if the church is willing. In a declining church this always requires change. Once you know and set the intent of the church aright (ministering to the lost community), it is important to set the bar for striving to achieve the explicit intent. To what degree are you as a church and as a church leader/member willing to commit to achieve the explicit intent of the church to fulfill the purpose of the church?

The purpose of the church is to fulfill the Great Commission. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28:19-20 (HCSB)

As a church you have a purpose. The question becomes; If there were no obstacles or barriers in front of you, what is the one thing you would be doing for God to fulfill your purpose – as a church?

Before you move on, this is a great time to pray. Pray asking God to assist you in seeing and understanding what His specific purpose for your church is and what is your individual part in your church in discovering the uniqueness of fulfilling that purpose as a body of believers. Ask God to open your eyes, mind, and heart to receive from Him what you have as a church failed to see or believe in the past.

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