It is fascinating to me how we compartmentalize our lives. We certainly do this when we read our bibles.
I can tell you from experience in various evangelical churches (and denominations) that we search the scriptures in depth for information about God, man, sin, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and the end times. We are masters of dissecting the smallest clauses and phrases to see what the original authors meant. We do this with good intent and, in general, much good comes from this.
The way we compartmentalize is that we usually do not search the scriptures to find out what they have to say about the church. I'm not sure why this is the case. It may be that we are afraid of what we will find. Are we scared to read something in the bible about the church that does not correspond to how we currently view the church?
I think something else is happening. We are, without thinking about it, assuming that our ecclesiology (study and practice of the church) is correct. We most likely do this because we have grown up in the church and assume that those who came before us set the church up according to biblical standards and practice. We do this with good intention. Additionally, many who came before us did much good in the life of the church.
It is important, however, to always be searching the scriptures in all areas of life. We should never stop looking in the bible for new nuggets of information. The scriptures will continually challenge us in the holiness of our lives, in how we treat others, in what our priorities are, etc. The scriptures also continually challenge us in what we believe about core issues of the Christian life. How will we respond?
As we think about church life, let us not assume that what we believe about the church automatically lines up with what the bible tells us. Let us constantly be searching the bible to ensure that what we believe and practice falls in line with the scriptures. When we find things that do not line up, we must change to be more biblical.
Let's avoid assumed ecclesiology. Let's strive for ever-increasing biblical ecclesiology.