The New Testament has two big illustrations that it uses for the church. One of them is the sheep and the shepherd. The other is the body or bride of Christ.
The Assembly of the Body
The first thing to realize about the body is that God the Father is the one that put it together1. He put them in the body as He saw fit for His purposes.
Why is this radical? Because we tend to think that we chose a specific church, and we also tend to look at a church as to what I can get out of it, rather than how God can use me in it.
The Empowering of the Body
The Spirit is the gift that is received at salvation, and it is He that empowers you through gifts to accomplish the work of the Father.
The Spirit works through the reading of the Bible and prayer so that you can hear God speak, and grow your relationship with God.
The Leadership of the Body
Christ is the head of the church—which we covered in our last post—but it is He that is supposed to be leading, guiding and directing. He uses the pastor and those in the church to give His direction to His people, but all decisions should start with “What does Christ want us to do?”
Every Part of the Body is Important
A Little History
When I was the Chairman of the Deacons a few years back, and our new Pastor wanted help coming up with a new Constitution one area that I thought needed work (in particular) was how we dealt with membership. See, we’d just come through a rough patch, and had many people on our roles that were not attending, did not want to talk with us, and I figured they should just be removed.
Our old (then current) Constitution gave them a few services to miss and then they were unceremoniously dropped off the roles. No questions, no contacting them, they were just removed.
In our new one, we thought we were being generous by adding to the time that they had to miss, adding a requirement that they be contacted in writing/in person, and then having a vote.
The problem is that we (wrongly, I now believe) thought we were the ones that decided who would be part of our body and they were done being a part.
Who Adds Members?
Biblically, if God is the one that adds members, it is only He that can take them somewhere else. When someone comes into membership, they are becoming part of the body:
- We are commanded to hurt when they hurt.
- We are commanded to bear their burdens.
- We are commanded to love them.
So if someone’s not attending our church, and God has not given them another body to be a part of, what is our duty to them? To drop them off the roles?
I’m coming around to the concept that if a member is not at our church services, they either need to be transferred or church disciplined.
We are a body, we are responsible, right?