The Church is a Family
Acts 2:42-47 – All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Romans: 12:4-5 – In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
1 Timothy 3:14-15 – You will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the Church of the Living God.
Romans 8:15-16 – The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Hebrews 2:11 – Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
All Christians have the right to call God Father and Jesus Brother, which makes us brothers and sisters! You can pick your friends but you are stuck with your family—it’s not a matter of our choice. If you are in God’s family, everywhere God has a child, you have a brother or a sister.
The word “Church” is used in two ways in the Bible: (1) the universal Church—all the saved everywhere; and (2) the local congregation of believers. It’s kind of like talking about your extended family that is scattered over hundreds of miles and many generations, and your immediate family living in one house or town. Every Christian is automatically part of the universal Church. They become part of the family at birth. You must choose to become a part of the local church family by making a decision to enter into fellowship with a certain group of Christians. We operate on the basis of relationships, not rules. We must be able to trust one another to be there for each other. We need each other’s support and involvement for the family to be healthy and productive.
When we think about the church as a family we should think about belonging: I belong to other people and other people belong to me. I am not alone in this world. I do not live for or to myself.
The Church is a BODY
Ephesians 4:11-16 – …so that the body of Christ may be built up.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27 – Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Ephesians 1:22-23 - And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the Church, which is his body.
We are a body. Christ is the head. The body doesn’t go off and do it’s own thing—it takes orders from the head. If a part of the body begins to do things that the head doesn’t tell it to do, that body becomes sick. If part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts.
One of the most important aspects of the church being a body is that every person in the church is valuable and has a role to play. However, to be a functioning part of Christ’s body, you have to be in relationship to the rest of the body through a local congregation. You may be a part of Christ’s universal body, but to be a functioning part you must be connected to the body through fellowship with a local church.
When we think about the church as a body we should think about function: I have a job to do, a ministry to perform. God has gifted me specifically to do the ministry he calls me to do.
The Bible describes the Church as the body of Christ continuing the work of Jesus in the world. As his family, we are Christ to the world today. Obviously, none of us can fully represent Jesus. However, collectively we can. Each of us reflects some part of Jesus and together we can represent him nearly completely.
At Central we take the matter of church membership very seriously because the church has an important purpose. If you are a child of God, then you are a member of God’s universal church (family, body). Not all members of God’s universal Church are members at Central (though they are extended family). To be a member of God’s universal Church means making a commitment to Jesus. To become a member of Central means you are making a commitment to this congregation. At Central, we do not expect any more of our members than the New Testament tells us any church should expect of its members. So, at the very least, we do expect a real commitment.
We consider all baptized believers who share the Christian faith and a commitment to godly lives to be brothers and sisters in Christ, and we welcome them to become members at Central, joining with us in a lifelong dedication to selfless service to the eternal praise and glory of God.