What Are the Six Images of the Church?
The six images, sometimes referred to as models, of the Church are Institution, Communion, Sacrament, Herald, Servant and Community. As an Institution, the Church is made up of buildings and has an organized structure and rules. It is hierarchy, not a democracy. In the case of the Catholic Church, Christ is the spiritual head, while the Pope is the leader of the institution.
As Communion, the Church represents family and fellowship, as described in the New Testament. The Church offers and oversees the Sacraments, which are a visual representation of faith. Holy Communion is an example, where bread and water are blessed and turned into wine, and it is shared with the congregation. The Communion and Sacraments images are closely intertwined.
As a Herald, or messenger, the work of the Gospel is spread both inside and outside the congregation. This term is more often used in the Protestant religions, with the Roman Catholic Faith typically calling this image the Transformer. In either case, the goal is to “spread the Word” and bring more faithful souls into the flock.
As a Servant, the Church emphasizes doing good deeds, such as feeding and clothing the poor. All members are encouraged to participate. The Community image is achieved by following the first five images. To do so makes the Church one big family where all are welcome and no one is ever truly alone.