Some of us believe that evangelism–i.e., the spiritual transformation of unbelievers–is what the church should desire most of all. So we feel evangelism should be the focus of all the church does. We feel we should win our lost neighbors to Jesus, then teach them to win their lost friends to Jesus. If the Church of God accomplishes nothing else (the argument goes), we must accomplish this.

The personal transformation of repentance and conversion is eternally important. But does the Bible say that evangelism is what the church is all about? Or even what it’s primarily about?

Actually, no.

Paul writes that Christ established the church “to prepare God‘s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:12-13).

Christ established the church for the spiritual transformation of believers. It is all about Christian formation: Christ living within us, so that we have the character of Christ and act like Christ in all of our relationships. In other words, the church is all about the life of Christian holiness.

We do need to reach the lost and call unbelievers to Christ. That’s a natural outflow of the transformed life. But if we’re not becoming like Jesus, we won’t be about the work of evangelism, no matter how deeply we feel we ought to be.

I don’t want to start an argument about the primacy of priorities (“Evangelism is most important.” “No, discipleship is most important.”), but challenge us to get serious about our priorities: What kind of transformation do we desire? What kind of transformation are we facilitating and resourcing?

It had better be “to prepare God’s people for work of service.” Our people ought to be “built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.” More than the warm fuzzy feeling of spiritual complacency, we should desire to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

That’s the transformation Christ raised up His Church to accomplish. Is that spiritual transformation of believers evident in our congregations?