“Assembly” is probably the closest English word to “ekklesia”, which is the original ancient Greek word commonly mistranslated as “church” in our English Bibles.
But even “assembly” falls short.
In the common usage of the day when the New Testament was written, “ekklesia” almost always referred to the participatory governing authority in a city …
Made up of local citizens appointed by a larger empire.
In Israel during Jesus’ time on Earth, the local ekklesia under Roman rule was the Sanhedrin.
Each city or provence had their own local ekklesia, appointed by the conquering Roman empire to assemble and manage local affairs through local citizens.
Although it operated under the Emperor’s authority, it nonetheless functioned internally as a democratic and fully participatory assembly.
The idea of Christ building His ekklesia, therefore, was subversive to Roman ears but fully in line with His further teachings on His Kingdom.
Unfortunately, “church” today has little to do – either as to form or function – with what “ekklesia” actually meant when the New Testament was written.
Christ’s ekklesia would be an assembly of those called by Him to gather and participate together …
In exercising His authority and advancing His Kingdom as His representatives in their local community.
To really understand the Bible, we need to learn what it actually said when written, based on the meaning and context of the words used …
Rather than reading back into those words our contrary post-New Testament meanings.