Is it wrong to be a solo Christian?

I met a solo Christian the other day. A friend and I had a third person added to our golf outing. He introduced himself with some colorful language regarding how he was going to @#$%*#@ kill the golf ball that day. He then proceeded to break out his pack of cigarettes. On the third hole, he asked if we minded if he smoked marijuana. On the fourth hole, he asked me what I do for a living. When I told him I am a web developer for a Christian ministry, he got all excited. “You two are Christians! That’s great, so am I. It will be awesome to spend some time with some brothers in Christ on the course today!”

I proceeded to ask him about his spiritual background and his beliefs. By the end of the 18 holes, I became fairly convinced that he did indeed know Jesus Christ as his Savior. But, one thing he said particularly intrigued me. He said that he does not attend a church because he doesn’t much care for the whole “church thing.” He said he would rather work things out on his own, spiritually speaking.

There are a lot of people who have this “solo Christian” attitude. Some have had genuinely bad experiences in church. Some have been terribly hurt by people in the church doing and/or saying some very ungodly things to them. Others, though, stay away from church/fellowship because they do not want to be told that something in their lives is wrong. Some people flee from other Christians because they do not want to have their unbiblical beliefs/practices/presuppositions challenged. Whatever the reason for the solo Christian attitude, it is wrong. The Christian life is not supposed to be a solo venture.

Christians are not to neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). Christians are to love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), and be compassionate towards one another (Ephesians 4:32). The spiritual gifts are designed to be used to build one another up in the faith (1 Corinthians 12:21-26). These “one anothers” are not possible if Christians are never around one another.

I am not necessarily talking about church attendance. The church, which is comprised of all true followers of Jesus Christ, is a body. For a body to function properly, all of its parts need to be present (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Whether you are an eye or a toe, your purpose cannot be fulfilled while you are disconnected from the body. Your connection with the Body of Christ can be through attending formal church services in a church building. Or, it can be achieved through a home church or Bible study. In reality, the Body of Christ can function anytime Christians are gathered together. But, again, there must be a gathering together.

The idea of a solo Christian is foreign to the Bible. As followers of Christ, we should desire fellowship with other Christians. We should want to be encouraged, taught, and rebuked when necessary. And, we should be willing and able to encourage, teach, and rebuke others when it is necessary. Jesus came to serve (Mark 10:45), and we are to follow His example by serving others. In a solo Christian life, the only person being served is yourself.

By no means am I saying that all solo Christians are foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, or spiritually immature. On the contrary, I have met some solo Christians who appear to be solid, dedicated, and mature followers of Christ. But, in most cases, attempting to live a solo Christian life is a tremendous detriment to actually living the Christian life. Without opportunities to serve others, and without giving others opportunities to minister to you—a crucial aspect of the Christian life is missed.

No, the church is not perfect. Yes, the church is filled with fallen, sin-plagued, and mistake-prone people like you and me. But, this is no excuse for attempting to live the Christian life solo. Don’t give up on the church. Jesus Christ sure hasn’t (Ephesians 5:25-27)!

S. Michael Houdmann

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Is it wrong to be a solo Christian?