The question would appear to be a legitimate one, at least judging by how often it is asked. Isn’t the assembly supposed to feed me and strengthen me? Aren’t shepherds there to care for me, give me counsel, help me to develop my gift? Isn’t the idea of a “body” of believers to express care and love one for another? Legitimate questions?
What is the main purpose of an assembly? To serve my needs? Is it all about me? In the purpose-driven church, is the purpose to “fulfill” me?
The main purpose of a local assembly is totally different. Scripture teaches that the main purpose of a local church is to satisfy – yes, satisfy – the heart and honor of God and Christ! Now lest you think this claim too one-sided, consider for a moment the varied metaphors of a church. It is a lampstand, a chaste virgin, a tilled field, a building, temple, body, house of God, and pillar and ground of the truth. Space does not permit taking each of these individually. Two or three might, however, suffice to establish the principle.
Consider the assembly as “pillar and ground of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). What is being taught by this metaphor? A local company of believers is responsible to maintain the truth of God as the bulwark, and to witness to it, in its “pillar” character. We are upholding the honor of God when we uphold and maintain His truth.
What of the tilled field? For whom is the fruit? If we are God’s “husbandry” (1 Cor 3:9), the fruit from the garden is for God. He sought it long ago in Israel (Isa 5) and failed to find it. A new Vine has been established through which believers, in union with that Vine, are able to bear fruit. While it is true individually, the assembly affords a field in which collective fruit can be developed for God.
The lampstand (Rev 2&3)? Of course its purpose is to give light “over against the lampstand.” It is to reveal the beauty and sufficiency of Christ for all our movements in the holy place.
So if the main purpose of an assembly is toward God, the question should not be, “What has this assembly done for me?” but, “What have I brought to God and how have I contributed to its main purpose – upholding His honor and satisfying His heart?”
An assembly which is seeking to fulfill its “purpose” will be an assembly where believers are fed, cared for, nurtured, and developed. Guaranteed! But keep first things first. When secondary things become primary, then both primary and secondary are lost!