Regarding this “visible” and “invisible” thing in the church. Alan Knox restated one of my comments and I think he does a better job of summarizing my view than what I wrote:
"The invisible church is invisible because we over-emphasize the local church."
That kind of captures what I was thinking. The surest sign, in the eyes of both the world and the church, that a person is a Christian is attendance at church. That is unfortunately not at all what we get from the Bible. The signs that a person is a Christian in Scripture are love for Christ exhibited in obedience to His commands, loving others as ourselves, conspicuous love for one another (i.e. our brothers and sisters), humility, meekness, service. That is tangibly demonstrated in breaking bread and sharing meals with one another, caring for the poor and the widows and orphans, a willingness and indeed an eagerness to share materially with one another, spending time together and living lives with one another. Glaringly absent is a call for religious expression like…church.
If we were doing what we are called to do and living as we are called to live, the church universal wouldn’t be invisible because our identity as Christians would be conspicuously obvious to everyone. We would be living our lives “worthy of the Gospel” (Phil 1:27) and in doing so we would by our very lives be witnesses to the world (Phil 1: 28). The Christian should be so distinct from the world, even while living amidst the world, as to stand out like a proverbial sore thumb. We are so concerned with “getting people to church” so they can hear a sermon that we forget the powerful witness of our lives. Our Christian identity must not be something we put on for Sunday morning like a suit and tie but rather be the defining characteristic of our lives.
What a powerful witness we could be to the world if we stopped worrying so much about 11 AM to noon on Sunday morning.