I have some other-than-normal thoughts on this ... I define church differently than most ... I see it as a first century (only) phenomenon (that the ekklesia, or called-out-ones, were the ones called out of the old covenant, into the new covenant - and that it was only that 40-year generation) ... and I'm rather inclined to believe that Jesus never intended to set up what we call church, or Christianity for that matter.
Out there in cyberland, some folks were having a discussion about how church is dying ... here's how I chimed in:
What if it's *meant* to die?
As I see it, all things in their tangible form must die, so that the real life of that thing, the spiritual reality, can emerge.
I see this in nature (& see that Jesus taught of it often).
Caterpillars becoming butterflies ... seeds becoming plants ... the old covenant disappearing while the new covenant was emerging ... egoic/carnal natures giving way to spirit. In each case, the former has to die (or yield) to the new ... to cling to that which is fading away is to perish with it ...
As well, there's a time, a season for all things ... when it's time is past, if we insist on propping it up, pretending that it's still alive, it's as if we're trying to have a relationship with that which has been gutted and stuffed -- all taxidermy and hollow fluff.
The healthy thing to do is to let the form, of that which has died, decay ... and to let that which is true life within that thing, resurrect... the temptation to overcome is the tendency to simply set up another "form"...
I see the death of what calls itself "church" to be a good, healthy, and God-initiated thing. Maybe if we stop being fixated on that which is past, we can discover that which we *have*...!