"Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually." - 1 Corinthians 12:27
In the Bible, we often read of the church as a gathering of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, we can safely say that the church is not a physical structure, but a collective group of people who believe in the same God, follow the same Lord Jesus Christ, adhere to the same beliefs and doctrines, and continue to fellowship with one another.
That said, can a Christian be without a church? Is it right for any believer to go solo and live out their faith away from other believers?
The Bible tells us that the fellowship of believers is very important. Why is this so? What does fellowship do?
In Acts 2:42, we read that the early believers "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." These things are foundational to our growth in Christ and growth in each other.
Based on the early church, our fellowships or gatherings as a church should be saturated with the word of God (the teachings of Christ - doctrine), relationships characterized by brotherly love (fellowship), a constant remembrance of what Christ has done for us (breaking of bread), and continued prayer for and with one another.
The church should be like that. Many believers, however, find these things missing in their churches. Some even find that their churches do not only lack these - their churches also do the opposite of these things.
When church goes wrong
Friends, we often forget that we are the church. We are the body. We are God's people, God's children, and God's redeemed. We are all under the same Lord Jesus, have the same Holy Spirit living in us, and the same Father loving us lavishly.
When we forget these things, that's when churches start to go wrong. Leaders of all kinds start lording over their members. Members start mumbling against each other. We all forget that we're merely recipients of grace. And we forget that we should be loving towards all who are in the church, regardless of socio-economic status, educational attainment, or career progress.
But when these things happen, do we altogether give up on meeting one another? No, we shouldn't. Even if we have to leave our churches, we should not give up on fellowshipping with Christians who truly love God and obey Christ.
Be in constant fellowship
That said, I encourage you, friends. We are the church, and so we must stay in fellowship with each other. If the church we go to teaches what is wrong, then we will find fellowship with those that teach what is right. We should not be in bondage to a wrong church, but we should not be a solo Christian either.