Facilitating Healthy Church Identity

In this lesson, we want to understand the basics of the identity of the church.  When we speak about facilitating of the church, we are simply talking about the “bundling” of the harvest and helping this new group create its collective identity together.

Discovery Study

Read each of the following passages:

  1. 1 Peter 2:9-10
  2. 1 Peter 2:5
  3. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
  5. 1 Timothy 3:15

Question:  How does each passage describe the identity of the church?

Discuss this question together as a group and then click on this box and read the answer below.

1 Peter 2:9-10 describes the church as a nation, although there are some special things about this nation.  They were:

  1. Chosen.  God specifically chose this people to be his.  God has taken possession of this people.
  2. Given mercy.  As a result of being given mercy by God, they became a nation.  Prior to being given mercy, they were not a nation but God allowed the nation to be formed because of his mercy, not because of anything that they have done.
  3. They are a royal nation.  This means that they are royalty with connection to the king.  Jesus is the king within the Kingdom of God and these people, this nation, are connected to the king.
  4. They are a nation of priests.  They are servants of the most high God, carrying out his wishes.

1 Peter 2:5 describes the church as a type of house.  This house is spiritual in nature, with each piece being like a stone that collectively comes together to build the house.  It says that these stones are alive and are being built as a priesthood.  A priest serves God, so we are made to be servants of God, having been made holy for this work.  Everything that we do is for God, through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 describes the church as a body.  Specifically, we are referred to as the body of Christ.  Each part became part of the body through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and each person makes up a part of the body.  Some of the parts play one role and other parts play other roles.  No part of the body can or should tell another part of the body that it isn’t needed.  Instead, each part of the body is extremely important.  God himself gave gifts to the body to help build up the body.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 describes those that are in Christ in two ways:  First, it says that those that are in Christ are a new creation.  They have been made completely new as a result of being in Christ.

In addition, those that are in Christ have been made to be ambassadors.  God is sending his people out to be ambassadors, carrying his message of reconciliation with them to people all over the world.

1 Timothy 3:15 – The Apostle Paul has written to Timothy to tell him about how the church should conduct itself in the event that he is delayed in coming to Timothy.  Paul is saying that God is alive and is the foundation of all truth and his church has been given the truth of God upon which they can both lay a foundation and stand as a pillar within the world of deceit and lies.

Question:  What can we understand about the way that the church should operate based on each description of its identity in the passages above?

Discuss this question together as a group and then click on this box and read the answer below.

There are several things that we can learn about how the church should work based on these scriptures:

  • We have been made to be the church only by the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ.
  • Through God’s great love to show us mercy, we have individual identities in Christ as well as a collective identity as the church.  God intends that we live within both identities.  Our identity in Christ is not only found as an individual without the church community.  Neither is our identity found within the community without an individual connection with God through Jesus Christ.
  • In the same way that each part of a house, or each part of the body of a person is important, each person in the church plays an important part of the life of the church.
  • We are royalty.  Jesus is the king and our identity is found as part of God’s family with Jesus.
  • In addition, we are priests and servants of God.  As individuals and as a community, we are given gifts by God in order to serve and build up the church.
  • And finally, we are ambassadors.  Our job is to not only build up and encourage the church, those who are already saved, but also to take God’s message of reconciliation to a world that is lost.  God gives us, as his church, the truth of his word.  We must take his word to the world.