The Purpose of The Church: Making Disciples
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven he gave His disciples one final command. In Matthew 28:19-20 he instructed them to make disciples of all peoples. We accomplish this by (1) baptizing them and (2) teaching them. Please understand that baptism is in no way necessary for or a pre-requisite to salvation. In Scripture baptism is assumed for the believer. As a result, baptism is many times connected to salvation as a direct and immediate result of that salvation. Baptism was the sign of their conversion. So when this passage instructs us to make disciples by the sign of baptizing them, we can understand that to mean that we are to make disciples (1) by seeing them converted to Christ and (2) by teaching them or helping them mature in Christ.
Unfortunately, this passage is partially ignored. So many churches are so focused on making converts that they fail to make disciples. They lead people to faith in Christ, but then do nothing to help them mature in Christ.
Any time we only focus on converting people to Christ and yet fail to teach/disciple them we are not fulfilling the Great Commission. The only way to be obedient to this passage is to disciple all the nations (starting in your own church) by BOTH presenting Christ to the lost and then after they are converted to Christ, teaching and discipling them. If either portion is neglected, the disciple-making process is brought to an abrupt stop.
This reality is why we believe that the purpose of our church is to make disciples. It is why we exist. Yes, we strive to see people give their lives to Christ. We want to see people saved, but it does not stop there. If we neglect discipleship…if we fail to help people mature in Christ, we are neglecting the heart of the Great Commission. Everything we do as a church must be connected to the process of making disciples. If it is not, we are simply going through the motions of church with no thought as to our God-given purpose.