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I Hate Going To Church!

I Hate Going To Church

It’s true but let me explain.

When we are going to arrive late, I hate going to church. All eyes will be drawn to us. Watching as we try to find a seat and slink in as unnoticed as possible. They will wonder why I wore that to church. They will criticize my over-sized body. How I don’t have on cute shoes. And they may question why he is with her.

Who are they?

The monsters I’ve created in my head. The critical women I’ve conjured up in my imagination. The ones who make me so insecure that I don’t want to step foot into the building. There are days that getting into my seat and focusing are a feat in themselves.

Being new to a church amplifies this insecurity a thousand fold. The discomfort of it all is enough to keep me home. And I imagine, the same thing keeps a lot of folks outside the doors of our churches. It’s scary to go to a new church where no one knows you and yet, you know people are watching. They see you because they recognize that you don’t yet belong and that can unravel the steeliest of nerves.

We’ve been new. We’ve been new many times in the past 3 years as we sought our new church home. If you’ve never been a newbie in a church, I suggest you take the challenge to go somewhere one Sunday where you know no one. It will give you a perspective for where others are coming from when you invite them to your church for the first time.

Entering a building where most people know each other, can be hard enough. Throw in traditions that a newbie won’t know and you add to the anxiety being new can produce.

Do we clap our hands to this song like we did at our other church? Do we have to greet others after worship? Will we have to go to the front of the church for communion? Or will we stay seated and watch? Are there rules about who takes communion at this church? Where do our kids go? Will they have fun? Are they safe? Will they know how to find us if they need to come get us? Is it okay to just drop into Sunday school classes?

The next time you see someone new, think about what you can do to make them feel more at home. When you invite someone to church, meet them at the door or pick them up at home. Take some of the anxiety out of being the newcomer by being friendly and asking questions.

And if you suffer from anxiety like I occasionally do, pray about bringing your focus back on the Lord. That’s where it should be when we enter the church to praise and worship. It’s not important what others think of you. It’s important that you are there.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

What situations at church make you feel insecure or cause anxiety? What have you found helps ease your anxiety? Do you greet new folks at church? Please share in the comments below. 

 

 

14 Comments

  1. Hi Mel – I can sure relate!! We’ve been new in a church several times. Sometimes we go and no one ever says a word to us. (Of course, there have been times in our lives that we just wanted to be anonymous – maybe because we had been wounded in church before.)

    It’s really great when people do greet you. But I think it’s more than just someone standing outside the church to shake your hand. It’s people coming up to you afterwards. It’s people following you down the aisle just to say hi on your first day.

    Since I know how it feels to be a newbie on the outside of the clique, I try really hard to speak to people that might be new and engage them in conversation. Sometimes that can make all the difference to someone!!

    Lisa Are Wulf
    http://blog.onewomansanctuary.com
    Lisa Are wulf recently posted..It’s My Right!

  2. Great post Mel, and good reminders for those who are long time church members in how to help new comers!
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  3. I won’t go if we’re going to be late and i know that is probably the wrong attitude. I hate trying to find a seat and having everyone stare. I like the churches that have a hospitality team and they make a point of speaking to you before and after the service and then call or send a welcome letter or card later. It’s the small things that really make the difference.

  4. I am not a churchgoer, and I stumbled across this through a friend on Facebook, but I would like to add that regardless of where you are new, how others greet you is important. A smile, in church or anywhere else, goes such a long way – and it transcends religions. I enjoyed the post!

  5. Great post, Mel! You offer a perspective I wouldn’t have thought about. We don’t go to church, we hate it. Not for the reasons you have mentioned but almost opposite reasons. It is so disheartening.

    • …change that, we don’t hate church, we wish we had one. I guess we are more like you and hate the “going” part.

      • Lost and Found Lady

        Hello Dawn,
        there are several churches that have internet streaming.. that is.. you can watch them ‘live’ on your computer. I love seeing The Potter’s house in Dallas (this is Bishop T.D. Jakes home church). I’m curious if this option helps. One of the reasons why we attend is to get communication from God. I have been deeply blessed by the teaching ministry of Bishop Jakes. It would not surprise me if Joel Osteen’s church or Rick Warren or Max Lucado’s church has internet streaming too.

  6. Embarrassing was the time I went to a church that has ushers who try to fill certain seats because they video the services. I try to avoid being nabbed by them but one service they caught me and led me towards the front.

    I hate to sit in the very front row. Then you can’t see the people because it is rude to turn around. I also dislike the way the back of my hair can act sometimes.

    Anyway I had to let go of my self and my pride. When I looked besides me I was sitting by powerful church mothers in the faith. I knew God was honoring me to sit among them.

    I was new in the church and the ushers had just grabbed me because I was a warm body, alone and dressed like I came prepared to be with other saints. I am a single mom. I almost always attend church alone and I have often been late.

    The only thing I really hate it having to move past people who are lost in worship when I arrive.
    ToscaSac recently posted..Time Out For A Mom

  7. Lost and Found Lady

    You asked “What situations cause you to feel anxiety?” Ok, I have one. I carefully checked everyone else’s responses to make sure I’m not duplicating. My personal pet peeve is to be warmly received during the 5-10 minute meet-N-greet time and yet fail to get past first base in making any kind of long term connection. I”m extroverted. I’m talkative. As far as I know, my breath is minty. None of that matters. There are NO open spots on people’s social cards. They are comfortable with whom they know and that.. as they say.. is that.

    We stopped attending the church that I can reliably get to in my neighborhood for just this reason. I have two impressionable teens and they were getting hurt trying to fit in. The children of these status quo membership folks have learned to respond the same way.

    Now, i do have some good news in all of this. There is invariably at least one person who is the exception to the rule. I have picked up two friends from two different congregations whom I LOVE. They are wonderful! We are communicating and hanging out. These two friends have openly stated ‘I don’t know why the other members didn’t clue in.’ /shrug. As I mentioned to Dawn, internet live streaming is how we’re ‘attending’.

    • That is a huge pet peeve of mine too. But it seems more around here that folks have TOO much on their plate and not enough time for fellowship. I’m too social to stay home every single day and I do try to have someone over for dinner once if not more, per week. I need that human interaction. It’s great that everyone’s kids are in sports but don’t let that take over your entire life.

      • Lost and Found Lady

        Thanks for replying Mel — it helps to hear that I’m not alone with my head-scratching, eyebrow-raised self. I bet you are right. Much of it is easily explained by over committment. You might explain the rest with a penchant for being comfortably numb.

        However the process evolved, the result is tragic. If you saw my upbringing, you’d vote me most likely to attend church weekly until death. Just very quickly, the real victim here is the pew warmer. God has found a way to minister to me. I’m ok. That pew-warmer has been telling God, the Holy Spirit, ‘NO WAY! I’m not going to …[insert full participation] ” My experience in telling God ‘No Way’ was dramatic. I don’t recommend it. Also, life has gotten far more complicated. It’s not an individual event any more. It’s a team sport now. Wise people are allying.

  8. It is really tough to be a newbie in a church, how much more if you have anxiety problems? In my opinion, everyone should take part to make sure that the anxiety will be lessened, if not eliminated.

  9. Our family often feel the same anxiety about church. We moved to our town about four years ago and have attended several different churches in order to try to settle in. Each one has made us uncomfortable for different reasons. The one we like the best happens to be 45 minutes away and we can’t ever seem to arrive on time. Like many of you, we don’t hate church, but we dread going sometimes… If that makes any sense at all.
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  10. Susi aka Sinead

    I can definitely relate! When I lived in Göteborg I never found a church I really felt “at home” in. I have quite bad experiences from there and also from another church in another town I lived in for a while. I think the worst thing that can happen when you go to a church is that noone notices you. I don’t worry much about how they do things or how they’ll think about my looks…. but I’m afraid noone will even see me. And sadly, it’s happened a few times. When I first came to the church I’m in now, a couple of people came to greet me and said welcome, and the Sunday after everyone knew who I was….and lots of people came to talk with me. I knew from the start that this is my home. I find it hard to see God in a church where they don’t even notice when someone is there for the first time. I try to say hello to new people, but it’s difficult to know who is new these days when I don’t go to church so often.

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