1577 ekklēsía (from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.
A building is not “the church.” Born again believers are the church. An organization is not “the church.” Born again believers are the church. The true church is a family, and should function similar to a family, each person having a role. If all the buildings that we call “churches” were to close their doors, there would still be a church. If all the organizations and institutions that are called “churches” were to fall into apostasy, the true church would still be in existence. How? Why? Because the church is the faithful remnant of people who follow the Lord Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth.
If we are not gathering in Spirit and in truth our gathering is pointless. It has become nothing more than a legal formality. The Lord told us that when two or three are gathered together in His name, He would be in the midst.
There can be, and there is, ministry outside of the institution/organization called the “church.” We are to be salt and light in this world. Our whole life can be, is to be, ministry. Ministry does not have to be confined to belonging to a particular “church” and then signing up for a specific “ministry.” We can be salt and light wherever we are. There are people all around us who need to hear the Gospel. There are people all around us who need comfort and help. There are people all around us who need prayer. Whatever the Lord puts before us to do for others is ministry. I have found in my experience that it is possible for “ministry” to become nothing more than a legal formality. On the other had I have also experienced the joy of ministry that flows from the heart, and is a very real part of the world we live in.
Giving can also become a legal formality. We can give in a compulsory manner, or give with eyes closed to serious false doctrines being propagated in our local church. We think we have done our duty, and say we are not responsible for what is done with the money once it leaves our hands. But is that really true? I don’t think so. When the institutional/organizational church has gone astray, there are many other ways we can give to further the Gospel and help the poor. We should provide for our family also, including our parents etc. if they have need. If we pray and seek the Lord through His Word, He will lead us in the right direction.
Before I was born again I attended the Roman Catholic church. They have what they call “holy days of obligation.” You must attend a church on those days or you are guilty of what they call “mortal sin.” Many Catholics attend church in legal obedience to this Roman Catholic law. But we, as born again Christians, are to be concerned with truth, not a legal obedience void of truth. We must follow the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man who had nowhere to lay his head. If our local congregations have fallen into apostasy, we may have no choice but to go forth and worship Him outside the camp, and by doing so we will surely bear his reproach.
Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Hebrews 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.