In what he confesses is a long post, but is still shorter than my normal post, Dave Black discusses how to translate the Greek word ekklesia, both in terms of an English word (he chooses “community”), and in practice.
I’ve been discussing this in connection with the question of dealing with sin in the church. Many mainliners don’t want to think about this, or even think we shouldn’t deal with it. It’s part of “not judging.”
But then you have issues such as sexual abuse which must be dealt with, and we find that we really don’t have any idea what to do.
In the several cases in which I have had the opportunity to discuss this, I have always come back to this: We cannot adequately deal with sin in the church because the church is not functioning as a community. There are many elements to this issue, including clergy-laity distinctions, or more precisely leadership-followership.
People have been told not to report evil, because they will damage the reputation of a “good man.” (I suppose it could be a good woman, but I have heard it several times, and only regarding the reputation of good men.)
We need to be looking at—and implementing—ways of making the church a functioning community. One characteristic (of many) of this would be that we do not excuse abuse by leaders.