Lately, I have been discussing the “local church” and “universal church” distinctions with a friend. Neither of us like these terms. However, we are trying to determine if there are terms that can adequately describe Scripture’s use of ekklesia – “church”. For example, “church” is used to describe a group of believers meeting in a house or a group of believers meeting in a city. Possibly, “church” (singular) is also used to describe a group of believers over an extended area (Judea, Galilee, and Samaria). “Churches” (plural) is used to describe groups of believers across extended areas (the churches of a region).
I realize (sometimes I’m slow) that Scripture does not modify the term “church.” This is probably why I have not been able to find terms that adequately describe the church as it is described in Scripture.
Perhaps, it is best to recognize the term “church” as referring to any grouping of believers.