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Committed Christian but not involved in church?


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#1 Attolia

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 02:44 PM

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church?

 

How long have you be out of church?

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others?

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Attolia, 11 January 2018 - 02:53 PM.

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#2 Arctic Mama

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:00 PM

I wish I could say I’ve seen this gone well, but fellowship with other believers in a regular gathering of some size is really crucial for a healthy faith. The folks I can think of who left even a small body and teaching group got, rather frankly apathetic or weird. My own experience was temporary, thankfully.

The apathetic ones drifted from the faith and became more generally spiritual, and the weird ones held too strongly to certain doctrines and became imbalanced. I don’t have a ton of experience with this, but some. And in my own life, when I was away from the church, I was one of the apathetic ones - left the church as a teen after a nasty split and family issues. I was outside a congregation and not involved for about five years.

I wish I had better news for you. My best advice, without it getting into scriptural edicts about the corporate body of Christ, is that having at least a regular bible study group and accountability with a few other individuals is crucial and helpful and very rewarding. It can have pitfalls but I’d say that’s the bare minimum for spiritual health :)

Good luck with this 👍

Edited by Arctic Mama, 11 January 2018 - 03:02 PM.

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#3 Ravin

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:06 PM

Not a Christian, but I have been consistently committed in my own faith most of my adult life, while several times have drifted away from community participation/worship. For me, this was because for a while I didn't have access to a religious community that suited me (like when I was stationed on a ship overseas in the Navy), and for a while I found sufficient social outlets with hobbies instead. Over time, though, I found that my personal spiritual growth did suffer in isolation, some political junk got me fed up with the hobby (though not with all the friends I made through it), and the kids needed some connections, so that's the main reason I stepped back in to participation in my faith community.

 


Edited by Ravin, 11 January 2018 - 04:27 PM.

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#4 texasmom33

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:44 PM

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church?

Became aware of some extremely un-Christian activity and behavior throughout a church network. It soured me on "organized" churches for almost a decade. Coupled with having attended an authoritarian leaning private relgious school with instructors who used religion as a hammer, I have had a lot of trouble being in a church for most of my life. 

 

How long have you be out of church?

This may disqualify me from what you're looking for. We recently have started attending church in the last six months. We wanted to for the kids, to give them the experience and the ritual as we do think there are more positives than negatives if we are involved and vigilent. . We shopped churches for a while and have settled on a Lutheran church for now (what I grew up in), but are not looking to jump into membership at this time. Dh grew up evangelical- and those type churches are where I had the bad experiences. 

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others?

I don't think it has, except for maybe wishing for a support group/church family, but I think I've idealized what that would ever be versus what would be the reality. 

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

Not directly, but when I meet someone who is, I definitely take advantage of having that aspect of the relationship to be able to share, if that makes sense. Like praying for one another, etc. Those relationships are also probably closer than with my agnostic/atheist friends because of that. 

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

We've returned for now. We'll see how it goes. I think churches in the US as it stands- especially massive, money machine churches like we have in TX, are not so cut and dry as people like to think they are. There are a lot of complications. It's not necessarily, "you have to go to church to be Christian."  I just don't agree with that, especially when there's a ton of underground stuff going that the general congregation might not know about. And let's face it- there have been a LOT of scandals over the last decade or two. A lot of people hurt. And the churches haven't necessarily done "the right thing to reconcile." The smaller churches where I am tend to be (pardon me, but it's true) a little suspicious. There are some wingnut churches around here. And some that are extremely legalistic, to put it nicely? So I think it can be a very complicated issue. Not many people are in a place where 100 people can gather around with the pastor everyone knows, no questionable finaces, no questionable political stances. etc. etc. Just my take.........I think God knows where we are at spiritually, and He's certainly powerful enough to lead us where we need to be and where he wants us to be, formal congregant member or no. 

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

 


Edited by texasmom33, 11 January 2018 - 03:44 PM.

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#5 marbel

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:50 PM

I tried to maintain my Christianity over many years of not going to church, unsuccessfully. It became easier and easier to just ignore God altogether.  It didn't help that once I wanted to get back to it, I tried to find the mythical perfect fit church.  After that not working for a while, I stopped again.   I didn't get back to it till my husband and I were talking about marriage; he was in the same place as me and we ended up committing to go back.  It felt good to be back. 


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#6 Nemom

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:54 PM

Stepped away from the non denominational church I was attending weekly a few years ago.  

 

What caused me to make the decision-one Sunday our praise band was playing a song from the radio that I knew all of the words too.  I looked around and noticed that hardly anyone else was singing.  I started judging all of my fellow churchgoers.  How could they not know the words?  The song had been played on Klove and other christian stations for months.  They clearly were not "good" christians and were just there to warm the seats on Sunday morning.  

 

Yeah, God gave me a great big wake call right then and there.  I spent some time thinking about it for awhile and realized that it was only after I had started attending church on a regular basis that I started judging fellow believers.  It was the constant messages of you are not a good christian unless you are a weekly church goer, 10% tither, daily bible reader, etc...  that had changed my attitude.  Prior to that if someone had told me they were a believer my response was, "great, me too."  No judgement.  

 

I realized the total faith I had before had been replaced with a works attitude.  I left the church and haven't looked back.  I actually feel closer to God again.  My faith has been restored and I don't worry about what other people are doing.  

 

I have a small group of friends (4) who have similar beliefs and we meet once a month to talk about our faith and anything that God has shown us over the last month.  It is the best church I have ever attended!

 

ETA: We attended church on Christmas Eve but I do not foresee myself returning weekly any time soon.  God lives within me not the four walls of some building.


Edited by Nemom, 11 January 2018 - 03:56 PM.

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#7 Catwoman

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:58 PM

I wish I could say I’ve seen this gone well, but fellowship with other believers in a regular gathering of some size is really crucial for a healthy faith. The folks I can think of who left even a small body and teaching group got, rather frankly apathetic or weird. My own experience was temporary, thankfully.

The apathetic ones drifted from the faith and became more generally spiritual, and the weird ones held too strongly to certain doctrines and became imbalanced. I don’t have a ton of experience with this, but some. And in my own life, when I was away from the church, I was one of the apathetic ones - left the church as a teen after a nasty split and family issues. I was outside a congregation and not involved for about five years.

I wish I had better news for you. My best advice, without it getting into scriptural edicts about the corporate body of Christ, is that having at least a regular bible study group and accountability with a few other individuals is crucial and helpful and very rewarding. It can have pitfalls but I’d say that’s the bare minimum for spiritual health :)

Good luck with this 👍


I must say that although I don’t doubt what you’re saying you have personally witnessed, my experience has been entirely different. I know many people, including family members, who are very spiritual and religious people, yet they do not attend church. It hasn’t made them apathetic or “weird” at all. My dh and I haven’t attended church in many years, but our beliefs haven’t changed, and we don’t feel that we need to attend a church to have a relationship with God.

I’m sure we all know many people who don’t attend church regularly, and we really have no way of knowing whether or not they worship and pray in their own way at home.

I don’t believe any of us is in a position to suggest what anyone’s “bare minimum” requirement should be for “spiritual health,” unless we are only talking about our own personal requirements.

(Edited for very weird typos thanks to my iPad’s autocorrect feature. :) )

Edited by Catwoman, 11 January 2018 - 04:04 PM.

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#8 PeachyDoodle

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:09 PM

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church?

 

There were a number of factors, the most important being that we didn't like the direction our church was taking theologically. We felt that the underlying philosophies of the church had changed and were no longer biblical. These changes were driven by the pastor, and they also resulted in a shift in the personality/atmosphere of the church. Things that remained important to us (for example, pastoral care) were no longer a priority. I'm sorry if that's vague. I can give more details but am afraid of being offensive to someone.

 

How long have you be out of church?

 

We were in and out for about 4 years. We visited multiple churches in the area but couldn't find anyplace that seemed to fit us. We tried a couple of different times to go back to our old church, but we couldn't take it. We finally joined a church 30 minutes away just before Christmas.

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others?

 

It was a very lonely time for me personally. I am a naturally curious/studious person, so I did a lot of my own Bible study, listened to podcasts and sermons, and talked with other believers online. My unease with the theological changes at our old church drove me to scripture to see what the Bible actually says. My faith and understanding grew by leaps and bounds during that time, but it wasn't easy. I never felt comfortable with being away from the church. And neither my dh nor my kids was getting fed much at all because they didn't have the time/resources to seek out teaching like I did (although my kids have overheard hours of podcasts, so honestly I think they got more out of that than their years in the old church). I worried constantly -- we couldn't expose them to false teaching at the churches available to us, but we didn't want them to grow up without a church home either.

 

Friend-wise, very few people at our former church seemed to understand why we left. None of them made an effort to stay in touch afterwards. This includes the pastor and his wife, who were our neighbors and friends once upon a time. We tried to be gracious and loving while still being honest about the problems we saw there, but most everyone seemed to think we were just crazy. Ironically, I got an invite not long ago from an acquaintance to come check out her new church. Three guesses where it was.

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

 

We had a Bible study/house church thing for awhile with another family who left at the same time we did. It was fine but bothered me because there was no pastor and the two of us wives did all the teaching. It fizzled out and for a long time we bounced around intermittently, taking long breaks between church visits because we didn't know what else to do. Almost all of our spiritual care in that time came from people we'd met online. We were actually part of a congregation that met online for awhile before joining our new church. It wasn't perfect but it filled the gap.

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

 

Answered above. At the beginning, I honestly didn't know if I could go back to church. I am beyond grateful that we have been able to do so, however.

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

 

Prayers for you. It is not an easy decision. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat.

 


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#9 Arctic Mama

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:11 PM

Respectfully, Cat, I disagree :) And the Bible is pretty clear on this, though Attolia asked us to not retread all the scriptural reasons for it.

I have yet to meet an amazing, firm, growing believer who isn’t in the Bible regularly, with accountability with others. It doesn’t even have to be a big or formal thing. I don’t know the whole world, but I do know my experience, my circle of people, and what scripture has to say on the matter.

I was happy to get back to a body, but it had to be the right one at the right time in my life. Those years away were needed and necessary for what God had for me. But it was a season, and had an end point. Attolia, I hope you find some answers that fit the season you’re in :)

Edited by Arctic Mama, 11 January 2018 - 04:14 PM.

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#10 Catwoman

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:18 PM

Respectfully, Cat, I disagree :) And the Bible is pretty clear on this, though Attolia asked us to not retread all the scriptural reasons for it.

I have yet to meet an amazing, firm, growing believer who isn’t in the Bible regularly, with accountability with others. It doesn’t even have to be a big or formal thing. I don’t know the whole world, but I do know my experience, my circle of people, and what scripture has to say on the matter.

I was happy to get back to a body, but it had to be the right one at the right time in my life. Those years away were needed and necessary for what God had for me. But it was a season, and had an end point. Attolia, I hope you find some answers that fit the season you’re in :)


We will have to agree to disagree, because I completely and entirely disagree with your statements and find what you’re saying to be incredibly judgmental.

I’ll leave the judging of others and their spirituality to God, and I would suggest that you might want to consider trying to do the same. :)
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#11 J-rap

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:20 PM

We haven't been part of a physical church community for a couple years now.  We live in a small town, and just could no longer find a church here that could meet our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual needs.  That sounds really selfish and normally church is certainly not all about us, but we had gone through a major devastating event and had pretty much lost all energy for anything unless it was life-giving for us right then.  

 

I'd say that as we have taken these past few years to adjust to our new lives and really hone in on what our faith is now, it has become stronger, more meaningful, and clearer than ever before.  I have read more books on theology these past two years than I have all previous years in my life put together.  I am in a better, stronger, more peaceful place as a Christ follower now than I have ever been.

 

I listen to a lot of on-line sermons, read Christian blogs, go to a couple churches that I DO really like when we are visiting out-of-town, read a lot of theology, discuss our responsibility as Christians a lot with my family and close friends, and attend conferences.  Someday I would love to be part of a church community again.  That probably won't happen until we move, which we anticipate in a year or two.


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#12 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:23 PM

Sometimes people need a break from organized religion, just to take a fresh grip on not being smug and judgmental - exactly the kind of thing Nemom was talking about. Get out of the bubble and reconnect with our neighbors and with our own beliefs...if Christianity (or any religion or ideology) interferes with basic humanity, we may be doing it wrong, so a step back is not the same as a step toward hell.
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#13 TheReader

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:25 PM

Have not read other replies yet, so as not to color my answers. 

 

Also, am answering from a place of "currently a sporadic-trying-to-be-faithful church attender" with long periods of "stopped being involved" at more than one time in my past; will answer based on those times, I hope that's okay. Since you included is this/was this temporary, I took it to mean you would welcome thoughts from those who've BTDT but not currently doing it. 

 

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church?

 

How long have you be out of church?

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others?

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

What events stopped me/us being involved? 

 

First time, having a preemie. He was a borderline micro-preemie, it was cold/flu season, and then he was in nearly weekly therapies. And then he was a BUSY BUSY BUSY toddler. And then we'd just been out of church for so long, it was weird and hard to go back. And then it morphed right into the second time, which was because we moved to Brazil and couldn't find church in English, didn't have enough Portuguese at the start to try church, and then when we did, it was still so mentally exhausting to expend a full hour focusing hard on such topics in a non-native language. 

 

How long were you out of church?

 

The first time was periods of 6 to 12 months, interspersed with periods of attending for a month or three, back & forth from the time youngest was born to the time we moved to Brazil 2.5 years later. 

 

The second (Brazil) lasted more or less all of our time in Brazil, with a period of maybe 3 to 6 months attendance sprinkled here and there, but mostly not. We were in Brazil for a little over 6 years. 

 

Side note: 

 

Mixed into both of the above topics is also the fact that DH & I "grew up" Baptist, switched to a "Methodist" (but really a church following that really popular seeker friendly movement, I forget the name of it, from the mid/late 90s...) church, and then when we moved the first time we had NO IDEA what denomination we identified with anymore. We didn't want to be Baptist anymore, for sure. We didn't fit actual Methodist beliefs either. We kind of felt non-denominational, but nothing in our new town fit that. We landed, in that town, on a church we thought fit, and we loved the people there, and needed that, desperately, but when it became harder to attend.....it was easy to stop. 

 

In Brazil, aside from no English options, we didn't even recognize the few Protestant options available, so again...easy to just not. 

 

We had very much reached a point, and it only deepened, where we identified as Christians......but not so much with any brand of church-goers. Even now, that's still how we'd identify. We attend, with semi-regularity sometimes, but specifically have not joined as members. 

 

How has this changed our life/relationship with God/friendship with others?

 

We're in a pretty "Bible Belt" part of the country, so it's definitely odd at times. Our kids attend a Christian based home school enrichment thing, and we skip over some of the content in the texts used, and find ourselves more liberal than some in the group. We attend church often enough we know some people, but sporadically enough that others assume we're guests when they see us....and I can tell that a lot of folks wonder if we're still coming to church, are things okay, why have we stopped attending.....our long period of not attending in a way deepened our relationships (individually) with God, peeled away any legalism that might have been remaining, but definitely is a hard thing for our church-going friends to understand. 

 

Neither dh nor I really feels, these days, that church attendance and corporate worship is a necessary ingredient to following Christ, although I'll admit we also haven't been as proactive with teaching the kids as we maybe should have been. 

 

Our pastor, thankfully, seems to get us and never harasses us about going weeks (months sometimes) without coming, and never bats an eye when we show up again. He seems to understand, and is a rare one who does, that God can be a priority in my life even if church is not. 

 

Do we do anything to try and meet with other believers? 

 

Well, we sometimes attend church. I sometimes attend a ladies' Bible Study. We have friends who are believers and hang out with them. We don't go out of our way, though, to make any of those things happen, and during the times we were completely out of church, we definitely didn't. We did in those days spend more time as a family reading the Bible, and the adults/older teens in the family all have some form of personal time with God, on some level. Not daily or anything, nothing rigid, but basically we've distilled Christianity down to a personal relationship with God.....and each of us personally maintains that in whatever way makes sense. 

 

Where we lived in Brazil, it would have been hard to find other believers (at least among the ex-pats; our good friends were Jewish, and the next set of friends were unbelievers of some variety, but not sure what, we never discussed it), so we just relied on our family unit to be our "gathering together" time. It was enough, and it's a lot of why we just haven't, even in 4 years, been able to fully commit to the idea of "be there every Sunday, or else" attendance. 

 

Is this temporary?
 

Well, since we're sporadic attenders now, I guess that's yes. I don't think we will ever return to "you better be there" mentality we had when we first got together, dh & I. I still don't 100% think either of us identifies with any one particular denomination, and don't think we ever will; going through such a long period of not being in a church....not having a church to be a part of even if we'd wanted to....really stripped us of all the conventions, traditions, and identifying markers of any denomination over the other, and we found on the other side we prefer that. 

 

We like the church we attend now, but it's one of those denominations that is independent, not all governed by a larger body, so it's not certain we could move to a different church of this same brand and find the same contentment there. If anything happened that made us stop attending this current church, I'm not sure if we'd go back to looking or just go back to "home church" as it were. We're very much in a place where God is a priority.....church is not, so much. I don't see that side of things changing.


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#14 8circles

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:41 PM

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church? I have not entirely stepped away from church - I still attend pretty regularly but have stepped away from anything more than that. I hope that my answers will be relevant. I felt the need for distance because of a certain thread running through Xianity which I find heretical and there are/were some other congregants which very vocally endorsed this thread. 

 

How long have you be out of church? I started stepping away about 1.5/2 years ago.

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others? It has troubled me that I felt the separation was necessary. But I have felt some relief and having the space to think and breathe has been good for my soul. It has been 100% good for my relationship with God and I've never been as at peace as I am now. I feel like I've finally been able to exhale and give my faith over to God more than ever. I have paid the price in losing friendships with people who had bare minimums which I don't meet.

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers? Yes - I do still attend church fairly regularly so maybe my answers won't be relevant. I do this more for consistency & convenience within my family. I also don't find attending services to be harmful at the moment - if I did I would not attend.

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church? I do expect to become more involved in church at some point. I expect it to be at the same church/denomination as I am at currently but that could change.

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

I know that this is a really difficult place to be but I encourage you to push through the struggle, no matter where you end up in the end.

 

We will have to agree to disagree, because I completely and entirely disagree with your statements and find what you’re saying to be incredibly judgmental.

I’ll leave the judging of others and their spirituality to God, and I would suggest that you might want to consider trying to do the same. :)

There is a belief by some that not only is this kind of judgment allowed, but that it is required in order to be faithful. 


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#15 loowit

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:43 PM

I am hesitant to answer this question.  It is a very personal experience and hard when I feel like I am judged as a less than Christian for having left the institutional church.

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church?

There was a huge, very nasty church split when I was in college at the church that I grew up in.  It left me questioning a lot of things, not my faith, but the institutional aspects of the church.  I got married not too long after that and DH and I started attending and working with the church where he had done his student ministry during Bible college.  We attended there for two years and left partially due to moving out the area and partly due to a difference of opinion with the leadership.  The preaching elder and his family left about the same time.  After that we looked a bit and started attending another church where my brother and his wife were attending.  We had friends there and got involved with the youth ministry. We ended up leaving there due to corruption with the pastor and the church board, which I was a part of at the time.  After that we stopped going anywhere.  I was burnt out on church and church politics.  We then got involved in a home church a couple years later.  It was a great group, but because it was so far from home it was hard to keep up, especially when they all started moving into the same neighborhood and it wasn't really and option for us.  After that we quit church altogether for quiet a few years.  We tried a few times to start going again, but never really found a church home.  Then about the time the kids started to get older we decided to give it one more try.  We found a church that has an active youth group, and we have attended there for almost 2 years now.  I am not really happy there to be honest. And I haven't actually gone to a Sunday service in a few months.  Partly due to illness and partly due to not really wanting to.  I feel bad, but I am not sure really what to do.  I feel like I made a mistake in joining there when i was already questioning their doctrine, but I wanted someplace for my kids to meet other Christians and form friendships.

 

How long have you be out of church?

The longest outside the institutional was about 15 years.

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others?

Relationship with God: I think in some ways it is stronger because I am more likely the seek Him out rather than rely on "going to church" or listening to sermons and calling it good.  Relationship with friends:  harder mostly - feeling judged about not attending.  feeling like they think I am "backslidden", or not able to be a Christian if I don't attend weekly services.  I do have some friends that "get it" but still think I am wrong.  My parents are disappointed in me and worry about my kids not growing up "in the church".

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

I have in the past, but it is difficult to find others that are open to meeting and talking about God and things of God.  I would love to find some other Christian to meet with like our house church we attended, but I havn't found many in our area that are interested.

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

Right now I am still working out what our plan for the future is.  I am reading "Pagan Christianity" at the moment, and it is very interesting.  I also have "Re-imagining the Church" that I am planning to read.  DH and I have talked a bit about it.  I think once the kids are out of the house we may do another "church shopping" expedition.  I don't want to do that to them at the stages they are now.  There is also a possibility that we will move closer to DH's work in the next few years which might open up other possibilities.  What I would really love is to find a group of believer that we can discuss things of God, the Bible, and other issues and really wrestle with the deep truths of God together, building each other up in the Lord.  We have had that a few times in my life, one was our college age group when I was in college, another was at Bible college when we would meet up after classes and on evenings and just chat.  I really miss those times and would love to find that closeness and openness again. 


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#16 texasmom33

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:48 PM

Respectfully, Cat, I disagree :) And the Bible is pretty clear on this, though Attolia asked us to not retread all the scriptural reasons for it.

I have yet to meet an amazing, firm, growing believer who isn’t in the Bible regularly, with accountability with others. It doesn’t even have to be a big or formal thing. I don’t know the whole world, but I do know my experience, my circle of people, and what scripture has to say on the matter.

I was happy to get back to a body, but it had to be the right one at the right time in my life. Those years away were needed and necessary for what God had for me. But it was a season, and had an end point. Attolia, I hope you find some answers that fit the season you’re in :)

 

I have to wonder how much technology has changed this though. There are televised services everywhere now. We have entire places here where you can sit in a coffee shop like atmosphere with other people and watch a church service from CO. Or you can watch at home online. Does that count as attendance? What about watching Joyce Meyer or someone daily on a video podcast? And then there are the sign ups where you can be on online study groups. 

 

I agree with you on the thought that a person who isn't in the BIble regularly part not being able to have growth, but there are plenty of people in churches who aren't in the scripture regularly and simply being in the pew with them isn't necessarily going to encourage growth either. It is so congregation/organization/pastor dependent.  I also think in this day and age it is easier to find sound teaching and community so many other places beyond church. And although the internet or sharing a prayer over a phone or skype service isn't necessarily the same experience as being in a congregation together, I don't think it's necessarily lesser. I'm not sure what the Lord's technicalities are on gathering together, but if someone is deep in Bible study and all/most of their community happens to be online, I don't think that exempts them from growth. 


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#17 PeachyDoodle

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:58 PM

I have to wonder how much technology has changed this though. There are televised services everywhere now. We have entire places here where you can sit in a coffee shop like atmosphere with other people and watch a church service from CO. Or you can watch at home online. Does that count as attendance? What about watching Joyce Meyer or someone daily on a video podcast? And then there are the sign ups where you can be on online study groups. 

 

I agree with you on the thought that a person who isn't in the BIble regularly part not being able to have growth, but there are plenty of people in churches who aren't in the scripture regularly and simply being in the pew with them isn't necessarily going to encourage growth either. It is so congregation/organization/pastor dependent.  I also think in this day and age it is easier to find sound teaching and community so many other places beyond church. And although the internet or sharing a prayer over a phone or skype service isn't necessarily the same experience as being in a congregation together, I don't think it's necessarily lesser. I'm not sure what the Lord's technicalities are on gathering together, but if someone is deep in Bible study and all/most of their community happens to be online, I don't think that exempts them from growth. 

 

I think there's something to what you're saying. I know that for me being able to access biblically sound teaching was almost impossible in our immediate area, but a cinch online. I also found that faithful pastors were more than willing to correspond with me via email and even by Skype to help me learn and grow. There is a subset of pastors out there who know that finding a sound church is becoming more and more difficult and see it as part of their ministry to help those who are in the wilderness, so to speak. There are also an abundance of online communities of people who are going through what many of us are experiencing. 

 

I will say that I felt the loss of physical community more and more as I became involved in online communities -- much more than I would have thought. I am not a person who likes much social interaction! I was very surprised by this and relieved when we found a fellowship within driving distance.


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#18 Arctic Mama

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:04 PM

Joyce Meyer aside, I do think technology has helped. However I don’t personally feel like it is an adequate substitute, especially with things like church discipline, prayer, discipleship, etc.

I suppose I should caveat that I barely attend church now - maybe 30% of the time, because of the medical stuff with Benny. So even all my past experiences aside, this is somewhat fresher for me than I’d like. But my husband and kids still go and I still have strong and active ties to our new church, so it’s just a season (again) where I can’t actively attend. I do experience that this is sub par, but I’m not out of it enough that I feel myself sliding into blah land. So that’s something.

I do try to pick podcasts and books that are more theological and spiritually incisive than feel good and encouraging, because I need that iron sharpening iron even in absentia. That’s not something I think is particularly prescriptive so much as my preference, though.

Edited by Arctic Mama, 11 January 2018 - 05:06 PM.

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#19 Seasider

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:04 PM

Sometimes people need a break from organized religion, just to take a fresh grip on not being smug and judgmental - exactly the kind of thing Nemom was talking about. Get out of the bubble and reconnect with our neighbors and with our own beliefs...if Christianity (or any religion or ideology) interferes with basic humanity, we may be doing it wrong, so a step back is not the same as a step toward hell.


I concur. Church - as an organized institution, especially the somewhat independent American evangelical variety - can be very insulated. IME, teachings and attitudes can actually skew away from the grace that Christ Jesus demonstrates in the Bible (even though the word "grace" is commonly heard). Church in those days of its origin was much more organic than what we've made it into.

OP, I have had times of drift (and good reasons for such in witnessing abuse of authority), but honestly, I feel anchored when I'm part of a church or parachurch organization that offers regular opportunity for gathering together, worshipping together, learning together, serving together. It gives me a sense of more authenticity walking out my faith. That regular touchstone is important to me.
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#20 Liz CA

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:43 PM

I had periods where I haven't gone due to a variety of reasons, mobility issues, etc.

During one of those times, I was going through various parts of the Bible while I was grieving the death of a relative and dear friend. I seemed to need some alone time, some processing time, some time to be reflecting without a lot of noise around me.

 

Church politics often get in the way too. We attended a nice church, then the pastor changed and with it came many other changes. I do want to go back because I am not attending for the pastor and need to step over those hurdles. Most recently was a time (last 2 years) when I worked weekends. I still went to small groups until the group dissolved. My schedule has thankfully just changed. I think I will dip my toe in with some smaller groups again first. Maybe I will feel this is all I can do right now or maybe I will attend a full service again. 

I do not feel alienated from God or fellow believers since we are still regularly in contact with friends.

Technology has changed some of this since you can watch a service at home, however, I get the part where you are not interacting with people when you choose broadcasts.

 

I would not say I was ever in a crisis of faith but perhaps in a crisis of church?  :glare:


Edited by Liz CA, 11 January 2018 - 05:45 PM.

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#21 Cafelattee

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:05 PM

I'm not interested in debate or judgement just sharing with the op.  

 

i'm a very committed evangelical Christian.  I'm open about my faith at work.  I'm well read in theology.  In general I live my faith.  I visit a church with my mom a few times a year.  I listen to serval online pastors.  I'm have Christian friends that understand I'm not gonna attend their church mainly because I don't' follow one denominations beliefs. 

 

 I don't' attend a church regular,  I will never join a church.  I  have problems with joining especially in my area because to me almost all the folks that join do not actually practice or live the tenants of their membership.  It just seem false.

 

The southern Baptist in my community are the funniest.  Everyone attends causes it a small community. If you want to participle in their activity then you have to join.  Yet I've not meet one person that attends that doesn't drink alcohol  LOL. Which is a big one for them.  I have no problem with Christian drinking.  But I find it in bad taste when church members joining the club but not living the clubs tenants kwim  (yeah churches in the bible belt are social clubs.  I seriously  doubt half of them have even read the bible) 

 

So the last church attending full time was a Free Will Baptist  church.  This place was full of people that walked their faith.  I really enjoyed it.  But not making this up- the pastor  did a few things that came across as flirting with me.  I didn't  take it that way but his wife did.  It also seem that he had dreamed about me and said my name in his sleep.  LOL

 

She was not happy.  I was being froze out of church activity.  I didn't know any of this was going on.  I found out about a year after leaving.  

 

I'm just done with church organization .   I will visit and attend but will never get involved again.  My previous church before the jealous pastor wife. I left when the church split and fell apart after  the pastor molested one of his kids.  The one before that the southern Baptist Sundays school didnt'  like my views .  I called them out on interracial marriage is a sin.  They then started talking Noah ark  and 2 of each kind.  its a sin for interracial marriage.  SO I was froze out.  I didn't' even bring the subject up in a controversial way.  I just pointed out new testament scriptures that I believe support of interracial relationship.  Anyway got froze out after that.  Lets see the church before that the pastor had an affair with the deacon wife and left.  I've got more cause I was raised in church.  SO church has been part of my life since I was  toddler.  I only took you back 20 years of my 47year life LOL  But I'm not totally giving up on church.  I just would need to drive over a hour to have other church choices right now. 

 

Seriously  its sound comical so I get why non Christians  don't respect Christianity .  I still love Jesus, share his love and bible.

 

I hope one day to find a church that's really living the faith.  SO i'm not closed to the idea of church but have not had a church family since 2011

 

Blessing to each of you.  There will always be times in the desert in our Christian  walk.  I'm happy and have a peaceful spirit . But I know other Christian  may loose faith or become discourage without a church family.

 

 

 

 


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#22 flyingaway

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:30 PM

We took a break of about two years. We were overseas and just gave up. There were services available, but I got tired of my girls hearing ridiculous things from the pulpit and my oldest daughter's takeaways from several months of youth group were "don't be gay" and "it's ok to judge people." Neither of which we agree with.

Honestly, the break for us was the best thing for our faith because we were starting to be disgusted by Christians. We don't worship the Bible and don't need to be "in it" with others to love God and love our neighbors.

We have returned to church attendance now. It is joyful and loving and really highlights what was wrong with the churches we had available to us.
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#23 Aura

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:40 PM

I guess I would first have to ask what you're looking for when you define "committed Christian," more for your own benefit than mine. 

 

I don't need religion for me to be committed to following Christ. I don't need to be in a church. I think it is good to "fellowship" with people who have the same worldview, but that hardly means I need to be in a church. I think the whole idea of needing to be in church is from (1) tradition (and the inability to think beyond that), (2) control, and (3) money. 

 

I do see benefits of church, so I'm not knocking it completely, but IME anyone that says that you have to do anything to be a committed Christian is full of hooey. Following Christ is all about attitude and how you treat others.

 

It's not about sitting in a pew. It's not about being at weekly services. It's not about being on a membership somewhere. 

 

You can use a church as a tool and have it be very helpful in your spiritual life, but it is most certainly not necessary.

 

I have things that I do to grow spiritually, and I have a small group of people--most of them are friends--that I meet with regularly. To some, that might be close enough to having a church. For myself, what's important is being intentional about my spirituality and not just moving through life without also focusing growing spiritually.

 

I don't know very many people who really think like I do, and most of those who do are generally frowned upon as "new-agers" or "pagans" or something else that traditional churches find threatening.  There are a few churches that I think I could get on board with, but I find I require quiet time for myself. My commitment to regular, just-me, quiet, spiritual reflection is more important than weekly church attendance.

 

Full disclosure: I am an introvert, and I know that plays into what I need, as well. 

 

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church? Simple answer: doctrinal differences

 

How long have you be out of church? about five years now

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others? I am not as stressed and much more peaceful. I have a much better relationship with God. I have lost friends and gained others.

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers? Yes, I do try to meet with others who believe similarly to what I believe, or at the least, who are willing to allow me to follow God as I feel led without judging. It's not a church. But we meet regularly.

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church? I don't really see it as temporary. It's possible, but I'm very happy with where I'm at.

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

 

If you're looking for way to help you and your family to grow spiritually, to become or remain committed Christians, my first recommendation is not church, but finding some way that you as a group can help others. Sometimes, churches can provide an outlet to do just that, but oftentimes, not.


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#24 kbutton

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:58 PM

I have not stepped away, but I sometimes do take some short breaks. We did leave our last church way too late--I had become disillusioned by some things that were real, and very prejudicial, but not exactly a black and white issue of theology or people being hypocritical. It's a little hard to explain. What another poster said about being frozen out sort of gets at it--being there felt like a constant personal attack. After we stepped away long enough, my DH could finally see it, but he couldn't while we were there. Others kind of saw it too, and that eventually helped me heal a bit.

 

But anyway, I think sometimes we need to heal from hurts, and going someplace new is still too familiar to be a place to heal. There are too many things that trigger those hurts we experienced.

 

We were fortunate that we found someplace (that we were trying just as a placeholder---we weren't really looking yet) that was a good place to heal. 

 

I think that taking a break can be legitimate. I think it ideally it would be intentional and that it would be best to do something that is a placeholder vs. a replacement while you figure things out. It's super easy to quit something, change one or two circumstances, and never go back to it--and not just church, it could be any habit we change. 

 

This is not to tell you that you should keep doing church, but just some related self-reflection: If I were in the same circumstances I was a few years ago and hadn't landed in a good spot automatically, this is what I think I would do--I would try out a denomination that was a bit out of my comfort zone so that I could break some of the bad associations while totally expecting that I won't be able to agree with everything going on at the new place. I guess this would be giving myself permission to be someplace where I could disagree, but that disagreement wouldn't be personal while also still "going to church." I would feel like I could do social things, but not feel like I should or even could do ministry stuff because I wouldn't want to work against their teachings just because I opted to go someplace "different." (I wouldn't make myself their problem--I would be a guest, and outsider, and an observer, even if I socialized, etc.)

 

If it helps, I think one of the reasons that my new church was such a good landing spot (though not perfect either) is that the pastor spent around a decade of his own life out of church--he got disillusioned and walked. He talks about it freely. I think it made him a different kind of pastor and influences some of the little things about our church. I think that sometimes little things like that can make a difference between walking away and staying. So, if you decide to look for someplace new, you might consider life experience of the leadership in "things to check out."

 

Best wishes. This is such a painful and frustrating thing!


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#25 ktgrok

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:06 PM

I have, for various reasons, including family members that were not willing to attend, etc. And a misguided time of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

 

It did effect me spiritually in some ways. Some may be fine without Church, but I needed that weekly time to remind me of what was important. If nothing else, I needed the regular practice of self sacrifice...of giving up what I thought needed to be done or what I wanted to do in order to dedicate that time to God. Sometimes something I hear at church will move me, or inspire me, but sometimes, it's just proving to myself that it is important. That my whole week is mine and this one hour is not about me. Otherwise I get self important I think. Weekly time set aside keeps me accountable. 

 

Plus, what is kind of crazy, is that my most heavenly moments, for lack of a better word, don't come from the homily or the scriptures being read. It's from the people. It's being there, in the midst of humanity, seeing old and young, sick and healthy, men and women, all different races and ethnicities, people in fancy clothes and men in their paint spattered work clothes, kids in uniforms, all kneeling down to the same God, all drinking from the same cup, all praying the same prayers....that's what gets my cynical, sometimes too rational heart. That's when I see the face of God. So for me, no, I can't get that at home. Nor in a video, or podcast. I have to take my introverted, would rather be curled up with a nice thick book self, half the time looking crappy, feeling guilty about yelling at the kids to get ready self into that Church and SEE it up in my face to get it. THATS what I missed when I wasn't attending. That is why I attend now, even knowing that I will never totally agree with everything any single denomination does or believes. 

 

YMMV. 


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#26 tiddles

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:51 PM

I have been to many different churches and didn't feel right in any of them. Either too luke warm of a message or too focused on tithing, or too loud of a band, whatever.. I would love to find a small, quiet group of folks who like to pray and talk about the bible, and share their gifts of the spirit. I don't agree with hierarchy or really even pastors, because once you have enough people to require leadership, then rules start being made, fundraising begins, and things become too complicated. 

 

I read my bible, pray, watch/listen to sermons online, and visit a couple of favorite websites. But I keep praying to find that group..


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#27 ktgrok

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 08:02 PM

Another thing, and PLEASE no one take this as directed at them. But for ME...when I start finding reasons not to attend church, it's not God that's whispering in my ear. It's that other guy....the one that likes to use VERY sweet sounding logic that on the surface seems very reasonable. The one that preys on my particular forms of pride. So for me, I have to be VERY careful I'm not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Maybe the parish I attend doesn't have the really deep, theological discussions I crave. Neither does the grocery store on Sunday morning, which is the other place I'm likely to be. Yes, I can feel close to God while reading my Bible, or in a meadow looking up at the sky. Great, I should do that. But neither of those are any reason NOT to attend Church. And in all reality, I'll probably do something like fold laundry on Sunday morning, not hike into the mountains and pray.  

 

There's a country song where a guy walks in and finds his wife in bed with another man. She defends herself, saying, "you're not the man I married anymore." And the husband says, "well, neither is that guy."

 

Church might be full of sinners and hypocrites and totally uninspiring. But so is the bank, the grocery store, and the gym. And yet I still go to those places. 

 

Again, not aiming this at anyone else, just speaking of what I have found in myself. The devil on my shoulder is VERY sneaky. He doesn't say "church sucks and you should be an atheist." He says things like, "you know...family time is important too. Wouldn't God be just as happy if you stayed home and made everyone a nice big breakfast?" He takes something that on its own is a virtue, family time, and uses it against me. Other people may have other sneaky paths that he uses. I don't know. Again, just speaking for myself. 

 

And edited to add: obviousy, if a Church or group is actively abusive spiritually or otherwise, of course you shouldn't go. 


Edited by ktgrok, 11 January 2018 - 08:04 PM.

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#28 ktgrok

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 08:05 PM

(also, I'm realizing more and more how much my theology and religious life is influenced mostly by The Screwtape Letters, lol.)


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#29 6packofun

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 08:07 PM

I haven't been to church regularly in about 2 years.  Our youngest has issues and really doesn't enjoy going.  I'm not going to force him and so I needed to be at home with him.  However, over the past 6 months or so I've realized that I'm sort of putting off getting back into things--and I WANT to go.  When I stopped, it was a huge relief because I get tired of constantly serving.  I don't have to serve, I love to, and I'm ok with saying no so it's not that.  BUT, in every church we've attended, a small minority do 99% of the work. After a while, it gets old and I'm fine with withdrawing for a bit.  For me, the issues with ds made it a total withdrawal, but I miss Bible study and teaching and discussing books, etc. with people who mostly share my values!   I sometimes feel like our family is appreciated for what we DO for the church but not for who we ARE.  It can be lonely and to me, the worst kind of loneliness is the one in the midst of a group of people with whom you SHOULD feel like family--even if only distant relatives.  LOL  

 

Another thing holding me back is that I can be critical of how things are done. Things tend to slowly irk me more and more over time and I need to get that under control.  My dh works at our church we really like it so I don't want to ruin it for myself.  But that's MY issue!  I also tend to stop reading the Bible and just read theology books.  Nothing wrong with some good, deep stuff, but if I'm honest, I'm replacing the Bible with those books because they are just more appealing to me!  I sometimes look at the Bible as an "assignment" and would rather read on my own terms.  I need balance with that.


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#30 rozes

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 08:21 PM

nm


Edited by ....., 14 January 2018 - 08:01 PM.

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#31 ktgrok

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 09:11 PM

I forgot to say how my time away from church impacted friendships and stuff. Um...well..most or all of my friends are not Christian. Some pagans, some atheists, some agnostics. One good friend that is Catholic but doesn't attend right now. And lives far away from me anyway. 

 

I DO wish I had some friendships with other believers. But going to church hasn't fixed that, probably because I am not very social there. I don't go for that I guess. Or rather, I go to services, but not all the other stuff. I don't volunteer right now. Etc. There is a group for moms, but they all seem to have their kids in the parish school, and I felt a bit awkward with them. i should try again though. 


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#32 Joker

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:17 PM

We haven't attended regularly for the past two years since ds came out as being transgender. It's been difficult to find a place where we feel we don't have to pretend. I will not pretend that who he is and how he is living is sinful. I don't believe it and don't want to be surrounded by people in church who do. We have found an Episcopal church we like (we were Catholic) but it's not nearby so it makes things difficult. We're not comfortable just going anywhere because we need a church who views the Eucharist as we do. We do have lots of discussions among ourselves, though, and keep lots of good reading material around. 

 

Ds did tell us recently that this has been a very good year for his faith. I have really been worried about where he would end up since he's heard so much of the sinner junk from people since coming out. Turns out he's in the best place with his relationship with God ever. I don't know if that would have happened without a break from all the other stuff. All the colleges ds is looking at have good Episcopal churches nearby where he would be accepted and welcomed so he's excited about having that option. 

 

We do plan to attend the Episcopal church we have found and like but it won't be that often and I think that's ok.


Edited by Joker, 11 January 2018 - 10:18 PM.

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#33 BlsdMama

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:24 PM

I am curious about the experiences of those who have stepped away from church but not away from God.  

 

What events caused you to stop being involved with a local church?

 

How long have you be out of church?

 

How has this changed/affected your life, your relationship with God, and your friendship with others?

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

 

I apologize if this might seem limiting to add, but I am not looking for a response from those who are faithfully attending a church and are eager to back up the Biblical reasons to stay plugged into a church setting.  I know those reasons/thoughts/feelings.  I have heard them my entire life.  My dad is a pastor.  

 

 

ETA:  I am mainly just curious about other's experiences.  We have been having our own struggles lately, yes, but we have come to no conclusions.

 

This was me for years and years.  For me, it was a matter of my husband and I not being on the same page and me not wanting to make him look like some sort of heathen to our kids and others.  I didn't think that would be godly nor would it inspire a love for God, kwim?  After being "saved" (choosing to believe and follow Christ as Lord, in late July 2000) I continued in the Catholic church for years.  For a few years, while on base, I attended PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) in addition to Catholic mass.  We continued to go to mass until about 2006/2007.  We began to attend a non-denominational church for a short time that we both loved but we moved further from it.  Then we moved to Oregon.  We did not attend church in OR at all and not for a couple years after moving back to here, so about 7 years in all?

It affected my life in that it important for me to be accountable to me to stay in the Word, to continue prayer, to continue learning.  I still made Christian friends because of my homeschooling groups and online.  

We have returned to church because my husband suggested it and he did know my feelings on it (wanting to belong to a local church.)  At the time I had no idea if it was temporary.  We've been attending our local church for about a year now.  

Pros/Cons

The con is that I have what feels like a security blanket - teaching going on that I can (now) take for granted as people do.  I think that I was more worried about not learning, not growing, without a church and that made me more resolute to not just slide through the week on Sunday's teaching, kwim?

THAT SAID, I am *so* grateful for our local church.  Ya know, we have been weathering one heckuva storm here in our house and we NEED solid teaching.  I like my kids understanding it is important to attend mass, that one cannot solely teach oneself, and accountability to others is a GOOD and important thing.  We are called to gather together in His name.  It is a JOY to sing praise in a large group.  While I do not do the women's studies currently, I do miss that. I did have that through PWOC and I found it very valuable.  While I do have Christian friends (through homeschooling) I would not say that I am "plugged" in.  I miss AWANAS.  We haven't done it for years and I did volunteer and take the kids. I found the challenge to memorize scripture SO valuable over my life.

More recently, I have come to realize in my efforts to love others (not believers) and to touch them, that I have watered down my beliefs.  I have become less "salty" and I think that when we aren't in a preaching/teaching church that it is easy to believe you are doing it for the sake of relationships and that it is for the better.  It is very convicting to be around those more mature than me.  Not so I can idolize them or feel guilty for not being in their spot, but just because there is that recognition of the need to stay salty and stay growing.  It has been said that everyone needs friends who are their spiritual peers, those are more mature than them, and those who are less.  It keeps us accountable, encouraged, teaching, and encouraging.  I find that is very, very true.  Lukewarm Christianity is not acceptable to Christ and it should not be acceptable to us.  And it is EVER SO EASY to slip from hot to slightly less hot to warm to lukewarm.  That is a dangerous thing and I think there is value to a faith community and accountability and encouragement.


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#34 Liz CA

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 11:42 PM

 

 

Again, not aiming this at anyone else, just speaking of what I have found in myself. The devil on my shoulder is VERY sneaky. He doesn't say "church sucks and you should be an atheist." He says things like, "you know...family time is important too. Wouldn't God be just as happy if you stayed home and made everyone a nice big breakfast?" He takes something that on its own is a virtue, family time, and uses it against me. Other people may have other sneaky paths that he uses. I don't know. Again, just speaking for myself. 

 

And edited to add: obviousy, if a Church or group is actively abusive spiritually or otherwise, of course you shouldn't go. 

 

 

This is very true. Like someone said upthread habits change slowly and it is perhaps not a very obvious thing when it happens. 

I am also more introvert than extrovert and this is likely why I prefer the smaller groups. I think it provides for more real fellowship beyond the "Good Morning, glad you are here."

This is a good thread - like a little kick in the rear (for me anyway).


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#35 CaliforniaDreaming

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 12:51 AM


We stayed out of church for a few years while dealing with a personal crisis. When we tried to look around again and try out churches, everything felt like the same formula. Get new believers, get them plugged in to a small group, get them serving, etc.. but I was tired of that formula. I was looking for something more. I felt like, well I can listen to some really good worship music on the Christian radio, and I can listen to some really good podcasts or read some really good books to get the teaching. Why do I need to go to church? I am an introvert so fellowship wasn't at the top of my list, but we had tried to get involved at the previous church and when we could have used fellowship the most it was not there anyways. So I was kind of disillusioned and I didn't really see the point of going to church at all.

I still felt close to God. I still read my bible and listened to worship music and I had Christian friends I could talk to, but I felt like something was missing. I realized I needed to worship God and I started to really question what worship really was and when I was doing it. When I would try to find a church to find that worship, I found it only had this tiny small place in the service. Most of the churches I went to reserved most of the service for preaching and teaching. Other than a couple of songs, there wasn't much worship. The minute I would finally start to feel God's presence, worship ended, and someone was talking about an offering, or making church announcements, or preaching or teaching and telling me how to live a good Christian life. It started driving me crazy. I just wanted to worship God, and it seemed like one should be able to do that in church for more than a few minutes on Sunday.

This path of seeking and begging God for answers led me to finding the Orthodox church. When I finally got up the nerve to attend Divine Liturgy it was like everything I had been searching for just opened up and I understood why I was supposed to go to church. Being in liturgy actually transforms me spiritually. And liturgy means "the work of the people" so I am needed there in the service too. It is not just a passive receiving of information, but an actual spiritual experience that requires my participation. Once I started to attend regularly it drew me like a magnet. The chants would linger in my head all week and I couldn't wait to go back the next Sunday. It heals me and fills me up. And I am still a catechumen who hasn't even received communion yet!

No one is asking me to serve in children's church or nursery because all children are in the liturgy as well. Church announcements were made at the very end if at all, after liturgy was completed. Offerings are made very discretely and don't interrupt the service. And the music- threaded through the entire service are the beautiful prayers and chanting. I hear so much of the actual bible verses being chanted every week. The Word of God is radiating throughout the whole service and hearing it moves me even more than reading it silently to myself. So now I finally feel like there is a reason to be in church every Sunday and I am doing my best to show up each week to worship.

I have met amazing Christians both within and outside of church. The holy spirit goes where it will go. It met me when I was quite on the outside of the church. About as far out as one could be actually. I make no judgments on where anyone is on their journey- just sharing my own experience.

Edited by CaliforniaDreaming, 12 January 2018 - 01:00 AM.

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#36 Minniewannabe

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 06:13 AM

I work on most Sundays. Those few I am off work, I am too tired to go. (I work the night shift.)

I stay connected on another homeschool forum with ladies who I tend to agree with from a religious perspective and I admire their insight. I send my DD to Liberty University so she can tell me what it is like to be around other Christians who express their faith regularly. And, I do my own Bible reading and try to understand, but, I fail at this mostly.

My IRL friends are mostly secular as that is the community we live in.

Thank goodness for the internet or I would feel like a Lone Ranger.
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#37 DawnM

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 06:26 AM

I have always, always, always been involved in church.  I grew up very involved and went to a Christian college, Christian graduate school, etc, etc......

 

I have always been a member in a church.  I still am, BUT, after 10 years of being very involved in our local church here, I haven't gone in 6 months.  I still go to the home Bible study every other week, and I have visited a local church a few times.....but I now, for the first time in my life, feel a little lost in church.

 

My faith hasn't wavered, but it seems to be changing.  I am seeing some things through different lenses, and I want to find a church, but I am not sure where I fit in.  And part of me just wants to sneak in the back, and leave without getting involved for a good, long while!  It just wears me out.


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#38 Bluegoat

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 07:21 AM

I guess I've had two periods where I was not really in a congregation.  I would attend occasionally but not regularly, or at the same place, and I wasn't involved.

 

On the first occasion there were a few reasons.  I was kind of burned out from involvement and also work more generally.  I was depressed.  There were some changes in the leadership that were causing problems.  And also, I was no longer living in that community for the most part.  So it made sense on the one hand to not attend there, but I also didn't go looking for a new community in a serious way.

 

This wasn't a good period for me for many reasons, but not being part of a church community certainly didn't help.  Not wanting to be was very much related to my unhappiness.  But being apart allowed me to not think about things I really ought to have thought about, and ultimately it probably cut me off from a real source of healing.

 

On the second occasion I found myself living in a community where I found the parish - here was only one Anglican parish - very difficult.  The people were nice, so it was nothing like that or corruption or anything, but I had serious issues with their theology and form of worship.  I tried getting involved with a ministry that kept me away from the problems for the most part, but then I found I was really not at all having my needs met, and I was in limbo for a while.  I seriously considered changing my religious denomination at that point, but I ended up driving much farther to a church and eventually we moved (not because of that though.)

 

THis also was not a great period for my spiritual health.  I did end up using online resources more, and I would say that was a mixed blessing.  Lots to read, but I didn't find it resulted in a very balanced spiritual state - it's very much like online politics I think, when it isn't attached to a person in front of you it's very easy to become abstracted and to adopt an attitude where spirituality becomes divorced from real people and places and is no longer instantiated.  It's possible to become very harsh and inflexible and not see a human face along with an idea you might agree with.  And of course for someone in a sacramental church it means you are kind of cut off from that.  All of which is a way of saying it seemed inclined to make religion a "spiritual" thing rather than something concrete and instantiated in the human community.

 

I suppose the other thing that bothered me is that while I think it is just fine to step back from service for a time - and actually it's probably something we all need to do cyclicly, I felt that it wasn't really right to accept the benefits of the Christian community without also doing my part.

 

One thing I'll mention - I've never tended to become very discouraged by personal human stuff making church communities messy.  I think there can certainly be cases of abuse and corruption, or toxic exploitative communities, and that needs to be dealt with decisively, and if that is impossible it is usually best to leave them.  But I kind of take it for granted that church communities will at times exemplify all the normal human frailties, including in their administration and collective action.  So that kind of thing has never really made me feel that I should get away from the community in any permanent way.

 

 

 

 

 


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#39 ktgrok

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 07:54 AM

  And part of me just wants to sneak in the back, and leave without getting involved for a good, long while!  It just wears me out.

 

There is nothing wrong with that! I think it puts too much pressure on us when we think church needs to not just be worshiping God, but a source of friendship, a place to volunteer, etc etc etc. Those things are all great, but not the point of church, and if we need to step back from them, that's okay. We should be able to do that without avoiding church altogether! (I realize that is easier said than done if you are an established leader, etc...your idea to just attend somewhere else on Sundays may be a good one from that perspective.)


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#40 DawnM

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:31 AM

There is nothing wrong with that! I think it puts too much pressure on us when we think church needs to not just be worshiping God, but a source of friendship, a place to volunteer, etc etc etc. Those things are all great, but not the point of church, and if we need to step back from them, that's okay. We should be able to do that without avoiding church altogether! (I realize that is easier said than done if you are an established leader, etc...your idea to just attend somewhere else on Sundays may be a good one from that perspective.)

 

DH and I usually serve in some capacity.  He has been doing the preschool teaching for years.  This current school year, I asked him to commit to every OTHER Sunday and that has been much better, although once my middle son graduates high school (this year) I think we will be looking for something different.

 

I won't bore you with everything that is bothering me, and quite frankly, I am not sure I can even articulate all that is bothering me, but the truth is, they cater to the "popular" kids in youth group, certain families kind of dictate what will happen because of power or money, and this election really brought out some things I don't resonate with anymore.

 

There is a church about 5 miles away that is a church we can slip in and slip out without getting too inovolved.  We have visited about 5 or 6 times.  I like some of the things he says, and my middle son really likes it.   It wouldn't be my first choice, but it will do for now.


Edited by DawnM, 12 January 2018 - 10:45 AM.

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#41 Attolia

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:01 AM

I have always, always, always been involved in church.  I grew up very involved and went to a Christian college, Christian graduate school, etc, etc......

 

I have always been a member in a church.  I still am, BUT, after 10 years of being very involved in our local church here, I haven't gone in 6 months.  I still go to the home Bible study every other week, and I have visited a local church a few times.....but I now, for the first time in my life, feel a little lost in church.

 

My faith hasn't wavered, but it seems to be changing.  I am seeing some things through different lenses, and I want to find a church, but I am not sure where I fit in.  And part of me just wants to sneak in the back, and leave without getting involved for a good, long while!  It just wears me out.

 

 

I could have written much of this myself.  We have always been super involved.  Especially the bolded part.


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#42 Attolia

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:01 AM

This path of seeking and begging God for answers led me to finding the Orthodox church. 

 

 

 

What is an Orthodox church?  Is this a specific denomination?  When I look it up, I see tons of different kinds of branches of orthodox.  What type are you speaking of?


Edited by Attolia, 12 January 2018 - 09:02 AM.


#43 Bluegoat

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:36 AM

What is an Orthodox church?  Is this a specific denomination?  When I look it up, I see tons of different kinds of branches of orthodox.  What type are you speaking of?

 

She means the Eastern Orthodox.  They have different national groups (Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc) but they are all one church.

 

There are also the Oriental Orthodox groups - they are separate though they have many things in common with the EO.

 

There are also a few other small groups that use the word but have no relation to the EO or OO - they are generally much more  recent.


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#44 Nemom

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:40 AM

 

Again, not aiming this at anyone else, just speaking of what I have found in myself. The devil on my shoulder is VERY sneaky. He doesn't say "church sucks and you should be an atheist." He says things like, "you know...family time is important too. Wouldn't God be just as happy if you stayed home and made everyone a nice big breakfast?" He takes something that on its own is a virtue, family time, and uses it against me. Other people may have other sneaky paths that he uses. I don't know. Again, just speaking for myself. 

 

And edited to add: obviousy, if a Church or group is actively abusive spiritually or otherwise, of course you shouldn't go. 

 

I'm just curious and there is no judgment in this question.

 

Why do assume that it is the devil on your shoulder making this statement?  Maybe it is God letting you know that is okay to spend time with your family on this particular morning and that is how He wants you to serve Him on that particular day.


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#45 DawnM

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:50 AM

I'm just curious and there is no judgment in this question.

 

Why do assume that it is the devil on your shoulder making this statement?  Maybe it is God letting you know that is okay to spend time with your family on this particular morning and that is how He wants you to serve Him on that particular day.

 

.  I have always been taught the scripture, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the House of the Lord" and it is ALWAYS important to honor God on the Sabbath with worship, and it is good for bretheren to dwell together in unity, and, and, and......

 

Sundays are for the Lord, for worship, for fellowship, for teaching, and for honoring the Lord.  

 

Therefore, doing something as mundane as breakfast, which you can do other days, is not a reason to skip church.

 

However, for me, the above is never the issue.  I won't skip church just to make breakfast or whatever, I will skip (recently anyway) because I am tired of some things in the evangelical American church.  


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#46 ktgrok

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:54 AM

I'm just curious and there is no judgment in this question.

 

Why do assume that it is the devil on your shoulder making this statement?  Maybe it is God letting you know that is okay to spend time with your family on this particular morning and that is how He wants you to serve Him on that particular day.

 

Experience, I guess? I end up much happier once I make the decision to actually go to church. I can FEEL it is the right decision, once I make it. When I stay home and listen to that little voice I invariably end up regretting it all week long. And yet it becomes easier and easier to listen to it, the more I do it. 


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#47 Arctic Mama

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:56 AM

I'm just curious and there is no judgment in this question.

Why do assume that it is the devil on your shoulder making this statement? Maybe it is God letting you know that is okay to spend time with your family on this particular morning and that is how He wants you to serve Him on that particular day.

Because God directly affirms the need and blessing of communal worship and the necessity of regular communion together with believers. An impulse contrary to that, which separates the believer from the flock, wouldn’t line up with what God has already disclosed about himself and his church and worship in biblical revelation. It would be one thing if it was an extra opportunity, like a bible study or class, but the main weekly meeting? That wouldn’t pass my sniff test either, though it would certainly appeal to my flesh.

Taking a break because someone is sick or circumstances don’t allow it is being providentially hindered and very different than opting out of meeting because it’s more relaxing, fun, or convenient to hang around in PJs with family.

That might not be the case for every believer, but I’m right there with her on this one. God doesn’t separate me from his people, he urges me toward them for love and the best refreshment of my soul. My family is not better served sticking together alone instead of with other believers, unless we are in the midst of a circumstance or crisis where we physically cannot join.

Edited by Arctic Mama, 12 January 2018 - 10:57 AM.

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#48 Nemom

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:58 AM

 

Do you do anything to try to meet or be with other believers?

I have in the past, but it is difficult to find others that are open to meeting and talking about God and things of God.  I would love to find some other Christian to meet with like our house church we attended, but I havn't found many in our area that are interested.

 

Is this (or was it) a temporary situation for you or do you imagine that you will someday return to a church?

Right now I am still working out what our plan for the future is.  I am reading "Pagan Christianity" at the moment, and it is very interesting.  I also have "Re-imagining the Church" that I am planning to read.  DH and I have talked a bit about it.  I think once the kids are out of the house we may do another "church shopping" expedition.  I don't want to do that to them at the stages they are now.  There is also a possibility that we will move closer to DH's work in the next few years which might open up other possibilities.  What I would really love is to find a group of believer that we can discuss things of God, the Bible, and other issues and really wrestle with the deep truths of God together, building each other up in the Lord.  We have had that a few times in my life, one was our college age group when I was in college, another was at Bible college when we would meet up after classes and on evenings and just chat.  I really miss those times and would love to find that closeness and openness again. 

 

I agree.  I know lots of people who attend church regularly, volunteer at church, pray, etc... but there is very little talk of God.  Talk between services is small talk about work, family or other things.  There is no in-depth discussion about the sermon or how God is working in their lives.  The same happens at church activities.  We gather, organize, give the prepared sermon or lesson, clean up and move on.  There is no deep discussions about the bible and how God is working in our lives.  I myself am guilty of all of the above.  

 

This is what I enjoy so much about my small group of friends meeting.  We question, we wrestle, admit it doesn't really matter in the end, call each other out if necessary but always love each other and God, and don't judge each other.  You are welcome to come to any of our bible studies if you are ever in the midwest.  


Edited by Nemom, 12 January 2018 - 10:59 AM.

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#49 Arctic Mama

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 11:00 AM

. I have always been taught the scripture, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the House of the Lord" and it is ALWAYS important to honor God on the Sabbath with worship, and it is good for bretheren to dwell together in unity, and, and, and......

Sundays are for the Lord, for worship, for fellowship, for teaching, and for honoring the Lord.

Therefore, doing something as mundane as breakfast, which you can do other days, is not a reason to skip church.

However, for me, the above is never the issue. I won't skip church just to make breakfast or whatever, I will skip (recently anyway) because I am tired of some things in the evangelical American church.


That was when we knew we had to leave our old church. We were literally dreading Sunday mornings and gritting our teeth the whole time. When we found a new congregation it was like a weight had been lifted off of us, and that actually restored the relationships we had at that previous church. Once we could just be brothers and sisters again, without the theological disagreements hanging in the air, we were able to connect and love them much better again. Leaving was the best thing we ever did for those relationships, and it gave us a new body of believers to grow close with and minister with too. God knows :)
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#50 Nemom

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 11:08 AM

.  I have always been taught the scripture, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the House of the Lord" and it is ALWAYS important to honor God on the Sabbath with worship, and it is good for bretheren to dwell together in unity, and, and, and......

 

Sundays are for the Lord, for worship, for fellowship, for teaching, and for honoring the Lord.  

 

Therefore, doing something as mundane as breakfast, which you can do other days, is not a reason to skip church.

 

However, for me, the above is never the issue.  I won't skip church just to make breakfast or whatever, I will skip (recently anyway) because I am tired of some things in the evangelical American church.  

I guess I just do not see how all of these things cannot be done at home sitting at my kitchen table or in my living room.  I can worship, have fellowship, teach and honor God within the confines of my home on Sunday morning.  

 

I'm sitting at a Doctor's office and don't have access to my bible or the exact verse but I know it goes something like this, "where two or more gather in my name, I am in the middle of them"

 

I totally respect where you are coming from but I disagree with you that these things can only happen within the walls of a church which is how I am interpreting your statement.


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