One of the things I love about my job is the diversity. I am a member of the ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church. My boss is a Deacon in his Southern Baptist Church. Our architects and designers are active members of Roman Catholic, Assemblies of God, and Non-Denominational Churches. Three weeks ago I preached at a Lutheran Church. We are currently working on a building project for a Cowboy Church. Our entire office is Christian, but we all worship at different churches on Sunday morning. But, our ministry of church architecture, design, construction, and security is openly cross-denominational. We are all different parts of one unified body.
In 1 Corinthians we read, "14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another."
Our ministry is to the entire body. It is disheartening when we encounter churches that only see value in parts of the body that look like them. We recently invited one denominational body to a church security seminar we were planning at a church of a different denomination. They informed us that they would only encourage their churches to participate if the event was held at one of "their" organization's churches. That response reminded me of this passage from 1 Corinthians. The material presented would be exactly the same, regardless of the name of the denomination on the sign out front. But, because this particular event was being held at the campus of a different denomination, one group was not willing to participate. "The body does not consist of one member but of many." "If all were a single member, where would the body be?" Our aim is "that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another."
One of the hallmarks of Christian ministry is the incorporation of many parts into one body. One of the things we encourage in every church we work with, whether we are conducting a security assessment, training volunteer teams, or designing a new worship facility, is to consider the true ministry needs of their church and to examine how they fit into the wider concept of many parts of one body.
What part of the body does your church play? And, how do you treat the other members of the body?
As I write this, I am still reeling from the presidential debate that I just witnessed 12 hours ago. I truly wonder how American Christians will treat other parts of the body. Can we model for the rest of the country "giving great honor" to other parts of the body and "having the same care for one another?" I have faith we can.