If you look at the official statements of purpose for most churches in North America, you might conclude they are a franchise operation. A religious version of McDonald's or Wal-Mart, with each establishment identical except for its location.
Almost every church claims Christ as its head and some variation of the following as its purpose: "To glorify God through worship, fellowship, outreach, and service."
The wording will differ, of course. Some churches keep it short and sweet: "To disciple the body; to evangelize the world." Others wax alliterative:
Exaltation-the church existing for Christ
Edification-the church existing for itself
Evangelism-the church existing for proclamation
Extension-the church existing for action
The similarity of stated goals, however, camouflages the vast differences between churches. Even within denominations, each local body is a unique expression, with different gifts, callings, and ministries. Some emphasize missions and give half their ...1