The purpose of a local church should be defined by the fundamental reason why it exists. Unfortunately, the primary purpose of some churches, becomes clouded by the development of religious programs and practices. Weekly events, programs and church practices must fulfill the primary purpose of a local church, rather than detract from it.
The purpose of a church is not found in the answer to this question... “What do we do?” This question typically focuses on weekly programs, the consumers of religious goods and services, and special events. Instead, the primary purpose of a church is found in the answer to a more important question... “Why is the work we do, essential to the cause of Christ?” A kingdom-centric purpose has the power to shape congregational sub-culture, by forcing people to focus on the priorities of Christ rather than the fulfillment of their own personal needs and preferences.
Purpose vs. Practices...
The primary purpose of Jesus Christ, must take priority over a congregation’s participation in weekly programs. To define the purpose of a local church by focusing on their weekly activities and programs would fall short of why Jesus called His church into being. There seems to be some confusion between the ‘mission’ and ‘the primary purpose’ of a local church. Jesus himself was very clear about His mission and the primary purpose of His local church. Jesus stated His mission... “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” Luke 19:10. Jesus stated the primary purpose for His church (or 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 all that I have com- manded you.” Matthew 28:19-20. The confusion about ‘purpose’ often stems from the fact that scripture also highlights several essential practices (rather than one singular purpose) for the local church.
Biblical practices for the local church include... worshipping God (Luke 4:8; John 4:23; Rev. 4:10), studying His Word (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Cor. 4:6), prayer (Acts 2:42), loving one another and our neighbors (John 13:35; Phil. 1:1-4), helping each other (Gal. 6:2), participating in water baptism and the Lord's supper (Luke 22:19-20), living as godly people (Titus 2:11-12), and being equipped to evangelize the world (Eph. 4:12; Matt. 28:18-20). All of these practices point to a primary purpose for the local church, but they do not ultimately answer the question “why is the work we do, important to the cause of Christ?”. Therefore, the primary purpose is still about seeking people who don't know Jesus Christ (essential purpose), and developing them into fully devoted followers (essential practices).