Former Lutheran pastor John Fenton, has a thought provoking article on his blog about his journey to Orthodoxy.
In it he is asked the question "Where is the Church?"
For me, this is a fundamental question that has a real answer.
You see, for me, my own spiritual journey brought me to the same place. For years I believed the Church was "invisible" made up of all those who claimed Jesus as their Savior and had accepted His lordship over their lives.
While this pietistic theory of ecclesiology seemed to serve me well, it eventually has to end in heresy because the Church IS the Body of Christ. Christ is fully God and fully man. He was visible and real during His earthly ministry, and His Body still maintains these characteristics of reality - visibility and authenticity.
To suggest otyherwise is to toy with the heresy of docetism.
Ecclesiology is the "undiscovered country" for most of Protestantism, and specifically Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism.
When one confronts the issues related to this primary question "Where is the Church?" one will begin to see other issues become clearer.
Ultimately, this question, as with most other questions of theology end up with the Person of Jesus Christ. All heresies somehow attempt to distort Who Jesus Christ is or to deny Him. The issue of ecclesiology is no different. A weak ecclesiology WILL result in a weakened Christology, and that "corruption" will eventually make its way into the everyday lives of believers.
What we believe theologically always incarnates itself in our behavior. That's why we will come to the final judgement as either "sheep" or "goats." What we already "are" will only be revealed there, not imposed there.
Lord, have mercy.