C. S. Lewis uses Screwtape to express a rather unflattering description of the Church to encourage his nephew Wormwood when the object of his efforts became a Christian. Screwtape pointed out the habits and customs of the one being tempted were still oriented toward the desires of the flesh, and Wormwood had those habits on his side. The Church is regarded as the total mass of the members. Of course, the intended aim of the Church is to strengthen the members toward a more virtuous life, but let's face it: the members still carry and participate in a lot of sin. This indicates that the Church is a project under construction just as the individual Christians are always moving toward a more excellent rendition of themselves.
It is reassuring that God does not expect us to become Holy or virtuous overnight. I have been working at this for a long time and I'm still not Holy, but, on the other hand, I have come a long way and learned a lot about what I think God want's me to know of his word and his work. I find it encouraging that he doesn't give up on me even though I'm still not perfect. One of the things God keeps showing me are the many areas where I'm still not up to his standards. He also continually shows me the many ways where I am making progress and becoming more constrained by his commands.
This double sided view of myself is both fearful and fabulous: Both are revelations that I don't see without his help. In this life, the Church is the collection of the humans who attend and support her. One day the Church will be transformed into the image God sees in her and, like us, the Church will be visible to us too, in all her glory and majesty. There's a great day coming!