We often teach that the Church (with a big “C”) is the Body of Christ, united in the one Spirit. But why does the Church exist?
Justice and Mission
While this blog focuses on the Narrative Lectionary Bible passages during the program year, I branch out on other topics related to faith formation during the summer. Over the past five weeks, I have reflected on the topic of biblical justice (the image of God, shalom, building resilience, long-term love, and God’s kingdom).
Now I’m moving to a shorter series on the mission of the Church (and churches). This week, I’m asking the easy question: why does the Church exist?
The Church vs. the church
This might be basic for you, but I differentiate between the Church (with a capital “C”) and church (with lowercase “c”). The lowercase version, church, refers to what we often think about when we hear about church: a local gathering of Christians who often have a building and worship together. I prefer using the term “congregation,” but it means the same thing.
However, many Christians believe that there is something more than a particular congregation in a certain place and at a certain time. All believers are connected into a body that spans all of time and space. In fact, it’s not just a body, but the Body, the Body of Christ.
What Is the Church?
The teaching about the Body of Christ (the Church) comes from 1 Corinthians 12:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.1 Corinthians 12:27
The individual believers are united by the one Holy Spirit that dwells in us all. What does this mean? As I have heard before, this means that church is not just something you do, it is something you are.
Why Does the Church Exist?
In a general sense, the Church is the mystical union of individual believers. This means that the Church doesn’t exist because we decided that it would be a good idea. It exists because God wills it. But that doesn’t answer the question: why?
This is a very complex topic; there’s even a branch of theology for it: ecclesiology. Put very simply, the Body exists to be something and do something. The being (or receiving if you prefer) is about what God has done for us. God has made us beloved children: forgiven and reconciled.
When it comes to doing, that’s where our mission (or commission) comes in. In the next two posts, I will divide this mission into two interwoven parts: the inner mission and the outer mission.
Why Does YOUR Congregation Exist?
We will dig into this more in the next two posts as well, but it’s a question that any organization should ask occasionally. Why does your congregation exist, and how does that correspond with the mission of the Church?
Blessings to you as you do your ministry,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
VBS, Summer, and 2022-2023 Faith Formation Resources
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we have many resources for your faith formation needs:
- Learning Together: Five-lesson topical units for VBS, Sunday school, children, and intergenerational classes.
- Resources for the Narrative Lectionary (products for all ages)
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (intergenerational classroom)
- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Worship and Liturgy Education