The Bible uses a number of different images to show what the church is, these include a building (Ephesians 2:21; Hebrews 3:6), a bride (Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 19:6-8), a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16) and a body. When the apostle Paul writes about the church being a body, in the first letter to the Corinthian church, he is not intending to give a lesson in anatomy, rather he describes who the church is and how we should work together.
“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body.”1 Corinthians 12:18-20
The wonderful thing about this particular picture is that we can all relate to it, we all have a body and understand how it works. We know intuitively that our bodies have different parts, each performing different functions: the ears for listening, the mouth for speaking, the feet for walking, the arms for throwing. Yet, we also experience the unity of our bodies too. Think about a simple task like kicking a football, our brain passing instructions to move our muscles, aligning our body with the ball and help us keep our balance. Each part working together to a single goal. Its quite marvellous really.
That is what the church is to be too, a body, with many members, working together for purpose. The church is not a building, or an institution but a body made up of people with different gifts, different talents, different characters, different roles joined together and part of one another. We are not just any body, but the Body of Christ himself! It is the life of Christ that draws us together, holds us together and strengthens us. We are privileged to be part of the Salt & Light Advance family of churches which is the main way that we are connected into the wider body of Christ.
So, when we gather we prioritise building relationship with one another, we prioritise participation and community life. In practice this means that we often each together because that builds and deepens relationships. When we gather we value participation, which means that different people contribute to our gatherings. This can be in a variety of ways including prayer, reading & teaching the bible, exercising spiritual gifts, encouragements and in many other ways too.