lillou_2's picture

lillou_2

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Why do people feel uncomfortable in church?

When I ask my friends to come to church with me I always get the same answer, "Church makes me uncomfortable."  Some of them are athetiest with no interest in religion, some our Christians that don't know how to become a part of the church but most our agnostic and in need of spritual guidance that for some reason they do not find at church.

 

I was born into a Christian home and attended church (almost) all my life.  I honestly enjoy going to church.  I feel so at home.  How can I share that feeling with others?

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crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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welcome lillou to the cafe. I am sure there will be many responses to your question.

pleroma's picture

pleroma

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People feel uncomfortable in church because often new members of the congregation are not truly welcome.  Churches like many other organizations develop a certain "group culture" over the years of their existance and are usually resistant to change.  These are networks of friendships built over the years. The mission of the church also gets lost as it revolves around a series of planned social activities.  In this context the church is more like a club or serivce organization in my opinion.

If as the "new person" you fit in thats fine, but if you don't you are going to feel uncomfortable.  Younger people often do because their attitudes are at odds with the congregation, based upon their life experiences. 

Congregations need to be more open and those that are too comfortable with their own status quo run the risk of being irrelevant to the society as a whole.

Motheroffive's picture

Motheroffive

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Well, when I have felt uncomfortable in church myself, I can link it to two reasons. One is that many churches have a message of condemnation rather than love. The second is that the community doesn't make room for newcomers and those newcomers don't know the unspoken rules for that community.

 

The latter has been true for me in other scenarios as well...I think fondly of someone who took the time to mentor me in exploration in other parts of my life...he helped show me the ropes and deconstruct the language that was used in that sub-culture.

Alex's picture

Alex

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 Churches are human institutions. 

 

I too face the same situation that you do lillou. 

 

One thing I have come to realise is that whorship is often a bad way to introduce people to religion. Church services are full of symbolism and references to stories and theologies that are not fully explain in church services, and thus are meaningless to new commers.

 

Also many people have had really bad experiences with churches and religious people.

 

It is particularly difficult for people who have certain differences.

 

It is also difficult for those who have friends or family who have been excluded and condemmed by the church.  They feel they might be betraying their family and friends by belongimg to a church.  I myself stayed away from the church I belonged to today, because it was not wheelchair accessible. I was uncomfortable attending and supporting an organisation that excluded the disabled.  It was wrong to do so (and that was what what I had been taught in Sunday School) So I was uncomfortable when I went and largely avoided church for twenty years until the church moved to a partially wheelchair accessible building. 

Modern Girl's picture

Modern Girl

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Church can be uncomfortable if you are being preached something that you disagree with. Some people don't want to sit still while they have a minister tell them something that is against their values, and they have to sit there and take it. To me, that'd be more uncomfortable than sitting on thumbtacks.

 

Also, Protestant Churches are uncomfortable to me because of all the "Jesus Love" When people get really preaching about Jesus in a certain way I am really uncomfortable. Not the "He's was a great leader, teacher and humantarian" way, that's fine. But the "Take Jesus into your heart. Love Jesus! May Jesus love you and watch over you" stuff. It's like being at school and having to watch 2 love birds make out. PDA is awkward for onlookers, whether it's PDA between 2 people, or a person and a deity.

 

 

Finally, church can be uncomfortable when people expect you to follow certain traditions, but you don't know what the heck you're doing. Especially in Catholic churches, with the kneelings, and the communion, and all the rituals. If you don't know what's expected of you, and you feel self-conscious like everyone else is watching, that could make you feel uncomfortable.

Tiger Lily's picture

Tiger Lily

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I started 5 years ago as an adult.  Besides the practical stuff (not knowing what to do when, not recognizing many Bible stories and thinking that "passing the peace" was just downright creepy etc.) I think the biggest factor for me was not knowing what I believed and thinking everyone else did.  Also thinking that everyone else would want me to believe what they did.  Lots of stereotypes about churches and church people in my mind (sad considering I had chosen a very liberal United Church lol).  Realizing that church folk were regular folk was a surprise.  Realizing that not knowing was OK and that other people had questions too was a surprise.  Realizing that no one was out to convert me somehow was a surprise.  Realizing that I didn't have to believe in the Bible literally (a deal breaker for me) was a surprise.  It seems funny to me now.  But that's how I arrived and it took time to realize those things.

 

The church was very welcoming.  The minister was amazing about explaining things and being open to questions.

 

TL

 

 

seeler's picture

seeler

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I don't think it is unusual for people to feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations where they don't know what to expect or what is expected of them.  I also think that many people have preconceived ideas about what goes on in a church, or what church people believe.  Also, some people may remember uncomfortable experiences in a church at some time in the past.  If you friends say that they would feel uncomfortable before they have ever visited your church, that may be the reason - they don't know what to expect, they have preconceived ideas, or they remember bad experiences.   I hope that visiting the WonderCafe might change some of those ideas about the UCC.

 

If they have visited your church with you for a few times and still feel uncomfortable you might want to look at what is happening in your church that would make them feel that way.

 

And for those who attend regularly:  how are visitors and newcomers treated in your church?  Does someone welcome them at the door?  Are they given a program that is easy to read?  Does an usher ask them where they would like to sit and show them to a pew (or chair)?  Do the people sitting nearby smile or offer a welcome before the service?  If they seem to have trouble finding their place in the order or service or the hymnbook does somebody nearby help them?  Does the minister welcome newcomers from the pulpit?   How is the offering handled - are visitors expected to contribute - or given the opportunity?

 

After the service does anybody invite them to sign the visitors book?  Find out their names and where they are from?  Are they invited to the fellowship time, and does somebody accompany them to the parlor or gym (or wherever it takes place), help them get serviced and introduce them to a few others?  Are they invited back?

 

If they have physical needs, do they get the assistance they need?  Is your church user friendly to wheelchairs, hard of hearing, vision impaired?  If they have children with them, does somebody let them know where the nursery and Sunday School are, and also let them know that their children are welcome to stay with them?

 

Are the washrooms well marked?  Accessible?  Clean?

 

I have always felt comfortable in the church I'm attending, from day one.  But I have visited other church, other denominations, and sadly to say other UCC where I wasn't even spoken to. 

 

Maybe instead of inviting your friends to the regular Sunday morning worship, you might introduce them to a small group study or discussion group, a Sunday evening of music, or a special speaker or workshop taking place in the church, or a potluck lunch.  Or take them in one day during the week, show them around, introduce them to the minister, the secretary and anybody who might be around.

 

 

 

 

 

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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When I started going to our local United Church two years ago, my atheist, agnostic, and New Age friends exclaimed incredulously: "What, you are going to church!? But you don't believe in any of that stuff!"

 

They are right; I don't literally believe in any of the stuff I hear in church. But I take it seriously and metaphorically, and from my mystical experience it is all profoundly albeit metaphorically  true.

 

What is a turnoff to many people is that these profound metaphors are not always presented as metaphors or taken metaphorically in church. The language of the Bible, of our liturgy and hymns, is not overtly metaphorical. On the contrary, it is designed to be taken literally. And, when taken literally, it sounds absurd or irrational to most modern people.

 

This, I think, is the biggest turnoff. Another might be preaching at rather than preaching to people, or being an exclusice Christian social club.

 

Luckily, in the United Church and other liberal Proestant denominations, the Bible, liturgy, and hymns are presented to be metaphorical, and the deeper, profound and divine truths beneath these metaphors are actively and eagerly explored. Unfortunately, those progressive denominations and congregations have, so far, not done a good "selling job," and have permitted the far more vocal fundamentalists and literalists to define Christianity.

 

But the Emerging Spirit Campaign, wondercafe, and the various outreach programs undertaken by progressive congregations are beginning to change that.

 

Another less obvious and frequently overlooked reason for low church attendance might be the very rationality that is espoused by many modern Christians. This rationality compells them to regard the language of the Bible, of liturgy and the hymns as metaphorical, and literal interpretations as irrational, but it also prompts them to regard mystical experience as irrational.

 

Mystical experience, however, is at the very root of our faith. If we cut ourselves off from our mystical roots, then our religion will atrophy and die, and we will be left with just a secular, moral ideology.

 

I would like to emphasize, though, that it is the mystical experience in itself that is of tremendous value, not the literal truthfulness of the interpretation. Taking the interpretations of mystical experience literally got us into the current dilemma in the first place. But if we were to encourage mystical experience, and take the interpretations and explanations of it as metaphorically as everything else, then there there might indeed be a revival of church and an increase in church attendance.

 

By "mystical experience" I mean what we experience when we turn inward in quiet contemplation, prayer or meditation, away from the distractions of our everyday lives and the incessant chatter of our thoughts, and away from our world of concepts. What we experience then is, in my opinion, an experience of God, or the Divine, which is more powerfully compelling than any literalist doctrine can possibly be.

Mate's picture

Mate

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Arminius

 

Absolutely.  Well put.

 

Shalom

Mate

mscibing's picture

mscibing

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One of the things that makes me uncomfortable in church is the feeling that I am there under false pretenses. Merely by attending I am giving the impression that I am a Christian, when in fact I am not. However the relative anonymity of most of the church services I have attended has been helpful in that regard.

I have accepted invitations to church from my in-laws, but it was made clear to me that I was under no obligation to participate beyond standing up at the correct points, and that accepting the invitation did not create the expectation that I would do so in the future. This went a long way to making me more comfortable. Your friends may be concerned over ultimately disappointing you should they accept your invitations.

YouthWorker's picture

YouthWorker

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I have felt very uncomfortable at my friend's old church -- and I've checked out his new church on the internet, I know I'll be uncomfortable there, too.  Thus, I only go to his church when he really wants me there (like when he had his membership ceremony), but otherwise try to stay away from his theology.  Both his old church and his new church are those "non-denominational" types -- the big box churches.

 

There were two key things that really bothered me...

 

1) The exclusion of any group of people.  Now, I've never been excluded from anything since I am a straight fully-able Christian who was baptised and confirmed.  But to hear that the church doesn't welcome GLBTTQ persons (or they spout that "love the sinner, hate the sin" crap), makes me uncomfortable.  To hear that the church will not perform same-sex marriages as it is against their beliefs, bothers me.  For the minister to announce during communion that communion "is only for those who have personally accepted Jesus into their hearts -- and if that's not you, I ask you to pass," infuriates me.  (On the fully-able issue -- my friend's churches are more accessible than my own United Church, but we're undertaking a major project to take us from partially accessible to fully accessible -- we're putting in an elevator and a parking lot next year.)  To hear other religions and faiths described as "misguided" and on a path to hell, upsets me.

 

2) The guilt-ridden and blood-filled theology makes me very uncomfortable.  To hear, recite, or sing that we are all guilty sinners who should have been sent to hell but are saved because Jesus, the only perfect one, died for you and your sinful ways -- and that if you accept Jesus in your heart you are washed clean by the blood as the blood falls from the wounds and washes over you -- really makes me uncomfortable.  I remember one song, the chorus was "Wash me clean in your blood" sung over and over.  I find that imagery, and the accompanying guilt factor, to be unnecessarily gory and dark.

YouthWorker's picture

YouthWorker

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^Oh, and there were no ushers, greeters, bulletins, signs, or directions.  The building is massive and it took a few minutes to find which door to go in and where the sanctuary was.  No one said "Hi" -- other than my friend's family.  There were all these customs and traditions I knew nothing about -- and didn't have a bulletin to guide me (or bury my nose in).

oui's picture

oui

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lillou_2 wrote:

When I ask my friends to come to church with me I always get the same answer, "Church makes me uncomfortable."  Some of them are athetiest with no interest in religion, some our Christians that don't know how to become a part of the church but most our agnostic and in need of spritual guidance that for some reason they do not find at church.

 

I was born into a Christian home and attended church (almost) all my life.  I honestly enjoy going to church.  I feel so at home.  How can I share that feeling with others?

 

It sort of looks like you answered your own question in the first paragraph.  Perhaps they are uncomfortable because they are atheist,  or non-practicing Christians, or agnostic.  

 

This seems fairly clear that they are not interested, so why do you feel that it is so  necessary to "fix" them?  Can you take their answer as simply being honest?  

 

Your needs are perhaps different than their needs.

 

This approach is sort of like getting a telephone solicitor trying to convince me to buy something I don't need, or switch telephone plans, etc.  I'm simply not interested, and that is the end of the matter.

spiritbear's picture

spiritbear

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lill - Much has been made in the responses above about the "message" that the Church presents in determining whether or not it is welcoming. But think of a greeting card - if you don't find just exactly the right message, does that mean that you will never send a birthday, Christmas, sympathy, get well or any other card? Usually you will be comfortable with something that is close. So will anyone ever find a message in any church that exactly conforms to what they believe? Probably not. But then, who is presenting that message?  The minister? The denomination? The congregation? Individuals within the congregation? I submit that each of these will have a different approach to their faith, and the message will be much more mixed than your friends expect (as has been pointed out above). Another tactic: ask your friends what they think "church" is. They are probably wildly misinformed, so you might advise your friends that they might be surprised by the reality.

 

However, there is an important second point here. The "message" has more to do with points of belief or statements of faith or the contents of a minister's sermon.  How a worship service is conducted also sends a message. For me, music is another mode of communication, which speaks to me no less than a message from the pulpit.  So if the music consists of two-hundred-year-old songs sung in a dirge-like fashion with the organ as the focus, the message to me is simple: I'm not welcome there.  That congregation/worship team is so disinterested in welcoming me that they couldn't be bothered to try something a little more recent, or imaginative. So when churches like that insist that they are a "friendly" church, I respond - "you need to try a different pair of glasses".  Let's face it, the worship culture of so many churches is totally alien to the musical sensibilities of most people under 60 yet those churches are resolutely against making any changes to their style of worship. Once again, that says to me, "you're not welcome here".  And in this regard, most ministers, music directors and congregations don't even have a clue about where to start.

Pilgrims Progress's picture

Pilgrims Progress

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Arminius wrote:

What is a turnoff to many people is that these profound metaphors are not always presented as metaphors or taken metaphorically in church. The language of the Bible, of our liturgy and hymns, is not overtly metaphorical. On the contrary, it is designed to be taken literally. And, when taken literally, it sounds absurd or irrational to most modern people.

I agree with this. I have many intelligent, thoughtful, caring friends who also happen to be agnostic. As Arminius says, they choose to reject church worship because the literal  interpretation of the scriptures sounds both absurd and irrational.

And I'd be the first to agree that metaphors are such slippery creatures. Often you think you've caught them, only for them to slip away. 

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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Pilgrims Progress wrote:

Arminius wrote:

What is a turnoff to many people is that these profound metaphors are not always presented as metaphors or taken metaphorically in church. The language of the Bible, of our liturgy and hymns, is not overtly metaphorical. On the contrary, it is designed to be taken literally. And, when taken literally, it sounds absurd or irrational to most modern people.

I agree with this. I have many intelligent, thoughtful, caring friends who also happen to be agnostic. As Arminius says, they choose to reject church worship because the literal  interpretation of the scriptures sounds both absurd and irrational.

And I'd be the first to agree that metaphors are such slippery creatures. Often you think you've caught them, only for them to slip away. 

 

Yes, P.P., to assume that metaphors have an all-applicable fixed meaning is almost as dangerous as taking them literally.

 

Everyone has to explore the meaning of divine (or any other) metaphors for themselves and discern their own truths. Discerning the meaning of metaphors actually is a co-creation between the original creator and the later contemplator. Although the original creator may have had a particular meaning in mind, the contemplator also invests it with meaning, which may or may not be the same as that of the original creator.

 

I think the interpretation of metaphors is as much a creative process as the original creation.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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I feel uncomfortable in church because (and the last time I was at a service was about 18 years ago) I feel it is all about how evil I am and how "good" people should not be like me. I hate almost everything said, and dissagree with it. I have found it degrading and offensive and against nature, and that if the people around me knew what I think, they would stone me! I hate the muted organ music, the hallowed quiet, the holy writ, the robes, the golden crosses and especially the psalms.

 

I was at a funeral actually, I just remembered, two years ago, I knew it would be religious, but thought it would all be about my deceaced uncle and not include a sermon, but oh how wrong I was! The preacher went on about how important it is to be saved and go to heaven and how serious this is, totally off topic in my book! And disrespectful considering some of the guests were not religious, including 3 of the deceaced's 4 children.

 

The only time you'll see me at a church now, is if it has good architecture and is empty except for tourists.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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Both sides, the visitor and the church, tend to be suspicious of each other.

 

The visitor is suspicious of the church. Will they try to convert me? Are they really just after my money? Will they want me to do anything strange? Will they single me out in any way kind?

 

The church is suspicious of the visitor. Just who is this person? What are they doing here today? How will they effect our worship? Are they one of us? Will they bring any kind of difficulty to us?

 

The visitor needs to be welcomed. The church needs to be assured. Both need to be understood and loved. If we dare.

RevMatt's picture

RevMatt

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Elanorgold - I HATE it when that happens at a funeral.  The last time that happened to me was at my Grandfather's funeral.  I know he wouldn't have liked it either, but his sister was in charge.  I was furious - furious for the abuse that the preacher heaped on us, furious for the way he abused the faith, and most furious because now I will always remember my Grandfather's funeral as a hugely negative event.

 

Preachers who use funerals to win converts are the lowest form of church scum.

Modern Girl's picture

Modern Girl

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Totally agreed Elanorgold and RevMatt. My friend's mother's pentecostal's funeral was much the same. However, I hated my grandmother's Catholic funeral even more. Instead of proselytizing, the Priest just led a *normal* service with writings that didn't seemed connected to her at all, or a lose, or a remembrance in general or anything. The only thing that made it was funeral was the first 5 minutes of the 60 minutes service in which the Priest briefly told a "story" about her. But get this - the story was made up! He has a token "madlibs" style story that he just puts people's names into.

 

It was so incredibly offensive to me, that was the final step that switched of my feelings towards Catholicism.

cjms's picture

cjms

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I don't think that anyone has touched on the fact that one of the church's greatest assets is also one of its weaknesses.  And that's that it is one of the last few intergenerational communities around.  Intergenerational connection is wonderful once you know people but can be very intimidating and uncomfortable if you are new.  I know that for me it is often difficult to meet new people but even harder when we are at different stages in life...cms

kaythecurler's picture

kaythecurler

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I feel/felt uncomfortable in church for several reasons.  Unfamiliarity with 'how things are done'.  Discomfort with the amount of singing of unfamiliar music (I can't carry a tune in a bucket).  Recognising neighbours sitting around me who have never demonstrated caring or acceptance or kindness to my family (think racial slurs etc). 

I listened to the readings, the words of the hymns and the sermon and realised that I hadn't seen the people around me doing much of that.  Friends who never went to church were at least, if not more, caring.  When I stopped showing up there was no response from the church. 

 

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Just a couple of posts

 

At a funeral people were asked to raise their hand if they wanted to be saved - very offensive to me and the Catholic Woman I was sitting beside.

 

Christmas Eve - I have seen communion served in a church where there was only one Christmas Eve Service - filled with strangers - most were unused to the ritual of the church - they looked very uncomfortable. I think this leads me to start another thread.

spiritbear's picture

spiritbear

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Eleanorgold - I'm curious.  Why do you assume that all churches are as you have described? Just because I don't happen to like novels written by Ayn Rand, does that mean that all novels and novelists will disappoint me?  Have you actually attended a UCC worship services within the last 18 years to justify what you say here (or perhaps two services of two churches just to give you an idea of how different to churches from the same denomination can be)?

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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RevMatt: Go RevMatt! Thanks For your comments. Glad to know you concur on that point. Final sentence gave me a great chuckle!

 

ModernGirl: That really sucks! What a worthless priest. I would be so mad too. One could do a better service yourself!

 

Spiritbear: Rightly asked. I didn't know a thing about the United church til about 2 years ago, and was very pleasantly surprised. I haven't been to a service though. I've only been to two Pentacostal services and a funeral, and one secular funeral that was hijacked by pentacostals, and maybe two or three Anglican christmas services, in different churches, and another funeral, I don't know what denomination. Oh, and one Ukranian Catholic wedding, which was fun. Liked the crowns and walking around the alter bit and the overall mood was jolly and less serious. So far as I know though, they all use the same bible and believe Jesus is the savior, and that is enough to turn me off. I would be interested to go to a Unitarian service though.

mgagnonlv's picture

mgagnonlv

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Many interesting points have been mentioned so far. But I would add others aspects which are minor – i.e. have nothing to do with theology for example – but still disconcerting. These points apply to the Anglican Church, the Roman-Catholic Church, and I'm sure to some extent to other Churches including the Anglican Church.

 

– Vocabulary.
Common words used to present basic issues are a bit hermetic to people who haven't been raised in a "church culture". Things like "being saved", "born again", etc.

– Too many words to talk about God.
As much as I like the fact God sent his only son to save us – and me –, I often like the simplicity of other faiths in that regards. Muslims, for instance have Allah, period.

– Singing.
I know it's part of the tradition and we have lots of lovely hymns. But younger people are raised on youtube, on downloading or buying music, etc. rather than performing it. It's probably not a coincidence that churches with a band attract a larger percentage of teenagers.

– Sermons.
Content wise, there are very good ones. I think good sermons have either spiritual content or theological content (or both), without being judgemental. But for many people, you would need to add a blackboard, slides (with key points or photos to illustrate the subject).

somegirl's picture

somegirl

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There are some churches that I have been to that I felt that if I wasn't 'church people' then I shouldn't be there.  'Church people' seem to be whatever race is predominant in the congregation, dressed up, either married or single (nothing in between) and straight.  I went to an Anglican church where I was not spoken to by anyone who didn't have to speak to me for the two years that I attended.  I did make an effort but my efforts were completely shut down.

 

I have also been to churches where I was grabbed at the door and out it by people wanting to get to know me and invite me to coffee time.  I really like it when a church offers communion to anyone who feels that they can.

 

For a long time I felt sinful.  I refused to take communion because I never felt pure and without guilt so I did not feel that it was acceptable for me to take it.  If I went into a church I would sit and cry most of the time.  At that time it had nothing to do with the church as to why I didn't want to be there but everything to do with how I was feeling at the time.

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southpaw

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I no longer attend church.  I sat in the pews and, before I got disabled, I preached from pulpits.  I not longer attend not because I feel uncomfortable; but because I feel annoyed and/or bored.  I've been exposed to United Church, Roman Catholic, Anglican (high and low), fellowship Baptist, Convention Baptist, Regular Baptist, Closed Brethren, Mennonite Brethren, Pentecostal, Charismatic, etc.  As part of my research in Reformation Studies, I concluded that the church is now, and has been since the second century AD (or CE if you're so inclined), predominately a secular movement.  Yes, even the Reformations (European, English and Catholic) were largely due to secular influences.  As a newcomer, I was ignored, and I was hugged.  I was welcomed, and I was grilled on whether I was saved.  My son and daughter in law attend church regularly, and are heavily involved.  I encourage them to continue to do so.  I enjoy more fellowship at Tim Hortons than your average chuirch -- and the coffee is much better.   One pastor in a conservative church cried through his sermon how difficult he had it as a pastor (someone dared disagree with him at a Board meeting.  He waved his hankie around as he spoke.  Gross!)  Rather than drop ten bucks into the offering plate, I'd rather play the lottery or go to a casino.  At least I know my money is going for more than to finance the ego trips of a select few.  Hatred is not the biggest enemy of the church; it's indifference. 

RichardBott's picture

RichardBott

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The coffee is better at St. Timothy-of-Horton's, southpaw? *oooo, ick!*

 

Christ's peace - r

retiredrev's picture

retiredrev

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RichardBott wrote:

The coffee is better at St. Timothy-of-Horton's, southpaw? *oooo, ick!*

 

Christ's peace - r

I agree.  Southy, you could do better, eh?  At least stick with Starbucks!  They're cool!!  They're like the "High Anglican" of coffee shops. 

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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retiredrev wrote:

I agree.  Southy, you could do better, eh?  At least stick with Starbucks!  They're cool!!  They're like the "High Anglican" of coffee shops. 

 

Yes, yes, Starbucks is wonderful. If you don't mind paying $5 for an overly strong coffee cup.

Mate's picture

Mate

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I made the coffee this past Sunday and folks said it was good.  After chruch some of us went to the pub for lunch including communion beer.

 

Shalom

Mate

jlin's picture

jlin

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refriedrev,

 

The first item to changing your new prospective church, therefore is to convince them to follow the PC UC line and adopt Fair Trade coffee. All must agree or hang their heads down . . . Tom Dooley. - revenge?  We never stoop to that.

retiredrev's picture

retiredrev

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This is totally unrelated, but what the heck.  When I was in theological college, a group of us went out for coffee to a 'nicer' place than McDonald's.  One fellow ordered a blend called, 'Canadian Coffee.'  It was so strong, he was wired and awake for the next three days!  Maybe we should serve that blend a half hour prior to church, eh?  (My former elementary school teacher (one room public school) told me I was impossible.  She was right!)

retiredrev's picture

retiredrev

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Aquatarius wrote:

retiredrev wrote:

I agree.  Southy, you could do better, eh?  At least stick with Starbucks!  They're cool!!  They're like the "High Anglican" of coffee shops. 

 

Yes, yes, Starbucks is wonderful. If you don't mind paying $5 for an overly strong coffee cup.

High Anglicans can usually afford it. 

lillou_2's picture

lillou_2

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I know I took a long time to reply but I hope you still respond to this post!  You said that ""passing the peace" was just downright creepy ", would you be just as uncomfortable with people just going around and greeting each other?

AbrahamMartin's picture

AbrahamMartin (not verified)

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I attended a church once that insisted on 'hugging'.  I pointed out to the pastor that one of his older male members was 'getting his jollies' while hugging the women.  Some didn't return and were too embarrassed to bring it up.  Even simple gestures can be misused unfortuately.  The practice went by the wayside. 

RussP's picture

RussP

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retiredrev

 

If not for Starbucks, where would we hold our Coffee and Conversation Part Deux?

 

BTW, ordinary coffee is not $5, only the lattes, yummm.

 

IT

 

 

Russ

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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lillou_2 wrote:

I know I took a long time to reply but I hope you still respond to this post!  You said that ""passing the peace" was just downright creepy ", would you be just as uncomfortable with people just going around and greeting each other?

 

Hi lillou, who were you asking? I will respond since I do find "passing the peace" a tad icky. It just feels fake to me. Everyone turning to their neighbor and saying the exact same phrase and getting the exact same automatic answer. I'm much more comfortable with a less regulated greeting time in which people can greet using their own words.

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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 Why would you feel uncomfortable in church?

 

1. You don't know anyone there.

2. You have to stop watching Sunday morning television fishing shows and cartoons by 9:30 am so you can make the service on time.  It's quite a strain.

3. You could have gone skiing instead.

4. As friendly as they all seem at coffee and conversation after the service, you can't help feeling as if you are sitting in someone else's living room.

5. You're getting almost as old as the rest of 'em there so your ass is getting kind of scrawny and those pews are @#$%^&* HARD!

6. You thought when they asked you to chair that committee that they actually wanted your input.

7. Nothing ever changes.

8. If they ever change the way they do things, you might have to give them more of your time and money ... 

9. Sitting on one's wallet for a full hour and a half is a long and difficult job and can lead to back problems.

10. You've been away so long that you're afraid they'll make a big deal of it that you came back.

Pinga's picture

Pinga

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 zing, zing, triple zing....

MWS's picture

MWS

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I've felt uncomfortable at different churches when I was centred out as a visitor even though I was promised that it wouldn't happen.  Here's a youtube video that addresses some of the concerns about why some people don't go to church, I really like the "only girly men go to church".


 

chansen's picture

chansen

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Has anybody considered that it's all the fault of the pews?

weeze's picture

weeze

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Spirit bear says: Once again, that says to me, "you're not welcome here".  And in this regard, most ministers, music directors and congregations don't even have a clue about where to start.

Sb, you echo what most people have said here, and I have to say, I feel like I've been kicked in the teeth. Hard. Several times.

Our church is welcoming--I have watched the congregation warmly greet and welcome newcomers, but we never swarm people or ask them to be involved on boards or anything until they give some clue they might like that.  Our organist is lively; the music is mostly traditional but never dull or slow. We are not literalist or fundamentalist or exclusive or judgmental. Preaching is varied, but contemporary, carefully prepared with the lives of the congregation in mind. Spirituality is far more likely to be encouraged than 'toeing the line;' I scarcely know the word  dogma and don't know what that would be around here. I would challenge anyone to find one of our regular attenders who is being a hypocrite by turning up on Sunday, and not living out their faith during the week. These are wonderful, sincere, salt-of-the-earth folks.  Our funerals take about 1/2 hour, unless family members speak longer than the usual 10 minutes when they're offering tributes; the service is personalized and often includes humour and offers the comfort of the care of the faith community, without trying to convert anyone.  Many, many folks have come up to me after funerals and said, "If you were our minister I'd go to church"--but I doubt they would--lots of  folks here for whom I am the minister are very, very appreciative of my ministry but never come to church. I think they don't know what they're missing, but they assume they wouldn't like it if they did come.  I think it's horribly unfair and unjust to judge all churches (and you don't want us to be judmental!!!) by some experience you had years ago, especially if it wasn't even a United Church.  That's just not fair.  We stand unjustly accused.

Again I will ask: did anyone go to church as a response to God's love, or to worship, or to learn and grow in the faith, or was it some kind of passive-aggressive looking for attention-but-not-really-wanting-it?  I'm very much not a Roman Catholic; but I attend there occasionally with my grandkids or for funerals, and while I may object (I do object! I"m a Protestant!) to some of their practices or beliefs, I also know that their church has turned out some wonderful, loving, sincere, compassionate people and I do not condemn them for the things I don't like.  I wouldn't make it in the Baptist church, and I guess if that was my only option for attending worship it would be difficult for me; but for heaven's sake, DO NOT put us all in the same basket.  Be honest. Be fair.  Of course you're not comfortable where you don't know your way around! If you change jobs, what do you do? You learn! You try!  If you move to a different city, you don't just hole up in your apartment--you learn your way around. I have been involved in the United Church all my life--and they're not all the same--but I've never ever run into a nasty congregation like what some of you are describing.  Try again.  And please be decent to the rest of us, whom you have never visited. Please.  I'm bleeding here.

Mendalla's picture

Mendalla

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chansen wrote:

Has anybody considered that it's all the fault of the pews?

 

Yes, if you're talking about physical discomfort.

 

We use chairs at my fellowship. They are of the stackable meeting room variety, but they are still an improvement over many of the pews that I've sat in over the years. I wonder if anyone has ever figured out how to build ergonomic pews? Because it's not the hard seat that bothers me the most nowadays. It's the lousy support for my back.

 

Mendalla

 

Mate's picture

Mate

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our pews are padded.

 

As for nothing ever changes--wrong.

They want more of my time and money.  But I am part of the church any money I vote to spend is my choice.  One can only give what one can give.  Since in reality the people are the church it is the people who decide what to spend and how and where.

 

I feel quite at home and the folks are indeed friendly we are a community.  It works for me.

 

As far as sharing the peace goes and you don't like those words use some others.

 

And yes they do want my opinion.  I am part of "they".  I have a say.

 

Our service is 60-65 minutes.  But with padded pews my ass wouldn't really complain.  I wear a pouch so I don't have to sit on my wallet.

 

Some do take a Sunday of and go skiing or golfing, here almost 12 months of golfing.

 

I don't usually watch TV on Sunday mornings.  I have better things to do like get Breakfast, take a shower etc.  Whose got time to watch TV.

 

LOL

 

Shalom

mate

spiritbear's picture

spiritbear

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Weeze - I think you're missing the point of my comment from two years ago. Yes, the individuals in the congregation are no doubt warm and welcoming (and even if they were not, they would probably be just like me, so how could I criticize?).  Yes the theology invites challenging and thought-provoking questions and searches for deep answers. But we are talking about worship here - how do you keep people engaged and interested enough so that they keep coming back Sunday after Sunday for the rest of their lives?  You've heard the words of Christ's message before. Words that startled people out of complacency when they were first uttered.  Words that are just as valuable and relevent today as when they were first spoken. But do we need to keep returning every Sunday to hear these words again?

 

Before you answer that, my own answer would be yes - there's more than words involved in worship and in the message. And that's where my issue lies about the other message that we've been ignoring - specifically, how we present the Message is also a message (McLuhan, anyone?). And we can't present that message exclusively in a way that hasn't changed for decades or centuries and expect that it will be as engaging as ever.  So why are we afraid of using our imaginations to present that message in a new and fresh way?  Laziness? Dullness?  Lack of creative talent? Burnout (tried that once and it didn't work)?  I have no problem with traditionalists worshipping in a fashion that suits them. But it just doesn't work for me (and my children) who end up being bored out of our tree. Can't the UCCan designate at least ONE church in metropolitan areas that will do things a bit differeanntly?  Do all UCCan churches really have to be SO similar, such that the only real difference is the "friendliness" of the congregation. Well, the people may be friendly, but the worship leaves me emotionally starved. And to repeat once again - don't take that as a criticism of people who find that existing worship styles suit them just fine. Just don't assume that there's only one way of doing worship. 

 

So weeze, I'm not saying that you're an unpleasant or unwelcoming person. I just wish that the circumstances under which we might meet on a Sunday morning would be less soporific.

Pilgrims Progress's picture

Pilgrims Progress

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spiritbear,

I understand what you're saying............

It's why some folk travel up to 150klms every Sunday to attend our church.

Firstly, you need a wonderful orator who knows how to deliver  a good sermon - with a message that relates to life as we live it today.

At least once every two months we have "guests"  - usually ministers or theologians from interstate or overseas who likewise know how to make a service interesting.

When it comes to selecting hymns, our liturgy committee sees what "works". (If you listen you will notice that there are particular hymns that your congregation enjoys singing - repeat them regularly.)

Taize chanting, music by Scott Kearns, "modern" words to familiar hymn tunes........

We always include Bible readings - there is always a place for tradition IMO.

 

We are an inner-city church. It would be more difficult for a small congregation in a small town.............

 

RussP's picture

RussP

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Mendalla

 

Yes, we use chairs as well. It also allows us to use the sanctuary for other important events like the Annual Bazaar and Cabaret night.

 

IT

 

 

Riss

Alidragon's picture

Alidragon

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As I posted on another thread I have not been in church for over 5 years and have panic attaches when I think about going to a service.

I grew up in the united church and have two theology degrees. Worked as both a lienced supply and pupit supply in the United chruch. Then I moved to small rural community out side of Ottawa. (I work in the city) I atttended the local United chruch for several years and tired to become part of the congregation.

But I was not from the community, I was from down east, had no connections to the community. I was single without children. I was educated, I was actually made to feel like my schooling was something I should be ashamed of. qwerty I was asked to sit on several commitees and when I gave my opinion I told to shut up. To this day members of the church have no idea why I left. They have never asked. they do not want to know.

I agree with much of what has already been said. Most churches are not really looking for new members, they say they are but don't really mean it. They are looking for more of the same. If you are a young family from the area they really make you welcome. If you are a 50 something single from out side the area you are looked at with judgement.

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