Pastoring in this pandemic has been challenging for me and I have personally been praying that God would give me a real sense of what we call fellowship. What I have come to realize is that I have always thought fellowship and the Church was all about being in a building. I needed God to broaden my understanding to realize that church buildings are places built out of brick and mortar, but they are not the church.

My guess is the distinction between the body of Christ and our buildings is one that many of our people are really struggling with right now. Brick and mortar buildings are not difficult to find with your GPS. Being the church, on the other hand, is full of challenges for Believers as we live through a health pandemic as well as a racial/social pandemic.

Many of our people, maybe many of us, have  looked for God in buildings where He does not dwell. God’s real dwelling place is in us.

In Matthew 16, Jesus declares, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Then in Matthew 28, Jesus hands the church its mission statement and its purpose for existence when He gives the disciples the Great Commission to share His word and His teachings with all cultures, all people of all colors, and to all people groups. As His church we are called to that same Great Commission, because it is the church in us that compels us to share Jesus Christ with everyone we talk with, eat dinner with, have friendships and family functions with.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that, “God has arranged the parts in the body and there are many parts, but one body.” God has ordained the church to be a fellowship of imperfect people who He has put together for His purpose and who He inspires and instructs by His Spirit to carry out His Will and to live lives under the authority of His Word. 

As pastors and church leaders, we cannot forget the mission to be Christ-like examples within our culture. As members of the Body of Christ, we must understand that we walk in strength because only as much as we stay connected to one another under one church. God has designed His church to walk in Christ Power. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:13-14, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also, is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

I am reminded of what Charles Spurgeon once said that always gives me great encouragement. He said, “It is the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.” We must NOT be divided by race, class, or  culture. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” God establishes the power of our unity in the church and we must not allow division of any kind to distract us from God’s Mission for His Church. 

In these past months, God has helped me understand that He wants our fellowship to be of one spiritual mind that is being moved by one divine purpose. The Church’s love for God must show itself in having loving connections with other people who don’t look alike, not from meeting in a building. 1 John 4:20 reminds us that, “Anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

As pastors and church leaders, Let us always remember that the church is bigger than our buildings. Let us remind our people of the same during these trying times.

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Ed Harris
Edward D. Harris, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Christ Power Church & Ministries, an urban church-ministry whose vision is to minister to the real needs of people with the authentic love and power that is found only in Jesus Christ. Pastor Ed has served as a guest speaker at the World Mission Conference and the Association of Christian School International Leadership Conference. He has been a contributing clergy member in the EFCA Today magazine featured story entitled, “Before We Say I Do” discussing the role of premarital counseling. God gave him the vision for his church-ministry in 2006 and he has serve in the work of ministry for 20+ years preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is married to Sheli Harris and they have two sons.

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