A Body with No Head

Have churches and small groups replaced the incomparable Christ with something safer and smaller?
Page 2 of 3

For me, what makes a church truly "organic" is whether or not Christ is the living, breathing, and functional Head of that body of believers. I've defined an organic church as a group of people who are learning to live by Divine life together. The organic expression of the ekklesia naturally emerges when a group of Christians are enthralled with their Lord and are learning to live by him together.

A great many Bible studies and curriculum options used in small groups and Sunday schools seem to focus on topics or segments of Scripture, rather than Jesus. How can this be combated and corrected?

Paul said that he was called to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ." How often have we seen this done today? The only way I know how to combat it is for those who know the unsearchable riches of Christ in experience, who can mine Christ out of all the Scriptures, and who know him in the depths by revelation and suffering to declare him in a way that absolutely intoxicates others with their Lord.

To my mind, this is the role of those who are called to plant churches. It gets close to the meaning of laying no other foundation but Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3).

You say Christians shouldn't try to "mimic Jesus." Isn't it the goal of Christians to be "like Christ"?

I believe the goal of every Christian should be to fulfill God's eternal purpose. That purpose centers on God obtaining a bride for himself, a house for himself, a family for himself, and a body for himself.

Each of the above (bride, house, family, body) is a corporate expression of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that the Divine goal is not individualistic; it's corporate and collective. God wants a corporate people who are conformed to the image of his Son and who manifest him in the earth.

So the goal is not "trying" to "be like" Jesus the way it's commonly taught. To use the language of Galatians, the goal is to reveal Christ in us (1:16), to have Christ live out his life in us (2:20), and to have Christ formed in us (4:19). Notice the common word "in" there. All of this is corporate, as well, though it contains individual dimensions, of course.

You say in the book that Christians need to "get a fresh glimpse of your incomparable Lord, and you will be emboldened to stop spending your life on yourself." What does that actually look like?

It's when our spiritual eyes are opened to "behold" Jesus Christ in a way that wrecks us. Everything else doesn't seem so important anymore. They're all eclipsed by the sight of his stunning beauty and staggering glory. We are undone and left hungry and thirsty to love him and to know him in reality.

As the old hymn goes, "The look that melted Peter, the face that Stephen saw, the heart that wept with Mary, can alone from idols draw."

What specific changes do you hope to see in the contemporary church that would recover the revelation of Jesus Christ and result in the shaping of Christians into "walking, breathing Jesus Manifestos"?

If I can summarize, it hinges on the ministry of God's Word, which unveils the unsearchable riches of Christ to God's people and then shows them how to practically partake of Christ individually and corporately (see John 6:57).

This progresses into: 1) Churches having meetings where the members are equipped to function by sharing Christ with one another, so that he is put on display. 2) Churches having community life where the members are taking care of one another and being built together into the Head, who is Christ. And 3) Churches finding creative ways of manifesting Jesus to their communities as the Spirit leads.

free newsletter

Sign up for our free Small Groups Newsletter newsletter: Regular access to innovative training resources, Bible-based curriculum, and practical articles.


9 Ways to Help Group Members Take Ownership of Problems
The struggle is real—and we have to own it if we want to change.
How Is the Bible Changing You?
Assess how you've grown after completing a Bible study.
New Life
Easter reminds us that God offers us new life.
The Four-Step Discussion Method that Works for Any Study
This simple small-group format teaches disciples to obey God.
Four Keys to Transformational Discussions
Create an environment for life change with these simple tips.
Hungry for Transformation
Ruth Barton shares what it takes to experience life change in small groups.