There are any number of sites around the web where people are putting forth the idea that they can have a Christian life separate from a community of believers. They counter the criticism implied in the scripture "Forsake not the fellowship of the saints" by noting that they can have fellowship by calling a friend, or communicating online.
There is much to be said for this approach, as it does eliminate much of the distraction and dross of congregational life. Certainly the Desert Fathers must be accounted among the true Christians, whether their approach was correct or not. But even the Desert Fathers moved toward a community life of meals and prayers, leading eventually to monasticism. I doubt it ever got quite like this -
but the joke is closer to the truth than people popularly imagine.
Many also returned to society as well, regarding their time in the desert as one of instruction, much as Paul or John the Baptist had done.
But my question is not directed at those who seek a Christian solitude with such intensity, but those who live in the world as before but absent themselves from formal congregations. How do you expect to have growth if you don't have to deal with bad Christians (either amiable folks whose piety is suspect, or difficult folks who are believers)? And how will you deal with bad Christians without good Christians to support you?