“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
This is the theme verse for John’s gospel and originally the final verse of the book. It was probably later, after John’s original writing, that Ch. 21 was added, along with much of Ch. 1 as a Prologue. John’s purpose was to convince his readers that Jesus was God and Messiah, so that they might have life, even “Abundant Life” (John 10:10). And isn’t that the primary purpose of the church as well?
We get wrapped up in other purposes for our lives and our churches. Acting correctly, following the rules, finding friendships, growing deeper in our faith, fixing this broken world, taking sides on social issues… all of these are singular purposes for different churches and for different Christians. But shouldn’t they all take a back seat to John’s purpose in his gospel: to help people have life in Jesus’ name? Everything else should be secondary. Important, yes, but not primary.
A friend once asked churches how many roses they had put on their altars in the past year. This assumed that roses on the altar marked a new conversion, a new life committed to Jesus. He told me he virtually never got more than 2 or 3, and usually these were kids from camp. His point was that when it comes to evangelism, to sharing the story we read today or a version of it with those who don’t know it, we stink. We are afraid of it so we’re bad at it so we excuse ourselves from having to do it.
But if evangelism was the primary purpose of John’s entire gospel, shouldn’t we consider it at least important if not primary for our churches and lives?