church for a non-church-goer - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2014, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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church for a non-church-goer

I struggle with this. I am Christian, and I grew up Christian. While I lived under my parents' roof I went to church every Sunday and attended Sunday school since the day I was born. I was fine with this. After I moved out and went to college I began to go to church less and less on my own, but despite this my faith strengthened. My faith became my own, outside of the confines of organized religion. I have great spiritual discussions with my friends of varying faiths and pray daily. Some of my beliefs and biblical viewpoints differ from mainstream Christianity. This probably further perpetuates me shying away from regularly attending a church.

If I am visiting my parents (or inlaws) on a Sunday or religious holiday, we go to church. I do enjoy this. And on a rare occasion will attend a church on my own. I did this more often where we lived before (probably once a month), but since moving here I haven't found a church that I really like... probably find myself in a sanctuary 2 or 3 times a year. My husband grew up the same way as me, and also seems to feel similar now about not needing to attend. Though I know his personal faith has dwindled, so that's where we differ.

ANyways, the point of this thread is sort of to those who also feel like this, or to any Christian for that matter. Am I missing out? If I don't feel a huge desire to attend a church regularly, should I just leave it at that? Or should I push myself to go? Should I push my husband to go with me? For those that know my story they know he isn't here a lot, so I know that this would fall into the category of mostly a personal decision rather than a decision for our marriage. I'm just not sure how I feel additionally about being a regular attender as a married single person.

I do know it can be a wonderful community of support, but at the same time I do feel rather private and selective about who knows about my personal life. I also don't know if me not being as conservative or legalistic about my beliefs could cause tension and/or make it impossible for me to integrate. I don't want to be judged. The churches here are small and in the midst of the bible belt. I'm not sure if they have what I am looking for. The church that I attended before we moved was a large non-denominational church that was very modern in its worship and sermons. I didn't involve myself in any groups there though, just attended the services once every month or 2. They were very uplifting.

I'm not sure if I'm wondering if this will help more for myself or for my marriage. Or even if I should change my views. I don't know. Thoughts from my fellow believers?

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2014, 01:03 PM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

Only you can decide what is right for you.

Live your life for you.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2014, 01:04 PM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

I've felt like this before, and went for several years without going to church. I wanted to get back in, mainly to give my kids a good foundation, but struggled to find a church that clicked with me. Eventually I found one that that worked for me. What made it click for me was that they actually focused on things that seemed relevant to my life. Not just teaching me about the story of Jonah for example, but why the story actually is still relevant today in a real world context.

Additionally, the congregation seems legitimately friendly and non-judgmental, which is a big plus for me.

Darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me! --- Sebastian
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2014, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellybeans View Post
Only you can decide what is right for you.

Live your life for you.
Part of making decisions for ourselves is gathering information and hearing from other people about their experiences in similar situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fozzy View Post
I've felt like this before, and went for several years without going to church. I wanted to get back in, mainly to give my kids a good foundation, but struggled to find a church that clicked with me. Eventually I found one that that worked for me. What made it click for me was that they actually focused on things that seemed relevant to my life. Not just teaching me about the story of Jonah for example, but why the story actually is still relevant today in a real world context.

Additionally, the congregation seems legitimately friendly and non-judgmental, which is a big plus for me.
See, I don't even have any kids yet and yet for some reason it has been on my heart lately about whether or not I "need" church. I wonder if it will help my marriage, but a bigger part of me wonders if it will help me.

And to the bolded, I so agree! There are 2 different types of sermon delivering in that sense. I grew up in the first kind; biblical stories and principles in a sort of historical and fact delivering format. And then the other kind which I enjoy more which is application of said biblical stories and principles into your own daily life. The church where I lived before was very much so the latter.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2014, 02:07 PM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

If you're not really the type to get involved with the congregation on a personal level, I can see your point about wanting to avoid smaller churches. Maybe look around the internet--some churches offer their services via podcast or even live stream. This gives you a chance to "sample the goods" without that awkward acclimation period.

Darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me! --- Sebastian
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 12:49 AM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

Going to church doesn't make you a good Christian. You do that on your own. I've seen people go to church regularly, but aren't actually good Christians, or nice people, for that matter.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 12:57 AM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

For reference, I don't attend church at all anymore.

I actually went to service a short while ago, in a new setting. The service was mostly a group of four people up front playing guitar, singing songs about god with lyrics I'm sure they were just making up on the spot. And really bad singing voices. And a lot of people in the pews raising and waving thier hands in the air complementing how god must have been there with them this morning because they found the brand of orange juice at the store that they usually get.

Seriously?

Well. Whatever. They obviously found a place of ritual that they bonded to. Me? It seemed too cultish for me at the time.

And, no...I didn't drink the orange juice....
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 10:18 AM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

I don't think you have to go to church, but I think it is important to be in community with other believers. Christianity is not meant to be lived in a bubble. To know and be known is an important part of the whole thing.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-13-2014, 05:46 PM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

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I don't think you have to go to church, but I think it is important to be in community with other believers. Christianity is not meant to be lived in a bubble. To know and be known is an important part of the whole thing.


Totally agree with this. The difficult part sometimes is finding a group of people who are there to support and help each other, rather than watch-dog and judge each other.

Darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me! --- Sebastian
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

I don't think it's so much me questioning whether or not a Christian "needs" to attend a church, because I don't really believe that since I (obviously) haven't been doing that for years, yet I still feel strong in my faith. I guess it was more I'm curious what it'd be like to be a part of one again, and it's more figuring out how much I should push myself should I feel uneasy or turned off once I start. Like, if I feel aforementioned emotions after attending a church once or twice should I push myself to continue to go since it is overall a positive thing and may be better in the long run, or should I quit if it doesn't feel like it's for me. That's more what I was inquiring. Because like was mentioned earlier, I feel once I have children I want them to grow up in a church, so it almost feels hypocritical that I have stopped going myself. But I sort of predict that I won't feel super into it the first visit or 2. Who knows! To push myself or not.

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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:53 AM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

I am sure that those who knew me when I went to church would be surprised that I haven't regularly gone for years.

I was extremely involved in church...did the whole gamut. Even studied under some great minds, learning theology, Greek, and Hebrew...and taught adult classes at church, etc. Wife became church secretary...and we were involved so much...but at the same time, we were getting burned out, and my wife had social limitations which hurt us making friends. So, basically, we served wherever we were needed, but were still lonely...especially when we were so young and no one our age were couples. We also had very little money compared to the vast majority of people who were affluent.

Church fell apart after pastor left out of the blue (embezzlement, mainly)...and we fought and stuck it out to help hold the church together until we finally had new leadership installed. That was our cue. Probably would have stayed longer if my wife felt more at home, but new pastor's wife was a complete b**** to her...as was a youth pastor's wife (who constantly pressed my wife about kids...and mentioned to my wife that her being on the pill was tantamount to abortion). It's cool if you go to church and sing and pray and clap, but when you get dirty behind the scenes, you learn a bunch of stuff you wish you didn't know and it loses its magic. That's fine...I'd rather ministry be REAL, but you start to get pissed when you see an uninvolved congregation and see people in need falling through the cracks.

So when we moved away, we were done with church. It felt like such a weight off of our shoulders. Now that I look back it, I don't know if that was the right thing to do, 'cos all I did was work a lot, purposeless, and my wife started slipping away from the marriage...and I wonder if she wouldn't have started the EA's if we hadn't a support system..but the truth was we really didn't have much of a support system while at church...you know, a close group of people that we could SAFELY be honest with and bear each other's burdens. I have always desired to have transparency in my Christian relationships...and it seems like the standard Christian-culture can't handle it.

My best friendships were the people that slugged alongside me at work...many of which weren't believers. I was overjoyed when I got a ministry-type job with at-risk youth. Found a great group of men who believed like I did 'cos most guys who dare to work with messed up kids, addicts, gangbangers...were messed up themselves. I still have those friendships even after I left like 5 years ago. During that time, we've attempted to go back to church, but we have been extremely gunshy...and even now, we still do not go. No, I am not one that believes if you miss church you go to hell, but it certainly helps your "walk" if you surround yourself with supportive friends.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 10:40 AM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

Formerself, you might enjoy this podcast The God Journey - Podcast, Blog, Forum

Your story of basically opening and closing the doors of the church sound a lot like us. I landed in the hospital and no one really cared except i wasn't there for them to hear my pretty voice singing up front. Our faith grew when we stepped out of religion, out of the busyness and just sat and listened. Yes we want community but it wasn't there. Visiting a building does not give one community.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 10:49 AM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

The Unitarian Universalist church sounds like it might be right for you - see if there is one near you and give it a try. You lose nothing if you go and it's not right for you.

Or if you really only seek discussion of spirituality, maybe they have an online forum.

I'm not a religious person, but have some limited experience with religion and churches. Aside from community, being in church gives you an hour a week to step outside yourself and your own head and think of others and think of something other than yourself. It might be helpful to you now as you are dealing with your marital issues.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 01:25 PM
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

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I am sure that those who knew me when I went to church would be surprised that I haven't regularly gone for years.

I was extremely involved in church...did the whole gamut. Even studied under some great minds, learning theology, Greek, and Hebrew...and taught adult classes at church, etc. Wife became church secretary...and we were involved so much...but at the same time, we were getting burned out, and my wife had social limitations which hurt us making friends. So, basically, we served wherever we were needed, but were still lonely...especially when we were so young and no one our age were couples. We also had very little money compared to the vast majority of people who were affluent.

Church fell apart after pastor left out of the blue (embezzlement, mainly)...and we fought and stuck it out to help hold the church together until we finally had new leadership installed. That was our cue. Probably would have stayed longer if my wife felt more at home, but new pastor's wife was a complete b**** to her...as was a youth pastor's wife (who constantly pressed my wife about kids...and mentioned to my wife that her being on the pill was tantamount to abortion). It's cool if you go to church and sing and pray and clap, but when you get dirty behind the scenes, you learn a bunch of stuff you wish you didn't know and it loses its magic. That's fine...I'd rather ministry be REAL, but you start to get pissed when you see an uninvolved congregation and see people in need falling through the cracks.

So when we moved away, we were done with church. It felt like such a weight off of our shoulders. Now that I look back it, I don't know if that was the right thing to do, 'cos all I did was work a lot, purposeless, and my wife started slipping away from the marriage...and I wonder if she wouldn't have started the EA's if we hadn't a support system..but the truth was we really didn't have much of a support system while at church...you know, a close group of people that we could SAFELY be honest with and bear each other's burdens. I have always desired to have transparency in my Christian relationships...and it seems like the standard Christian-culture can't handle it.

My best friendships were the people that slugged alongside me at work...many of which weren't believers. I was overjoyed when I got a ministry-type job with at-risk youth. Found a great group of men who believed like I did 'cos most guys who dare to work with messed up kids, addicts, gangbangers...were messed up themselves. I still have those friendships even after I left like 5 years ago. During that time, we've attempted to go back to church, but we have been extremely gunshy...and even now, we still do not go. No, I am not one that believes if you miss church you go to hell, but it certainly helps your "walk" if you surround yourself with supportive friends.
Everyone loves sausage, but nobody likes to see it made.

Darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me! --- Sebastian
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Re: church for a non-church-goer

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Formerself, you might enjoy this podcast The God Journey - Podcast, Blog, Forum

Your story of basically opening and closing the doors of the church sound a lot like us. I landed in the hospital and no one really cared except i wasn't there for them to hear my pretty voice singing up front. Our faith grew when we stepped out of religion, out of the busyness and just sat and listened. Yes we want community but it wasn't there. Visiting a building does not give one community.
oh my gosh, the bolded really struck me. I never actually had that exact experience, but just the notion of it is something I can relate to. The whole idea of do these people actually care about me in a real world setting? It's easy to be nice to people and say your "hi's" and "how do you do's" after service, but will you really be there when their life is in shambles or seek to understand what they're really about? Yep yep yep. That is something I fear would happen as well. We want to know that when we invest our time and emotions in people, that they will do the same as well.
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