I grew up in church after becoming a follower of Christ at a young age. Ever since I have embraced supreme confidence in the gospel. I know that Jesus Himself established the church—His body—and gave it the task of spreading the message the world desperately needs to hear.

I thought surely it would only be a matter of time until people understood this. Yet, it hasn’t seemed to work out the way I expected. Ever since my youthful decision, I believe the church has steadily diminished in influence. This has taken place even as Christians as a whole have grown more vocal, affluent, organized, and polished.

Beneath the surface, I believe the church has a biological problem. Over the years, the more I learned as a practicing physician, the more I came to view the body of Christ as a living body. In my opinion, the reason for our shortcomings lies in a faulty view of who we really are. The way we see ourselves holds far-reaching implications for our relationships with each other.

The body of Christ is not intended to function as a business or fraternal organization. God did not create the “business of Christ.” He created the “body of Christ.” He describes us in the Bible with terms associated with biology, not with business or organizational language.

The modern church is often enthralled with charismatic personalities. But if the body of Christ is a living body, it does not become alive and effective through the dazzling abilities or supernatural insights of individual leaders. This only happens through relationships between its members.

As I studied this matter further, I saw two foundational errors we often make.

* The first is to think of “the body of Christ” as just another name for the organized church. The organized church can do many good things, but it is not the body of Christ. Of course, there is overlap between the two, but organized religion is designed to operate as an organization, not as a living body. Understanding this distinction helps explain much of the seeming feebleness of the modern-day church. 

* The second error is operating the church like a business. We have tried to make the church more effective by relying on entrepreneurial expertise. Just look at the influential (and often wealthy) people asked to sit on many church boards.

Generally speaking, the church has become good at raising money. We have implemented the best practices of the business world, creating well-crafted budgets and developing and executing finely-tuned marketing campaigns. But how much have we relied on the Holy Spirit?

Sure, we sometimes acknowledge our dependence on Jesus. But too often this means paying lip service to Christ as we decorate our plans with spiritual lingo. In truth, we are consumed by worldliness. We are trying to outdo the world in using the ways of the world.

In place of that, I suggest we learn to function as a body, one driven by mutual concern, love, and affection for each other. With a different outlook and philosophy, we can be the change the world is dying to see.