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What Does the Church as the Body of Christ Mean?

A local church congregation brings together people who share the same faith within the community. However, when we talk about the Church as the body of Christ, we are referring to people from various backgrounds and social statuses coming together with the mission to worship and serve. Like the parts of the human body, every believer plays a different role with a unique and important function. 

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”—1 Corinthians 12:12

This verse emphasizes that while every church member is different in their background and role, we are all united as believers in Christ who join together to fulfill a shared mission.

Church Congregation vs. Church as the Body of Christ

Many people assume these concepts mean the same thing. Even believers can get them confused. However, the Church as the body of Christ differs from the local church congregation. Learning the difference will deepen your understanding and help you achieve spiritual growth.

Mission and Purpose

Every church of Christ has a mission tailored to its specific local context and needs. Local churches, for example, focus on serving the practical and spiritual needs within their community.

On the other hand, the body of Christ aims to bring salvation by glorifying God and sharing His Word. The body of Christ relies on local church congregations to spread that mission throughout the world.

Scope and Scale

A local church congregation holds gatherings within a specific location or church. The believers congregate for fellowship, worship, and other spiritual activities. However, the Church as the body of Christ breaks geographic boundaries and transcends physical locations. It encompasses believers worldwide and brings together people of different backgrounds and cultures in one faith.

Leadership

A local congregation follows a typical leadership and governance structure. Pastors and various church leaders oversee church activities, both on the spiritual and administrative side.

Meanwhile, the body of Christ is the ultimate “head.” It requires the local church leadership to spread its mission while following biblical principles.

While the people who govern them differ, the Lord is the head of all these churches.

Diversity

Diversity is a shared trait among individual churches and the greater the body of Christ. However, the level of diversity is where they differ, as the latter consists of various social statuses, cultures, and other characteristics. It aligns with the doctrine mentioned in Galatians 3:28.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”—Galatians 3:28

Interconnectedness

Due to the difference in physical and geographical boundaries, connections among members within the local church and body of Christ also vary. Local churches are typically involved in outreach efforts and ministries that benefit the community. The body of Christ, on the other hand, uses the contributions of every church in spreading the Word of God worldwide.

This explains why Paul scattered churches wherever he went.

“So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”—Acts 14:23

Why We Need the Church as the Body of Christ

Diverse group of young people holding one another in prayer.

The Church as the Body of Christ is a universal symbol of God’s love that should be nurtured by church members and believers for the following reasons:

 

  • Connecting with others

 

The emphasis on building relationships and a sense of connectedness is integral to the growth of the Church as the body of Christ. Without it, it’s easy for church members to step away from the congregation and lose the embers of their spiritual faith.

Connecting with others for Bible study and community service enriches our commitment to the faith and makes us accountable to each other. As Hebrews 10:23 states, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

 

  • Fostering spiritual growth

 

Building relationships with other church members provides a unique wisdom-sharing opportunity and spiritual growth. A weaker faith can be strengthened by gaining the mentorship of seasoned believers. It can help in navigating the complex challenges of growing one’s faith.

 

  • Building unity in diversity

 

Church members, especially in the larger Church, vary in values, beliefs, and cultures. Partaking in the Body of Christ is an opportunity to unite despite our differences. It encourages believers to reconcile those differences and forge a united world glued together by the Gospel.

God Asks Us to Protect the Body of Christ

In the same way exercise strengthens and protects the human body, our actions play a role in protecting the body of Christ. When “every part does its share,” we grow the body for the “edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16). Believers must stay true to their roles to come together in unity and glorify God.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”Ephesians 4:1-6

But how do we protect the Church as the body of Christ?

Community Engagement

Gathering together as a community is crucial in protecting the Church as the body of Christ. Actively engaging in church activities helps members serve others, strengthen faith, and build relationships within the community. It also makes the church more capable of promoting social justice and advancing God’s purpose in the community.

Assembling with other believers is not limited to the confines of the church. There are other ways to congregate with people, especially in small group settings. Meeting with one another ensures we are protected from the enemy and bolstered in our faith.

Community Outreach

Strengthening the Church as the body of Christ involves discipleship. Thus, engaging in outreach efforts helps spread God’s gospel and fulfill His mission.

We are called to identify faith gaps and address those issues. In doing so, we can bring more people into a relationship with God. This approach helps forge connections for Him and the good of all.

Stewardship

Stewardship in protecting the church takes on many forms. It can refer to managing the church, protecting God’s name, and spreading His wisdom to others. However, it also refers to protecting the resources given to the church by the community. Honesty and transparency can make good stewards of each church member.

Spiritual Vigilance

Promoting regular prayer and devotion helps every church member to stay grounded. Church leaders emphasize the value of applying biblical principles in church practices and our daily lives.

Preservation of Biblical Truth

Encouraging theological education promotes discipleship among every member. This approach also deepens one’s faith in God. Further, it ensures that their activities and beliefs align with biblical truth.

How to Get Involved in the Church as the Body of Christ

As part of the local ministry and the Church as the body of Christ, each believer must contribute to forging the faith. It’s part of your discipleship once you become a dedicated church member.

There are various ways to partake in biblical community that can help strengthen the Church as the body of Christ.

1 ) Join Regular Worship Services

The main duty of Christ’s believers is to attend regular worship services. However, it also encourages active engagement in other church activities, such as community outreach programs and fellowship gatherings. By worshiping together, we foster the bond that ties to our relationship with God.

2 ) Participate in Bible Studies

Partaking in church activities kindles the fire for discipleship with God. However, studying God’s Word with other church members is vital. It helps us grow in faith together and speak the Word of God into our lives.

Bible study sessions help us see what God’s Word means in our lives and how we can apply it to make an impact on ourselves and others.

3 ) Serve the Ministry and Community

The ultimate form of discipleship is to selflessly serve the ministry and the community where it belongs. We can do this by volunteering our time and effort to support those in need, fight injustices, and do other acts of discipleship. We already have the example of God, and we can use that to serve others.

Takeaway

Strengthen your faith in God and the Church as the body of Christ by being an active participant. It benefits both the body and us personally when we meet and socialize with each other to deepen our connection with God.

Remember that physical boundaries are not an issue in nurturing faith. You can participate in online worship, sermons, and more at Abundant Life. Join our live stream to establish a sense of community with fellow believers!