Christians who find themselves living in an area without access to a local church face a challenging situation. While church attendance and fellowship are encouraged for believers, circumstances may make that impossible at times. However, there are still ways to maintain one’s faith and continue growing spiritually even without a traditional church home.
Prioritize Daily Bible Reading and Prayer
Without regular preaching and teaching, personal Bible study becomes even more critical. Set aside time each day to read God’s word and speak with Him in prayer (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 55:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to understand what is read and apply it. While corporate worship provides needed encouragement, we each have the responsibility to connect to God individually.
Find Alternative Ways to Fellowship with Believers
Explore ways to enjoy Christian community remotely. Skype or FaceTime with other believers for prayer, Bible study, or conversation. Listen to sermons online from solid Bible-teaching churches. Join an online small group or Bible study. While digital interactions lack the power of in-person gatherings, they can provide community and spiritual input when nothing else is available (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Reach Out to Other Believers Nearby
Chances are there are other Christians living nearby who also lack a church home. Ask around to find and connect with them. Meet up for meals, prayer, Bible study, or worship. Christian fellowship does not require a formal church setting to take place (Matthew 18:20). And meeting together with even two or three others can build up and encourage everyone involved (Acts 2:42-47).
Start a Home Church
If there are no churches to join, consider planting one! Find several like-minded believers and take turns gathering in one another’s homes for worship, preaching, prayer and fellowship. God may use your home church to bring the gospel to more people in your area. And it can lay the foundation for an organized church plant in the future (Philemon 1:2, Romans 16:5).
Worship Independently or with Family
Set aside time each Sunday for worship and reflection even if alone. Sing hymns, pray, read Scripture, and meditate on God. Watch livestreams of church services if available. Share spiritual discussions and activities with family members at home. While corporate worship is ideal, individual worship is possible and still honors God (Psalm 150:6, Joshua 24:15).
Serve Your Local Community
Be the church by ministering to those around you. Volunteer with charities, assist neighbors, participate in community service. Let your light shine through good works so others see Christ in you (Matthew 5:16). And pray these seeds of service lead to Gospel opportunities. When organized church is absent, we must embody Christ to our neighbors.
Continue to Give Financially
The lack of a church home should not hinder giving. Continue to set aside tithes and offerings as an act of worship and support of God’s work (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). Research effective ministries to contribute to. Or save funds until finding a new church. Generous giving expresses faith that God provides, regardless of circumstance.
Make Use of Christian Radio, Podcasts, Books
Supplement Scripture reading and prayer with other biblical resources. Christian radio, podcasts and books can provide sound teaching and encouragement from godly leaders and churches. Seek out materials that are doctrinally solid, grounded in Scripture and relevant to current issues (2 Timothy 4:13).
Connect with Parachurch Ministries
Look into para-church ministries like Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), Navigators or InterVarsity Christian Fellowship which have local groups that provide fellowship, study and growth opportunities separate from a traditional church. While not a full replacement for church involvement, it can offer community and spiritual nourishment.
Attend Conferences, Retreats or Camps
Take advantage of opportunities like Christian conferences, retreats, or camps which bring believers together for focused study, worship and fellowship. The temporary immersion in Christian community can energize and refocus faith. Look for sound speakers and solid Scriptural teaching when selecting an event to attend.
Be Ready to Join a Church
Prayerfully seek out a doctrinally-sound church to join when one becomes accessible. Be ready to commit to regular attendance, serving, giving and fellowship there. The church is God’s chosen vehicle for discipleship, worship, community and evangelism (Ephesians 3:10). So while alternate options may suffice for a season, pursuit of involvement in a local body should remain the goal.
Trust God’s Sovereignty and Guidance
At times we cannot understand why God allows certain circumstances. But trust His wisdom and sovereignty while seeking to honor Him wherever you are. View it as a temporary assignment or mission field. Ask God to use this unique period to stretch your faith, deepen your spiritual disciplines and equip you for future service in His Kingdom.
See it as Ministry Training
Without the luxury of church programs and leadership, one must become a self-starter in pursuing spiritual growth. See this as a period to develop disciplines and skills that will better equip you for future ministry. Let the hardship cultivate perseverance, resourcefulness and greater dependence on the Holy Spirit. God can use it to bring spiritual maturity.
Stay Connected to a Home Church
Maintain ties to a home church even when away for extended periods. Communicate with pastors and small group leaders for mentorship and accountability. Ask to remain on their membership roll. Participate remotely in teaching and service when possible. This provides a vital link and base to return to when location allows.
Isolation from fellow believers should not deter one from continuing to pursue relationship with God. Though far from ideal, there are creative ways to foster spiritual growth and Christian fellowship even when a faithful church is unavailable. Seek to emulate the practices of the early church: scripture, prayer, community, communion, giving, and outreach.
And continue to pray for God’s provision and timing to open a door for involvement in a body of believers. For the church is God’s plan to build up His people, transform society, and reach the world with the hope of the gospel.
Maintain Doctrinal Purity
Without church oversight, one must become vigilant about monitoring their own doctrinal beliefs. Ensure personal studies and resources adhere to biblical truth vs following popular ideologies and movements away from foundational Christian tenets. Test all teaching against Scripture to avoid drifting into theological error.
Recognize feeling detached from the body of Christ will bring loneliness and challenges. Seek to persevere patiently knowing this is temporary. Avoid bitterness over the limitations. Remain hopeful in Christ’s power to sustain in all circumstances. And prayerfully expect God to provide needed fellowship in His perfect timing.
Explore House Churches
Research active “house church” networks in the area you are located even if not nearby. These smaller gatherings in homes may provide a sense of community not found in larger congregations. Pray about the possibility of starting a house church yourself to minister to other isolated believers in the region.
Utilize Online Church Resources
Many larger churches provide a wealth of resources like sermon archives, study materials, blogs and online classes through their websites. Take advantage of these tools to enjoy teaching from larger ministry teams not accessible locally. Supplement with recommended books and online articles.
Focus on Personal Spiritual Growth
Without the aid of church programs and leadership, one must look inward and take full ownership of their personal spiritual development. Allow the isolation to cultivate discipline in Bible study, Scripture memory, prayer, worship, evangelism and other practices of faith.
Share Your Faith
Do not isolate completely. Be intentional about encounters with unbelievers to share the gospel message in word and deed. Display Christ’s love to neighbors. This is the calling of every believer, with or without a church home (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).
Without the accountability a church body provides, invite transparency and accountability in other relationships to guard against temptation. Confess faults to a trusted believing friend. Maintain ties to mentors and others who can keep you grounded in the faith.
Practice Biblical Stewardship
Give regularly to churches or ministries making an impact for Christ, even when not attended locally. Continue tithing on income, time and abilities. God expects faithful stewardship of resources even in isolation. Support kingdom work globally (Malachi 3:10, 2 Corinthians 9).
Remember the Universal Church
You remain part of the universal Church through faith in Christ. Avoid self-pity in difficult seasons remembering believers around the world also experiencing hardship, persecution and lack. Praise God for the privilege of openly knowing Jesus without fear.
Consider it a Missionary Calling
Sometimes God calls missionaries to foreign places where no church exists. They must hold loosely to expectations and traditions while learning to thrive in a new spiritual climate. Embrace this lonely time as a mission field God can use for His purposes.
Take Advantage of Technology
The internet provides access to teaching, podcasts, videos, and music from solid Bible teachers and churches globally. Stay connected through social media and messaging with other believers. Keep learning and avoid isolation.
While being separated from regular church fellowship should not be taken lightly, it does not prevent one from having a vibrant relationship with God. See it as an opportunity to mature and develop personal faith disciplines that will bear fruit. And prayerfully anticipate the day when once again gathered together with God’s people.