Big Questions

Can you be a Christian hermit?

Posted July 26, 2023

by Savannah Wagner

Photo by Sincerely Media for Unsplash

Being a Christian hermit can mean a lot of different things to people in the congregation. Some can think of a Christian hermit as a castaway in society. A hermit can be someone who chooses to leave the traditional church community in search of different methods without leaving the big “C” Church, as in the body of Christ. Another way someone can be a hermit is by going into isolation with God as a means to strengthen their faith.

There are circumstances where you become a Christian hermit based on personal reasons having to do with health, the connections in your church severing, or faith. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it can lead to isolation from the Christian community.

Data from a 2017 survey suggests 81% of Christians go to church to get closer to God, according to Pew Research Center. Out of the individuals that do not go to church, 37% of them do not go because they practice faith in other ways.

Since there are two sides to the argument, it is important to look at the different reasons you might be a Christian hermit during your walk with God.

Friendlessness and loneliness

One of the reasons to become a Christian hermit is because of health circumstances. If there is one good thing that came out of COVID, it was the ability to stay connected with society through today’s technology.

Since 2020, the Church has looked slightly different. The pandemic did not stop community outreach but made it more challenging.

During that time, online services helped those in isolation continue hearing sermons — a good way to stay connected while practicing physical distancing.

Online services are a good tool to reach those who are sick. While these services can be incredibly beneficial, they can also be a disservice to those who already want to avoid in-person interactions. Those people are enabled to stay home, making it even harder for them to form connections.

Fear of judgment

Another reason to go into isolation from the church is to seek more meaningful connections with other Christians. When visiting a new church, you expect a welcoming environment. Christians seek friendships with other Christians in the church because it is a part of human nature.

Mike Frost, who wrote “The Lonely Crowd: churches dying due to friendlessness,” says it is not just churches Christians have the most problems with but it is with the people — fellow believers.

Frost goes on to say “church people aren’t good listeners.”

“Listening is key,” Frost said. “It’s impossible to show empathy or celebrate the positive in a person without first hearing from them. And without an awareness of similarity, empathy and celebration, friendships just don’t get started.”

Since believers are not forming friendships within the walls of the church, people feel the need to look elsewhere for a place to feel like they belong.

Younger generations, especially, feel they lack personal relationships in a church. They also struggle with feeling validated by other Christians. As a result, they leave and are turned off from the idea of going to church altogether, according to Raven Foundation.

Christians may become hermits because of the judgment received from others within the church. The feeling of inauthenticity is one of the reasons why many Christians leave the church, according to Raven Foundation.

In his article “Why Millennials Don’t Feel They Belong in Church and What We Can Do About It,” author and pastor Adam Ericken wrote, “Millennials thirst for a spiritual community that is authentic.”

When millennials feel only judgment in churches, there is no authenticity within the community.

The lack of love a congregation feels may also be why Christians prefer isolation. For a Christian to grow spiritually and maintain his or her beliefs, they need to connect with a faith-based community. If no love is felt, then they have no desire to connect with those in the community.

Solitude with Christ

Another reason why someone would become a Christian hermit is to deepen their faith. Someone can go into solitude with God because He guides them away during a certain season.

Melody Alisa, who makes faith-based Youtube videos, goes through reasons why God isolates someone and why being a hermit can sometimes be considered beautiful.

Alisa gives four reasons.

The first reason is God wants to remove us from distractions. These are things that keep us from growing our relationship with God.

When there is noise from distractions, it can be hard to hear God’s voice. The moments of solitude can help clear your head. You might take moments alone with God to mend your relationship with God.

There are different circumstances in the Bible where God removes distractions from us and instructs us to wait on Him.

For example, Lamentations 3:25-26 says: “The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord."

The second reason is so God can prepare and mature us for what is coming next. During this time of preparation, you could spend time in the word of God and prayer. During the preparation, you can take time to have serious spiritual growth.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God is working to prepare the future for His children: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for a disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

God never leads His children astray, and in solitude, it is peaceful to remind ourselves of that.

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Third, we learn to develop a dependence on God. Without distraction, you can truly hear God’s voice. When there is total silence, the only true answer you can find in solitude is in God.

God becomes more of a companion and you can get to know Him on a deeper level.

Psalm 62:2 refers to God as “my rock” and “my salvation” in times of trouble. Through solitude, you connect with God and the connection with God goes deeper.

Lastly, God is protecting us. This reason can tie into the reason why you might leave the church because of the lack of connections. God isolates us to guide us to other places and protect us from any distractions or hurt that may come to us.

In Psalm 32:7, God is referred to as our “hiding place.” He alone is how we find solitude.

The verse says, “For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.”

Solitude can remove outside influence, leaving you to rely on God and strengthening your relationship with Him.

While circumstances can cause someone to become a Christian hermit, it is not certain if it will be beneficial in the long run.

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Why meeting together is important

God giving us the desire to connect with other people is intentional. It is nearly impossible to ignore communication with people for long periods of time. The way we communicate with each other influences how willing we are to let our faith grow and mature spiritually.

The purpose of meeting together as a community is so Christians can lift each other up with their shared love for the Lord. Meeting together helps faith grow throughout the community and spread it to those outside of the church and into more communities who need to hear the gospel.

Lifting each other up in the church is also discussed in Hebrews 10:25, which says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Christians have a mission to come together in the Lord’s community so they can come together to strengthen their relationships with God as well as each other.

Creating a unified space within the church is not the only way someone can stop being a Christian hermit. There are also ways to build a supportive community of faithful believers.

Jesus, in Matthew 18:20, said, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Christians can strengthen their faith beyond conventional church settings through communities such as Bible studies. Bible studies can lead to friendships in the Christian community and make you feel comfortable in the church space. They can also lead to discussions that can help each other have a better understanding of Scripture.

Without these discussions, they become hermits — separated from the congregation and the ability to grow spiritually with God. Relationships are intended to challenge faith and grow discussion, wrote Mark Sanders in an article for WestMinster Magazine.

“Genuine relationships require vulnerability,” said Sanders. “To experience friendship as God intended requires giving others the power to hurt us. This is why we need to choose our friends wisely.”

Sanders continues, “Even though there are trustworthy people in our churches, many are unwilling to risk being truly known by anyone. But with no risk comes no reward. If you are unwilling to be known in the dark places of your life, you forfeit the comfort and security of being loved in those places you are convinced make you unlovable.”

Connecting with other believers is a way someone can seek wisdom through others. Relationships with other Christians can be helpful, especially in times of tribulation.

It helps to have someone to study the Bible or pray with. It allows free conversation and encouragement from each other.

Without communication with fellow Christians, a person lacks established connection and footing in faith.

While worshiping God in private moments is important, seeking a worship community is also essential. These unestablished connections can dampen the motivation Christians need to spread the gospel throughout the nations.

Examining Christ’s Actions

Moments of solitude should not be condemned. These are the times when you need to be quiet with God. Having intimate moments in the quiet, whether through praying or reading the Bible, is also an essential way to grow your relationship with God.

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus talks about praying privately in the Bible: “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Jesus also goes out to pray in solitude in Mark 1:35.

However, Jesus spent more time surrounded by His people. In Matthew 4:23, Jesus teaches in the synagogues: “Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.”

Jesus built relationships with His people, which is why it’s so important for us to have a relationship with Him today.

Establishing Relationships in the Church

Having faith-based relationships is important, but friendship with God is the most important. Jim McDermott, who wrote an article titled “Relationships are essential for health and happiness. What about a friendship with God?” for America Magazine, mentions one of the ways to have a friendship with God is to “slow down and savor.”

“The more we can slow ourselves down, the more we are able to be present to the moment,” McDermott wrote.

Through solitude, we are able to slow down and stay connected with God. These are the moments reserved for walking slower and digesting God’s word. The slower moments are what help us truly get to know God.

Solitude may help us center our lives around God, but the Church needs connections with others. The Church is the body of Christ; without community and connection, it will die. Christians can’t spread the gospel alone.

In Mark 16:15, Jesus tells His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Moments of solitude should be encouraged, not condemned — but isolation from the Church should be only temporary.

Photo by Patrick Fore for Unsplash.