When I became a Christian aged 49; under the influence of CS Lewis and following his advice, I simply joined the nearest Church of England congregation, and immediately arranged to be confirmed (I had been baptised as a child).
To help confirmation I joined a discussion group at another CoE church down the road.
At this point I simply accepted that being a Christian meant joining, and pledging obedience to, some church or another; so that whatever I was asked to promise in the confirmation ceremony must be right. Anywhere I disagreed, I must change, and it was my job to work towards church doctrine.
So I found no problem in making the confirmation oaths.
Nowadays, I could not do this; partly because I was very quickly forced into discernment among the profoundly disagreeing, mutually hostile, factions of the Church of England, with the two churches I was attending being on opposite and hostile sides.
(This was very fortunate; because in most places in England all Church of England congregations are on the anti-Christian side; I was lucky enough to have a real Christian Anglican church within a mile of my home.)
This situation of 'my' two churches being on opposite sides of the battle, meant that I personally needed to discern (as a matter of urgency) which side was right and which was wrong. I could not be guided by passive obedience to any external standard without prejudging the issue of whose guidance to follow. Even the theological authorities I selected for guidance disagreed on the litmus test issues. It had to be my decision.
Eventually, this worked-through into my realisation that all conscious Christian faith in modern circumstances just-is based-on individual discernment; which means that the nature of Christian life is not what I used to assume.
When Christian life is based-upon (rooted-in) at least one, major and defining, act of individual discernment; then this means that individual discernment has greater authority than any specific and actual church.
This is an unavoidable fact (under modern conditions), and not an assertion.
And as such, it seems to me that we are all required to use individual discernment in our personal Christian life as much as possible; rather than (as is usual) trying to deny it, and trying to pretend that we are merely living in obedience to external authority.
To put it another way, and despite the many pitfalls and dangers of this path; modern Christians ought-to-be explicit that their primary beliefs derive from a direct relationship with God; and not, therefore, from obedience to any particular institution, denomination, Church.
Of course, developing individual discernment in relation to any specific issue takes time and effort; therefore it is an ongoing process, never completed. And in the meantime we will probably want to make a discernment that 'X' (e.g. a church, a pastor, an author...) is a reasonable source of guidance which we will obey (passively, as it were) for the time-being.
But eventually, Modern Man seems to be called to a Christian faith in which the goal is to test and discern each element for our-selves. And a specific, actual, church or Christian group may help this process - may help it a lot. On the other hand, as with the church I first joined, an actual church may confuse, mislead and corrupt the Christian.
Much depends on local conditions.
Most people need a group of some sort in order to function in society; but better no congregation than a false church - better a few, perhaps scattered, companions in Christ, than attempted-obedience to a large and powerful bureaucracy whose leadership are strategically net-evil.
Note: This post is, in part, a response to an ongoing discussion at the blog Dark Brightness (which I read regularly, and would recommend).
I added a further clarification of my position:
My concern is that, in these end times, our psychological need for membership of a group may overwhelm our spiritual need for a *Christian* church; it may be the major temptation, and may be the reason why the devout are perhaps especially vulnerable to Antichrist (as implied by some Biblical prophecies).
It seems that our only defence is to discern well, to learn and practise discernment, and to trust our best and most solid discernment over external authority (*despite* the obvious hazards and dangers of this...)