Church is not a building; it is a community of faithful people who recognize who Jesus is and have given their lives to him (1 Cor. 12:12-13). The church of Jesus Christ is a universal body of believers who are associated and united by their commitment to him. Local congregations are geographical representations of the universal Body of Christ (1 Cor. 1:12; Rev. 2,3) and exist to help others understand Christ and become disciples throughout the world. Christians should seek to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth in the same way that Jesus did: with peace in the spirit of love and truth.
Despite our belonging to the people of God, the church is terribly flawed and continues to make egregious mistakes. Christians freely admit this but are nevertheless compelled to continue working at being a more loving and Christ centered group of believers. We do our best, but we do not claim to perfectly represent or reflect our perfect God. It is always a mistake to judge God by the actions and words of his flawed followers. When people do evil, they are simply not following Jesus regardless of what and who they call themselves. We seek to follow Jesus with every fiber of our being, but we are not perfect.
Absolutely no one is prevented from belonging to the church because of their past, their race, gender, nationality, economic status, political disposition, sexual orientation or any other category. Anyone can respond to Jesus, ask him to be their King and belong to his church.
While the invitation is for everyone, it means something important. It is a big deal. Belonging to the church means that members place themselves under the authority of Christ and thus seek to deny themselves when their personal preferences and genetics might otherwise run contrary to the will and teaching of Jesus.The New Testament speaks of the church as the body of Christ, therefore it is inappropriate to participate in evil while claiming membership with his body.
The “church” includes all people who have followed Jesus throughout history. These faithful women and men are referred to as “the saints” and present believers are included in that category. In our present contexts, this universal church takes shape in the form of a local congregation, which is also referred to as “the church.”
I want to belong to a local congregation and expression of the church that belongs to all believers across all times and Christian denominations. Anyone who follows Jesus is a member of his church.