The local church was not a man’s idea that will fade away or be replaced by some so called “new thing” God is now doing. It is a part of the requirements found in Scripture for every person who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior.
Jesus revealed He came to build more than a personal relationship with individuals when He said, “…I will build my church…,” in Matthew 16:18.
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Jesus mission was not just to establish individuals in a personal relationship to Him (like Peter had a revelation of) but also build them together into a relationship with each other (the church, the called out ones). In Matthew 16:18, the Universal Church is revealed here. The Universal Church is a spiritual body in heavenly places of all born again believers everywhere.
The local church is a physical expression of that Universal Church and spiritual body that meets or assembles in a given locality. Neither one was to be viewed separately from the other because what God did spiritually was intended to have impact physically in the earth. In Matthew 18:15-18 the local church is revealed.
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
How could you tell it to the church or remove from your midst an offending person if the church was only the Universal Church? As you can see the Church exists on two levels:
To say you are a part of the Church but you never assemble with a Local Body of Believers in a Local Church is to distort the truth of Scripture. When people were added to the Lord (and the Universal Church) in the Book of Acts they were also added the Local Church Acts 2:40-47. There was no such thing as enjoying salvation in isolation to the Local Church. Be not deceived.