People often reference their personal relationship with God as a replacement for church, community, and/or organized religion. However, this is a false dichotomy.
We enter this world with no knowledge or understanding of God. Without religion we have no concept, no shape, no identity for who God is or how to relate with such a being.
A personal relationship with God does not define who God is. The beliefs we have that shape what we believe of God are passed down to us from some authority. Otherwise, we simply make up whatever we want and claim it divine. This is, in fact, what many of us do.
On that note, a personal relationship with God is not a guide for doctrine or theology. How could it be? Instead it should be what it is called—a personal relationship. To accompany and guide us in our day-to-day lives, in matters of conscience, and to deepen our love of God and the things of God (like, say, the Church).
This doesn’t mean I will personally agree or adhere to everything my particular church or religion teaches, but there is a humility that should accompany my pronouncements on God. Otherwise I begin to form a God in my own image.
It may be that our personal definition of God is the identity we are most comfortable with. But we must then begin with the premise that we are pioneering our own path. Our own brand of faith.
We are creating our own religion.