Please don’t go from these posts and say that I told you not to go to church! I can’t tell you that you have to or that you shouldn’t. I can only tell you that I understand why you may not.
For some people, church has been a source of pain. From my correspondence and counseling (as well as personal experience) I can share some of the sources of that pain. I hope that those who read this will seek to understand.
- Mean people – Certainly broken relationships, judgmental attitudes, betrayed confidences, comparisons, and general unkindness add up to show that people are the primary source of the pain that comes from church. Church people seem to be particularly cruel, in spite of their smiles and spiritual words.
- Official condemnation – By this I mean that there is such an emphasis on sin from the pulpit that the who attend are left with only shame and guilt, rather than hope and love. So many churches and pastors have majored on sin to the exclusion of any other message. To try to attend each Sunday, knowing that it will just be another chance to hear how you can never measure up or please God, is a lot to ask of any believer or seeker.
- Spiritual elitism – From the church that assumes every visitor is a pagan, to the church that makes each person very aware of his or her place in the spiritual structure, this elitism comes across as, “We are better than you.” Those who participate with a group want to know how they may be able to fit into the group someday. These churches seem to go out of their way to make that seem almost impossible.
- Personal life situations – Sometimes we just don’t seem to fit anywhere. Those who have lost a spouse, through death or divorce or even distance, can feel so alone in church that it is a source of pain. Teenagers in an undefined time of life sometimes find any official group function difficult. Job loss, health concerns, weight gain—any of these and so many more can make a person uncomfortable in groups, particularly in groups with the dangers mentioned above.
So what would you add to this list?