The Ideal Church Differs From Reality


My mother was here with me for awhile during my convalescence and she was dismayed at my admission to not setting foot in a church for months. Her admonition was that “you know that is not right” and she proceeded to grill me on “giving up” on God. My reaction was annoyance because for me attending church and relationship with God is two different things (I know many Christians will disagree).  Interestingly, she did not ask if I still prayed, read my bible etc; however, she asked me about giving tithe which I do faithfully by mail.

I do understand the importance of attending church to fellowship with like-minded people and receive spiritual strength from them. While all that is good, the problem is I feel no such thing at church. For many years, attending church makes me very uncomfortable and even more so now that I am single without family attending church with me. It is a place in which I feel no kinship but more like I am in a crowd wearing white while everyone else is wearing black. There is an uneasiness about being amongst those people and trying to find your place which usually takes years if you are a quiet person or having an extraordinatry set of outgoing social skills to speed up the process.

The reality is I hate going to church. I do not want to be around strangers (which they really are). I have spend years in a church and I did not know anything about the people there (including the ones that were my own age) and they did not know me. It all seemed somewhat fake. The greatest joy I experienced related to a church was a many years ago doing outreach ministry (not preaching or shoving the gospel down someone’s throat) but helping others or just going to an hospital for aged to sing or feeding the homeless etc.

My ideal church, in which I had a taste of during college, had an energy and a desire to praise God and serve others but  I am yet to find it in the real world. So here is my list for my ideal church:

-Would have people in my age group that I am able to relate to

-A pastor with fresh ideas on making the gospel applicable to the struggles christians have today

-Have activities that engage the single or other special population in the church instead of stuffing us in the closet

-Not too large in which you get lost or too small in which each member does 10 different things for the church

-Good outreach activities that make a difference in the community and allows church members to become active for God. Most churches are so focused on bringing in more people to boost membership and overlooking the needs of others around them

-Feels more inviting and warm which Jesus intended and was a strong staple of the early Christian church. Having a sense of family

-Simple and less ritualistic, legalistic and organizational

-Open in which to entertain difficult questions without being wacked upside the head with a bible when someone is genuinely seeking guidance

One of the things I admired about Christ’s 3 year ministry was that he not only preached but he met people in their darkest hour to do things for them: healings etc. The churches have loss the ‘doing’ aspect of ministry. Jesus and his ministry was so simple yet highly effective.  The problem is I am as excited to go to church as I am to sit in an all day conference for my job.  I doubt I will find my ideal church so I have to wait until I am moved spiritually to set foot back in and enjoy attending a church.

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6 thoughts on “The Ideal Church Differs From Reality

  1. I wanted to encourage you to keep looking for a church where you feel comfortable. I have also gone to churches where I felt like I didn’t fit in, but I kept looking until I found one that was the right fit for me. I am also young and single and extremely shy but I was able to find a church that had everything that I was looking for, similar to what you described in a church home you desired. I know this is unsolicited advice, but the impact that the people that I have met and befriended have been huge in my relationship with God in a positive way. Those churches are out there and if it helps my church is nondenominational and multicultural.

    1. Thanks Lee for your encouragement. I have not totally given up on finding a church but I have not been looking recently. I do realize the impact of a good church community and I definately miss that. I miss sharing and learning “all things God” with others

  2. Thank you so very much for your honesty. I, too, share in your sentiments regarding church attendance. Last Sunday, while there, I wanted to get up an scream just so someone would know that I was even there! I know that I will never turn my back on God , but I am seeking a place of worship where I will fit in and, like you said, not be stuffed into the ‘singles’ closet. I kinda of think that if Jesus were walking in most any church, His focus would not be entirely on families, couples and children. He would probably want to meet the singlle christians and every other marginalized group- just to tell them He loved them too!!

    1. I totally agree with you Pamela. The words to a Christian song stated that Jesus himself would not be accepted in most of our churches. Jesus’ ministry was with the marginal groups: tax collectors, poor, prostitues, and people put aside by the main religion. It’s not comforting to feel lost in the one place you should be most welcomed.

  3. Your candidness is refreshing. I would imagine many of us have found ourselves at place of frustration and lack of interest in the institution of church at some point in our lives.

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