This is a personal topic for me since I have actually been on both sides of the fence. Let me share my short story so you can see where I am coming from and I can give you a clearer answer.
At one point, I didn’t attend the church I had been going to (currently the largest church in all of Miami, FL) and serving in for about ten years because I saw too much abuse and manipulation in the leadership. So called “brother/sisters in Christ” decided to gossip about my wife and I because they didn’t like us being together. This was not just silly gossip, but literally spreading rumors about us without our knowledge and pretending they were very holy in doing so. We decided not to be a part of any bible studies, evangelism, or discipleship until we prayed and figured out what God wanted us to do.
As days turned to weeks, then months, we felt more at peace not being part of that church and instead seeking God daily in our personal lives. I knew that God was leading us to go to another place, but I personally don’t agree with “church hopping,” so we continued to pray and visited only one other church a few times.
A friend of ours was attending a small church (like 30-50 people) and I was invited to their men’s bible study. I honestly had never attended one so I was looking forward to it, and after going several times I shared my heart with the pastor. He and the other guys prayed for the right decision to be made, and after hanging out and spending time with their church community we stayed. We chose to stay not because they were nice, but because their vision and goals were what we were looking for.
If your story is similar to mine, or you don’t relate to it at all, that’s ok. The point of the story is that as Christians, we need to be around a community of believers that can lift our hands when we can’t anymore. We need to hear a message that will challenge us and not make us feel comfortable. Christians need to know that they aren’t alone in their struggles, because the Devil loves to isolate and make us feel that we are the “only ones” going through this and that.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Christianity is about community and relationships. You cannot pull one verse from the New Testament that shows Jesus going off on His own except in prayer. He is always around His disciples (unless they abandoned Him one way or another), or after the Resurrection you find Apostle Paul always mentioning in his letters how he goes to visit the churches he planted. Even Apostle Peter whose own shadow healed the sick never stopped communing with the other disciples.
“For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.” – Romans 1:11
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7
Should a Christian belong to a church, or at the very least some form of Bible study/cell group? Yes, of course. There is no such thing as a lone wolf Christian, which is exactly what the Devil would want you to do. When you’re alone, you have nobody to correct you or guide you. Even if you’re reading Christian books or listening to podcasts online, it’s not enough because that preacher is not looking at your business and telling you what you need to fix.
It’s easy for us to pretend that we have it all together, but a spiritual authority can point out areas in your life that are in darkness and need exposure. Maybe you’re dealing with some kind of sinful habit, or you aren’t treating your loved ones correctly. Whatever it is make sure you’re plugged into your local church community and get involved with what God is doing. It is rewarding, biblical, and what God has always setup as ideal for His people.