Where the rubber meets the road in Christianity is the local congregation. We see in scripture that the first century church gathered together in their communities and cities to worship, serve, and multiply. In any congregation in the world today there’s always the opportunity for introspection and growth. But sometimes is a good idea to consider the makeup of the local church to enhance its strength. If we had to identify the most important aspect of the local congregation, what would it be?
Some might say that the preacher is the most important part of a congregation. I’m a little biased in this, but I strongly disagree with that statement. Although the preacher has a very important role as one who instructs and encourages through the Word of God, he is completely fallible. And even though a preacher makes a large impression on visitors to the congregation, he is by no means the only one who makes impressions on those not normally assembling with us. No, I think the preacher is absolutely not the backbone of the local church.
Some might say the leadership of the congregation is the backbone. The elders who oversee the flock and the deacons who serve in their various roles have a very important work of the church, but there are many congregations who lack both elders and deacons. Those congregation should not be satisfied with these biblical offices being vacant, but it by no means implies that the most important functioning group of the church is the leadership.
So what is the backbone of the local church? I think the answer is found in Ephesians 4:14-16, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
The backbone of the church, the thing that keeps the congregation functioning the way it should, is everyone. Everyone doing their part, using their gifts the way God designed them, keep the body upright and growing. You cant look at your own body and determine that you would be better off without any of your body parts, nor can we look at the local church and say we don't need someone in their role. We all must do our part in the local congregation to be the hands of Christ in this world. May God bless us in our various roles in His service.