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The Church

Hands reaching towards the sky
The Church is the fellowship of all who are saved by grace.

The Church is the fellowship of all who are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

Membership in the body of Christ is not optional for believers: it is a reality given to all who know Christ, the head of the Church. We are invited into fellowship with God and with one another.

When we speak of the Church as the body of Christ, we mean that all believers are united with Christ, their head, and with one another as fellow members working in harmony.

Scripture teaches that every member of the body has an essential part to play if the whole is to function to the glory of God, and that without the presence and participation of every member, the body suffers.

The Church proclaims the message of the grace of God and invites people everywhere to become part of the family with those who have responded to God in faith.

Community

Sin brought division and deception into human relationships, so the restoration brings healing, honesty and love into those relationships. The Church is the fellowship in which we learn to risk being vulnerable to one another because, on the cross, Christ conquered sin by making himself vulnerable for our sakes.

An integral part of the Church’s mission is to continue the ministry of Christ. It passes on the Gospel from one generation to another. While under the authority of Scripture and led by the Spirit, the Christian community provides an agreed interpretation that ensures the preservation of the Gospel message.

The Church is one, though diverse in its expressions. Differing over certain matters, Christians are united in proclaiming Christ as the only Lord and Saviour, and the Church preserves a tradition of worship and devotion that originated with the first Christians and their response to the risen Lord.

All Christians are called constantly to pursue and express the unity God gives to his people.

The Church is created by the Holy Spirit for fellowship

Together we are God’s household and family as we abide in Christ and him in us. This community is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he who enables us to gather in fellowship as one.

The importance of such fellowship can hardly be overestimated. Within this community we experience healing, help and happiness. As Christians we make our spiritual journey as part of a company.

The Church is created by the Holy Spirit for healing

The Holy Spirit enables us to care for each other, to respond to one another’s hurts and to experience healing. Through the congregation, the Spirit supports us in times of trial or loss. As we are being made holy and are helped and healed, we discover that the Church is a community of deep joy which no one can take from us.

The Church is created by the Holy Spirit for nurture

Within the Christian fellowship the Holy Spirit enables us to build each other up in the faith, to instruct, to bear each other’s burdens, to encourage, forgive, celebrate, share, comfort and challenge one another.

Such strong support helps us to grow in Christ-likeness and holiness.

The Church is created by the Holy Spirit to equip for ministry and mission

In the congregation we discover and use our individual gifts for ministry and mission. Each member of the body of Christ receives gifts for ministry and is called by God to develop and use them for the benefit of all. As we deploy our gifts in ministry and mission, God is glorified.

The Church gathers that it may be sent out in mission

The Church is not a self-absorbed society brought together for security and socialising. It is a fellowship that releases its members for mission. The Holy Spirit creates the Church not only for our benefit, but also to make our witness and mission possible.

The Holy Spirit empowers the whole Church for witness

We are all called to live holy lives in the world and to see ourselves as set apart to be ministers or servants of the Gospel. All Christians are called to share in the ministry.

As members of Christ’s church we are all engaged in mission to the whole person and the whole world through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • Source: abridged from ‘Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine’, Salvation Army International Headquarters, London 1988