A Protestant missionary friend has been corresponding with me via email about all things theological. Here is a small snippet of our conversation:
"In my childhood, the 'church' bruised my family and I quite severely..."
I know what you mean all too well. I think the damage done by those who call themselves Christians (and I am chief among sinners here) is something we can hardly fathom. This hypocrisy and nominalism was, in part, one of the reasons I become discontent with the churches of my upbringing (Anglican and Quaker) and started really searching, in my late teens and early 20's, for what the early church believed and practiced.
During those years, when I looked around at contemporary and modern Christianity, I just couldn't believe that "this is all there is."
"A passion that burdens my soul in these recent years is a passion to see the church prepare herself to become the bride of Christ."
I, too, had this deep longing and hope that the Faith had to go deeper in terms of teaching us a life of holiness; have more continuity with what has come before in terms of belief; have a more solid theological and practical foundation than the private whims of any one pastor or parish; and be what the Scripture itself calls the Church (and here is the key) *as it exists now*:
For example the biblical writers already were calling the Church "the Body of Christ" (Rom 12; 1 Cor 10, 12; Col 1) and the Bride of Christ (Eph 5; Rev 21). It is likened as well to God's living Temple (Eph 2; 1 Pet 2) and is called "the pillar and bulwark of Truth" (1 Tim 3:15).
As a Protestant I just couldn't figure out what church the New Testament was talking about! It sure wasn't the one I was part of with its fragmented denominations, contradictory teachings and practices, and lack of any substantial spiritual life or way of curbing the passions. So I understand what you are saying about the church, or rather, your experience of "church"--it was exactly my own until about 7 years ago.
But more on that later. Let me respond to some more of the specifics of your letter....