In creating man in His image, our triune God created man with three defined, but interwoven aspects within a person’s being. A man’s wholeness includes his spirit, soul, and body. (i.e. “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 1 Thess. 5:23). Therefore, if we want to be a church that draws people into deeper fellowship with Christ and relationship with one another, we need to be a church that ministers to all three components within a man.
People may use a different phraseology to define these three attributes, or parts, of a man. But, for the purpose of this lesson, I will define these as:
- Spirit – man’s perpetual being; that is his need for everlasting salvation through Christ, fellowship with Christ, and spiritual growth in Christ
- Soul – the “heart” of a man; or his mind, will, emotions, reasoning skills, conscious awareness, desires, etc.
- Body – man’s physical needs for security, health, and well-being
First, let me state emphatically. Correct teaching of the Word of God MUST be maintained and safeguarded. There can be no compromise in teaching the absolute truth, inerrancy, and finality of God’s Word or of its relevance to today’s Christian.
If we aren’t ministering for a person’s eternal spiritual need for salvation and spiritual growth, we’ve missed everything. People need to hear the gospel message of salvation in Christ.
But a church can’t stop there. For a church congregation to make an impact on the community around it, it must also minister to two other aspects of a person, which are the body and soul.
When a church intentionally focuses on meeting the needs of all three aspects of individuals, people will be saved, the church body will multiply in membership, and there will be spiritual growth of individuals within that church body.
A pastor certainly can’t do this by himself. And he isn’t supposed to handle it alone. That’s why the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to the entire body of believers.
Actually, a growing church probably attracts people more so from the actions of its membership than from the minister in the pulpit. Why? Congregational members are the ones primarily responsible for meeting needs for two aspects of a man, those of the body and soul. Add to that, the spiritual gift of teaching isn’t limited to the pulpit, but to a number of members within the congregation as well.
So, by God’s design for the church body, congregational members should be ministering to all three parts of a man. Therefore, for a church to impact the local community, the largest part of the responsibility falls not on the pastor, but on the church members.
In Acts 4, we have testimony that the early church ministered to the needs of all three aspects of a man. Members of the early church sincerely cared about one another’s mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Their example is given to show what unity and ministry should look like within a local church body.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had (Acts 4:32).
Ministry to the Soul:
First, these believers “were one in heart and mind.” There was unity in their will, core beliefs, and sincere concern for one another. This was a church whose members were ministering to each other during their adversities of life. They were genuinely connected in love, and supporting other believers through various trials, struggles, temptations, etc.
They were also meeting each other’s emotional needs by comforting and nurturing one another. They were there for each other, to encourage one another, to comfort one another, to teach one another, and, yes, to admonish one another. (Admonishment is important to unity in a church, if done Scripturally.)
Ministry to the Body:
The early church of Acts also met the needs for the physical well-being of each other. Don’t misunderstand Scripture. Everything wasn’t communal property among them. But, in their attitudes, they didn’t count their possessions as their own. Because they valued each other so highly in Christ, they had an attitude among their membership that no individual would indulge in overabundance while another member was lacking in the necessities of shelter, food, clothing, or security.
Still, while people need nurturing, the church isn’t a group of individuals who are gathered together simply to enjoy a time of social hospitality and fun fellowship.
Ministry to the Spirit:
If we neglect a man’s spiritual need for a relationship and deeper fellowship in Christ, we’ve done more harm than good.
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32)
Christ must be held up as Head of the Church. And, the Word of God must be upheld as absolute truth. The gospel message of salvation through the grace and work of Jesus Christ alone is paramount to the Church.
If we neglect the gospel, nothing else is relevant because the “spirit” in a man will never cease to exist.
To satisfy his spirit, a man must have a relationship with the heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ. A person’s eternity is at stake. That ought to drive Christians with fervor to share the gospel. To grow the church in Christ, the gospel message is to be carried with power as we testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
God’s Word is always at work and reaches into the very core being of a man. Scripture “penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow [body]; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrew 4:12). Teaching Scripture correctly is essential to meet the needs of all three parts of a man.
When we see a body of believers that purposefully and sincerely minister to the three parts of men, we see a church on fire for the Lord, and reaching the world for Christ. We also see inner needs fulfilled within the body, as seen in the early church.
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Acts 4:34-35.
In the early church, God’s Word was carried with power into their community. And, within their body, the needs of the people were being so met by others around them that, “there were no needy persons among them.”
Ministering to all three parts which make up the individual can make the difference between a relatively stagnant church and one that is making a fruitful impact for Christ in their community. When a church congregation focuses on ministering to the various needs of all three aspects within a man, people will first be drawn to Christ. Too, the individuals within that church body will become magnetized to each other.
If you liked this post, you may also want to read another post about fostering a church atmosphere for growth: