You cannot bring your gifts to mature function apart from the mutual ministries of Christ’s church. Therefore no Christian can determine his calling in isolation from the throbbing organism in which he is called. No doubt a Christian who is joined to Christ can exist outside the fellowship of the Church, almost as a surgically removed bodily organ may be kept alive if the links of arteries and nerves are unsevered. But a living brain on a laboratory stand is a monstrosity. There are emergencies which may require surgery: Christians may be forced to separation, and Christ himself warned of the necessity of cutting off an offending member of the body (Matt. 18:7-9, 17). But the Christian is endued of his Lord for corporate life. His freedom and growth are found in fellowship.
Ed Clowney, Called to the Ministry, p. 34