I just finished the book "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell. I loved it! Movements 4, 6 and 7 of the book touched something deep in me. If you want to read any of it, read those movements (chapters).
On the last page of the book, Bell talks about the church as SHE. He closes the book with these words that I want to share with you:
One of the central metaphors for God and his people throughout the Bible is that of a groom and his bride. God is a groom and his people are the bride. I like this because the church is a "she." She's a mystery isn't she? Still going after all this time. After the Crusades and Inquisition and Christian cable television. Still going. And there continue to be people like me who believe that she is one of the best ideas ever. In spite of all the ways she has veered off track. In spite of all the people who have actually turned away from God because of whet they experienced in church. I am starting to realize why: The church is like a double edged sword. When it's good, when it's on, when it's right, it's like nothing on earth. A group of people committed to selflessly loving the world around them? Great. But when it's bad, all that potential gets turned the other way. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Sometimes in the same week. Sometimes in the same day.
But she will live on. She's indestructible. When she dies in one part of the world, she explodes in another. She's global. She's universal. She's everywhere. And while she's fragile, she's going to endure. In every generation, there will be people that will see her beauty and give their lives to see her shine. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against her. That's strong language. And it's true. She will continue to roll across the ages, serving and giving and connecting people with God and each other. And people will abuse her and manipulate her and try to control her, but they'll pass on. And she will keep going!