In his marvelous and meticulous book, Art in Action, Nicholas Wolterstorff offers a concise summary of the identity of the church as the “community of those who have taken up the call of God to work on His behalf in His cause of renewing human existence.”
Wolterstorff outlines the calling of the church in terms of a fourfold task: to witness, work for, embody, and proclaim the kingdom of God (paragraph breaks added):
“The task in history of the people of God, the church, the followers of Jesus Christ, is in the first place to witness to God’s work of renewal, to the coming of His Kingdom—to speak of what God has done and is doing for the renewal of human existence.
Its task is, secondly, to work to bring about renewal by serving all men everywhere in all dimensions of their existence, working for the abolition of evil and joylessness and for the incursion into human life of righteousness and shalom.
Thirdly, it is called to give evidence in its own existence of the new life, the true, authentic life—to give evidence in its own existence of what a political structure without oppression would be like, to give evidence in its own existence of what scholarship devoid of jealous competition would be like, to give evidence in its own existence of what a human community that transcends while yet incorporating national diversity would be like, to give evidence in its own existence of what an art that unites rather than divides and of what surroundings of aesthetic joy rather than aesthetic squalor would be like, to give evidence in its own existence of how God is rightly worshipped.
And then lastly it is called to urge all men everywhere to repent and believe and join this people of God in the world.”