The Church’s Basic Functions

The Church’s Basic Functions

With the head spiritual leadership and supporting physical leadership established, we can now look at how we can structure specific areas of ministry under the head leadership. If we want to form the structure of ministry around how it functions, we need to discover the basic functions of the church. Looking at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 and at the early church in Acts 2:42-47 (and many other places in scripture), we can see four basic functions or areas of ministry. These four general areas are listed in the table below:

Evangelism, Outreach, Missions …
Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Mark 16:15
Fellowship, Encouraging, Accountability …
Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:2
Praise, Prayer, Worship …
Ephesians 5:19-20, 6:18; Psalms 33:1
Equipping, Education, Bible Study …
Matthew 28:20; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 14:26

These four areas can be represented by four relationships: between the church and those outside of it, the church and those within it, the church’s relationship toward God, and God’s relationship toward the church. These four relationships can be indicated by four directional words describing the direction of the relationship to the church. They are:

Out-Reach: The church reaching out to those outside the church. (Evangelism, Missions)

In-Reach: The church reaching in to those inside the church. (Encouragement, Fellowship)

Up-Reach: The church reaching up by communicating and giving to God. (Praising, Prayer, Worship)

Down-Reach: God reaching down by communicating and giving to the church. (Bible Study, Preaching, Teaching, the Holy Spirit)

All of these relationships work together in balance and are necessary for each other to function properly. These four areas are all part of the discipleship process, which is the church’s Great Commission, and is overseen by the church leadership. People are brought into the body of Christ through evangelism and then through equipping, encouragement, and connecting with God they then go out and evangelize to others who are then brought into the discipleship process. With each of these four relationships, ministry teams can be established to help ensure that each one functions properly and that no area is neglected or out of balance.  Sub-teams can also be established under each of these four core ministry teams to deal with more specific areas if necessary. Maybe even naming the ministry teams Up-Reach or In-Reach, for instance, would help the team to keep focused on their purpose. The following figure illustrates the In, Out, Up and Down-Reach relationships and how each are related to one another.