a. The genius of the body of Christ and the importance of relationships within it.
Understanding this genius, we begin to grasp the importance of the role of membership fidelity in maturing and prospering the church.
b. A building?
“Here’s the church and there’s the steeple, open it up and there’s the people.”
More than perception, rooted in our culture is the idea that the church is a building. “I’m going to church”. We call the building where we worship “the church”.
c. “The people”?
A second common perception is that the church is the people who gather. This is closer to Biblical reality—but what people?
Many view the church as a social club. They join the church in the same way they join a country club, Kiwanis, or Rotary. This view downplays the significance of the church’s importance in a person’s life. It is only there to provide status, programming and services such as weddings and funerals.
Changing churches, then, has to do with keeping up with the Joneses or upholding ethnic and cultural norms rather than being a part of a living reality.
d. A denomination?
Which is the true Christian church, the building or the people—or is it a denomination that holds the right to the title “the church’?
e. The Biblical Model
In the New Testament the term is ekklesia (church or assembly) literally “the called-out ones” It appears 111 times. 73 times it is referring to the gathering of people, but never does it refer to a building.
It is a gathering of God’s people which Ephesians calls the church or the “Body of Christ.” Those that have been born again into a “new and living hope.”
The church as a congregation is first pictured in the Book of Acts 2:42-47 where it tells us that those who responded to Peter’s message of repentance were filled with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and gathered together, meeting from house to house and followed the apostle’s teaching, had fellowship and prayer.
Paul describes the “Body” in Corinthians comparing it to the human body, with the Head of the Body, being Christ. I Cor. 12 14, 18, 25 describes that body has having many different parts and God has “arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”