My initial response is, “yes.” Studying the Bible on your own is good, but that is more like a connected group setting, and if no one there is theologically educated – that train can come off the tracks at any time. This could lead to the danger of false teaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (NIV). In the body of Christ, there is a give and take that takes place. Somedays, you may be encouraging someone in their faith, and you may need encouragement at other times. We are meant to be together to bear each other’s burdens. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” How do we fulfill the law of Christ? By carrying each other’s burdens. That could involve instructing in the Word, praying for, correcting, and encouraging.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27, “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” … its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (NIV). Together we make a comprehensive whole so that no one goes without lack. If you are absent from a church body, then someone is missing the gift that God gave you to use, and you are missing out on the contributions of others.
The church is where we grow in our faith. Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (NIV). If we don’t go to church and hear the Word of God preached, we don’t grow in our faith; at least, we don’t grow as fast. Our mandate is to become more Christ-like. It is a process that we call sanctification. From the time that we are born again, we are putting off the old man and putting on the new. We are trying to recover the image of God that was tarnished by The Fall of mankind.
It is a biblical pattern to have leaders overseeing the needs of a local body of believers. It is a biblical pattern. Church leadership is a hard task for sure and not all of us are called to it, but we should all submit to church leadership. Acts 14:23, “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” Titus 1:5, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” Hebrews 13:17, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” God intended for us to be under local authority.
I know that sometimes the church can be a hard place to be, but it is what God designed for us. I believe that He uses those times that are hard for us as heavenly sandpaper, removing the rough edges from our hearts, and transforming us into the image of His Son. We aren’t perfect, far from it, so why do we expect others to be? Beloved, embrace the saints and get committed to experiencing community within the church.