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 (Manna 47: The Body of Christ)
A Warm Church
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A WarmChurch

Audrey Chan — Leichester, United Kingdom

I remember going on holiday to the United States some years ago. As with most holidays, there was a lot of travelling involved and an obligation to fit in as much sight-seeing as time would allow.

It was good that it was punctuated with a visit to a local church for a service. The atmosphere was lovely, and the brothers and sisters were genuinely welcoming and friendly. Sitting in the chapel and taking part in the services, I felt I had come home.

Now, as I reflect on that experience and others since that time, I feel that the climate of a church is so important. A warm church is a good place for the congregation and is also welcoming to friends searching for the truth. It is an indication that all is well in the community of faith, the members are at peace with one another, and everyone has the resources and capacity to extend their love to others.

Every local church can be a warm church. There is no secret—it is merely about each of us having an awareness of who we are, and making time to grow close, to be proactive, and to show love.

An awareness of who we are

I grew up in a church where members made a habit of calling each other ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’. I think this is a good practice because each time we say these words, we are reminded that we are members of the same family and that we belong to the household of God (Eph 2:19).

When we take time to reflect, it is truly amazing that we, as a group of people from such diverse backgrounds, can come together. In other circumstances, we might never have met. But because of the perfect gospel and the precious blood of Jesus Christ, we are joined as a community of faith (Acts 20:28). We have great things in common, sharing all the ‘ones’ that the apostle Paul famously talks about in his letter to the Ephesians: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father (Eph4:4-6).

Whether we celebrate each other’s company or merely tolerate one another depends on whether we have an awareness of our special identity. If the former, then this melting pot of personalities, cultures, and backgrounds will have no problems brewing harmony and love.

Fortunately, God has given us time to practice and to get things right. As we worship and serve God together, we should be mindful to not only focus on the act or task at hand. For running in parallel is a lesson in interpersonal relationships—a lesson that challenges us to develop Christ-like qualities such as patience, forbearance, humility, and respect for others (Eph 4:2-3; Phil 2:1-4).

One day, and by the grace of God, all the hard work and practicing will end, as we go together to the heavenly kingdom. This is both a joyous and a sobering thought—reminding us to live out the family spirit here on earth, for there will come a time when we will spend an eternity together.

Making time to grow close

Last year, a national UK survey confirmed findings of what many people had long suspected: church attendance within the general Christian community in the UK is at an all-time low, and professing belief in God while opting out of active church attendance is now officially the norm rather than the exception. Increasingly, people do not see the need to fellowship and bond together in the faith.

The church is part of God’s gracious plan for us, and it is an important resource for all to access. By coming together in fellowship, we can offer and receive encouragement and teaching (Heb ), and we can grow together spiritually. Isolated faith and lone journeys do not have a place in God’s plan.

In fact, God never intended for each of His believers to walk alone on the journey of faith. Every Christian needs encouragement and support. Moreover, a lone Christian can be vulnerable to attacks from the devil (1 Pet 5:8).

When we read the book of Acts, which gives an account of the development of the early church, we are left with a distinct impression of a community that thrived on fellowship. Members took hold of every opportunity to not only worship in the temple, but also to spend time together breaking bread in each other’s homes (Acts ). God rewarded their unity of spirit by adding to their numbers on a daily basis.

Today’s church will do well to take lessons from the early church. It needs to foster opportunities for its members to grow in Christ and to grow together in unity. It can do this by creating different ways for worship and fellowship that are responsive to the needs of local congregations.

There is a place for formal services, but there also needs to be opportunities for smaller scale and informal gatherings where members can study the Bible together, pray, share the grace of God, and discuss the ministry of the church.

Fellowship is foremost about worship, but it is also an opportunity for members to develop good communication, mutual understanding, and a family spirit.

Being Proactive

Being proactive is a key ingredient for a warm church. It is where members have a realization that they are not guests or strangers, but rather fellow citizens in the household of God (Eph ). Their actions show that they understand what needs to be done, and that their role counts. There is no need for coaxing and pushing, for everyone is happy and willing to play an active part in church life.

We can all make a conscious effort to be proactive. The basic requirement is to have the heart to serve God, and to ask God continually to inspire us to do so. Then we open our ears and eyes to anticipate and to see what needs to be done.

Members don’t always have to be proactive on a grand scale. It can be manifested in the smallest of ways—the greeting of a visitor who enters the chapel for the first time, opening a door for someone, or offering a listening ear to someone who has had a difficult week. At the other end of the scale, it might entail volunteering when there is a need for workers in various aspects of the church ministry.

Being proactive may sometimes take courage, especially if it involves paving a culture change within a local church. But with God’s help, one good action will spark another—potentially igniting the whole church.

Leading By Example

Leadership is also important where key workers have a vital role to play, both in fostering an environment that build up proactive members and by leading the exemplary way (1 Pet 5:3). If leadership wasn’t important, the Bible would not include specifications for good ministers (cf. Acts 6:3; Tit 1:7-8).

The adage, “actions speak louder than words” was Apostle Peter’s encouragement to key workers to set a good example for the congregation (1 Pet 5:3), for often the congregation will take its cue from the leaders of the church. The latter, therefore, are key players in developing a healthy Christ-like culture within the church for fellowship.

How sad if workers were to carry out their appointed tasks, however avidly, but with indifference to the members. It would be a case of missing the point.

Showing love

Within the church, there are members who are rich and members who are poor; some who have generally peaceful lives and others who have more than their share of problems; and some with good mental and physical health while others are without. This diversity of circumstances gives plentiful opportunities for the Christian community to show love. For if everyone was the same, there would be little or no reason to extend our helping hand.

The Bible reminds us that we are all one body in Christ and calls us to love one another without partiality (Eph 4:4; 1 Jn 4:7; Jas 2:1-5). We all know this in theory, but this is probably one of the most challenging aspects of Christian living.

Life is busy, time always seems short, and showing love—properly showing love—can be demanding on our schedule, energy, patience, or more. It is often easier to live our own separate lives and assure ourselves that we will do good when we have more resources.

Yet the Bible urges us that the time to show love is now. It teaches us to not only look out for our own interests, but for the interests of others (Phil 2:4). It inspires us to actively do good to our brethren and to not grow tired in doing so (Gal 6:9-10).

And there is a reward for those who show love unconditionally to the community of faith: they will grow spiritually and learn the truth of what Jesus meant when He said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Act ). The fact is, showing love is evidence that God’s grace is more than sufficient in our lives, and it is also evidence that we realize we can only love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).

The early church applied love in very practical ways. It shared its wealth, helped widows, practiced hospitality, and gave aid to poorer congregations (Acts 2:44-47, 4:32-35, 6:1-6, 9:36-42, 11:27-30; Phm 7; 1 Cor:1-3). From their example, we understand that love is literally not in word or speech, but in deed and in truth (1 Jn ).


Every local church can be a warm church. It just needs everyone working together to make it happen. The end results are rewarding.

A warm church is good for the congregation because everyone can feel what it’s like to be in God’s family—an anticipation of what is to come in the heavenly kingdom.

It is also positively good for evangelism. Friends seeking the truth will come into our midst and be drawn by both the gospel and by our works of love, which is the gospel in action. They will see that we love one another and that we belong to Christ (Jn -35), and they will want to be part of this wonderful community.

What a powerful way to preach.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church