What is “the Church?”- Part 1

As stated yesterday, I’ve been involved in a great number of conversations over the years about church leadership, administration, function, roles and responsibilities of leaders, etc.  Often in those discussions when we get down to the nitty-gritty, something like this is stated: “The church is not a business.”

What I hear in that phrase is a cautious warning to not employ the things that make a business successful to the church.  From the 30,000 foot level I agree; technically, the Church is NOT a business.  Lately, my response has been, “You’re right, the Church is the Body of Christ.”  What I mean by that is that we are more important than a business.  There is more at stake then providing shareholders a financial profit.  Quoting Emil Brunner again:

The church is really two entities.  A spiritual community which administers healing, reconciliation and salvation.  And, the church is an organizational entity that requires skillful and knowledgeable administration.”

Brunner is stating a fact.  There are two separate parts of the body of Christ.  The first part of this Body is to administer the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the hurting.  The word administer has a few definitions, there is “manage and be responsible for the running of (a business, organization, etc)”, “dispense or apply (a remedy or drug)” and finally, “give help or service.”.  It is the LATTER two that is the spiritual “entity” of the church.

Simply put, we are to administer healing, reconciliation and salvation by  dispensing, applying and giving help and service to people in need. It is critical that we understand the role of the church here.  This is, first and foremost, a spiritual need.  We are to meet spiritual needs.

However, the church has a second entity, or, part.  It is that second part, that of administration that is the “how” to the spiritual part.  Here is where the first definition of the word “administer” is key”: manage and be responsible for.  The dispensing of help, reconciliation and salvation, unfortunately does not just happen.  This dispensing must, indeed, be managed.

We’ve established that in order to dispense what is needed from a spiritual standpoint, there must be a structure in place to do so.  In my next post, we will look at the sixth chapter of Acts and see how the early church lived this out practically.


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