Craig Van Gelder, in his book The Ministry of the Missional Church, says that every church has an organizational self-understanding - an understanding that makes up the core of their identity. He says there are three major understandings of the church.
"Established Church. Self-understanding: Exists as the primary geographical location of God's presence on earth through which the world can encounter God, with this authority being legitimated by the civil government."
"Corporate Church. Self-understanding: Exists as an organization with a purposive intent to accomplish something on behalf of God in the world, with this role being legitimated on a voluntary basis."
"Missional Church. Self-understanding: Exists as a community created by the Spirit that is missionary by nature in being called and sent to participate in God's mission in the world."
What understanding does your church have? Do you think it should have a different one?