There are a number of places in the New Testament where the term "church" (ekklesia) is clearly not used in the sense of a local congregation. In this case, the universal church (also sometimes called the invisible church and the catholic church - with catholic used in its original sense of "universal" rather than its more common modern use of the specific church headed in Rome) is a spiritual organism with Christ as its Head and all believers as its members. Some disagreement exists among Christians as to exactly who makes up this universal church. In any case, the Church belongs to Christ. He is described as its head. He gave the church gifts, and he is preparing the Church to become his bride without blot or blemish.
At the outset it is clear that Gods purpose for His church is articulated in its mission. Mission, however, belongs to the very being of the Church. As persons who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, Christians are called to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. We are to address those who have not heard as well as to those who are no longer in living contact with the Gospel, the Good News of the reign of God. It is by fulfilling the mission of Christ that the church, reconciles all things to God. Through its ministry of service and proclamation, the Church participates in and points to the reality of the Kingdom of God. .
For centuries the church has not only been seen as a corporate entity striving to deliver the gospel to every kindred and tongue, but has also encountered the call to servitude. It is called and empowered to share the suffering of all by advocacy and care for the poor and the needy. Because the servant-hood of Christ entails suffering, it is evident, as expressed in the New Testament writings, that the witness of the Church will entail, for individuals and for the community, the way of the cross. .
The Church universal according to the New Testament is a mixture of wheat and tares, which brings us to what I call the invisible-visible theory.