A gathering becomes a church when people meet for one supreme purpose, not to enjoy life, not to help others enjoy life, not to persuade others to find life in Jesus, but to become like Jesus in their motives, thoughts, and appetites–all for the pleasure of the Father.
People gather for a variety of reasons and with different agendas, hidden and blatant. When people gather to relate like Jesus–to God and one another–they take on a challenge that will expose and confront every drop of self-centeredness in them…And that’s impossible–without the Spirit. And it’s foolish if there is no next world. Look what happened to Jesus for being Jesus. If the grave ended His life, His is no example I want to follow…
…A gathering can be relatively pleasant and bright: a church carries us through pain and darkness.
A gathering often functions smoothly; a church is always messy.
A gathering affirms natural tendencies that seem right and feel good; a church rebukes those tendencies and calls out supernatural inclinations that seem wrong and feel bad until a certain line of maturity is crossed.
~ Dr. Larry Crabb in Real Church: Does It Exist? Can I Find It?, page 16 [bold emphasis mine].