This is the question that has produced more discussion (and arguments) than perhaps any other. Why do we exist? Some would say our church exists for us to fellowship with other Christians. While that is true in a sense, if that is the primary reason we exist, it would seem God would be effective in creating a true fellowship of people by taking us to Heaven where we can fellowship perfectly. Some might say it is to worship. I love worship - but again I would think worshipping in the presence of God in heaven would be a whole lot sweeter than what we call worship here on earth. Or maybe the church exists to grow as disciples. I think this is important but wouldn't we learn far greater standing before Jesus in his throne room than from all the imperfect pastors & teachers that make up our churches.
As I look at the church - there is only one thing that the church is called to do, to exist for, that will not be infinitely better in heaven: that is Mission. There will be no mission as we know it in heaven - everyone will know God perfectly for ever. But right now on earth, the church exists for mission - the Missio of God. You might say, our church does not exist "primarily" for us at all - but rather we exist for the sake of those who are not yet part of our church, in hopes that by God's grace they one day will be.
This does not make worship, fellowship, & discipleship less important. I actually think it makes it more. Follow with me - We are growing in our knowledge of Jesus Christ and the gospel not simply for our own benefit but for the sake of making Jesus known in the world and area of influence that is around us. True discipleship produces mission.
Learning to love and bear with the men and women God has put into our church, our brothers and sisters in Christ, is not simply for our collective benefit but so the world might see the power of the gospel bringing reconciliation to all kinds of relationships as we learn to love, serve, forgive, pray for, bless and encourage men, women and children (many who are not like us in any other way outside of the gospel). True Fellowship gives us a passion for mission because we have already seen how God has reconciled us to each other and there is always room for one more.
Worshipping God through the preaching of the scriptures, prayer and singing is not simply so we can feel good about ourselves and uplifted for the day. It is to remind us about the mission of God to save a people for himself through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus - As we sing of our redeemer, listen about our redeemer, pray for our redeemer, we are reminding each other about why Jesus came in the first place. Worship gives us the zeal to be on mission because we are passionately proclaiming the glory of God to the nations.
Our church does not want to simply be a fellowshipping, discipling or worshipping church. We want to be a church that is on mission - that lives out the life changing power of the gospel in our relationships, that is growing in the life changing power of the gospel in our discipleship and that is celebrating the life changing power of the gospel in our worship - so that every man, woman and child might have the repeated opportunity to see, hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ without having to come or go anywhere.
Mission ~ Missio ~ The church