Several images are used in the Bible to describe the church: the body of Christ, the elect, the house of God, the saints. One of the most meaningful expressions the Bible uses is “the people of God,” the laos theon.
The church, then, is people. The Roman Catholic Church once declared, “Where the bishop is, there is the church.” The Reformation declared, “Where the people of God are, there is the church—the church under the Lordship of Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.”
The church is neither a building nor the clergy nor an abstract institution—it is the people of God. When Martin Luther articulated his vision of the priesthood of all believers, he did not denigrate the legitimate role of the clergy. He understood that Christ has given pastors and teachers to His church, along with other offices, with specified tasks. What Luther was getting at, however, is that the priestly ministry of Christ is passed on in some measure to every believer.
Give thanks that you are part of the body of Christ, the elect, the people of God.