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BillM

Church, I Miss It But...

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I confess that I really don't attend church much anymore. It may sound selfish, but it just doesn't do anything for me. And I've moved far in my own theology to where I don't think God, such that God is, needs or wants worship. So the notion that I need to go to church in order to worship God is, IMO, ancient superstition based upon a deity with self-esteem problems. What kind of person needs to continually be told how great or awesome they are?

 

What I do miss is the fellowship. I have (or had) some pretty good friends there at church. Yet none of them have been to see us in our "dark night of the soul" or during my wife's open-heart surgery. They assured us, via email, that they are praying for us. But, being human, I'd rather see someone face-to-face then to have them tell me that I'm in their prayers.

 

The UMC church that I have a membership at is, of course, in the middle of debating whether or not homosexuals can be licensed by their denomination. Their Book of Discipline has forbidden it. Yet there are, no doubt, many pastors in UMC pulpits who are in homosexual relationships. I have no problem with it. But it's a shame that this issue is tearing the UMC church apart.

 

I find that the hymns, though pretty, seldom reflect what I believe. I have to cross my fingers if I say the Creeds. I don't take part in Communion because, to me, it is representative of cannibalism which Jesus, being a Jew, would never have supported.

 

I visited a UUA church while I was in Boston. The UUAs have a long history of progressive social and theological movements. But they are, currently, only about 20% confessing Christian. That may be an option I pursue.

 

Another option is a UCC church here in Fort Worth. I've visited a few times and quite a number of sermons would fit right in with PC. But it is quite a drive away.

 

So I miss church. But I feel that I can't truly be who I am at the church that I have my membership. It is too constrained by doctrine and tradition.

 

 

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Personally I don't miss church at all.

 

I have not attended "church" except for christenings, weddings and funerals for the last forty five years. Since my confirmation.

 

It was never a place of fellowship, in that just about everyone at least twice my age. So for this "fellowship" has been friends, neighbours, work etc.

 

After James died nine years ago I felt a need to "give back". Ended up joining Rotary. I suspect any service club would have worked. I wonder if Texas is different in that it is heavily Christianized? The UK where I spent my formative years was effectively secular on a day to day basis. And even here in Canada the subject of church rarely comes up.

Edited by romansh

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>>It was never a place of fellowship, in that just about everyone at least twice my age<<

 

After 45 years, I'm guessing this is not an issue anymore :)

 

Seriously, it is hard to find a good church but there are things to look for. One is to find a church with a strong social justice ministry. Get involved in what the church does outside the walls.

 

A second is to look for a church with a lot of retired clergy. They will be able to discuss theology on an intelligent level.

 

Third is to look for a church with an eye for what you can bring to it rather than what it can bring to you.

 

Disciples of Christ or the Wesleyan Church are often good liberal choices. Free-thinking, but still based on Christ and not pop psychology.

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BillM

 

I also don't attend church. You're lucky that you live in USA. Here, in Poland, Roman Catholic Church dominates. Then we have Jehova's witnesses. Most liberal [but i don't think that progressive too] is Polish Reformed Church. But "liberal" in Poland means, that they officially allow condoms ;)

 

I also miss some people from closed brethren [darbysts]. But their doctrines don't allow to talk with me - only to persuade me to return.

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>>It was never a place of fellowship, in that just about everyone at least twice my age<<

 

After 45 years, I'm guessing this is not an issue anymore :)

 

Seriously, it is hard to find a good church but there are things to look for. One is to find a church with a strong social justice ministry. Get involved in what the church does outside the walls.

 

A second is to look for a church with a lot of retired clergy. They will be able to discuss theology on an intelligent level.

 

Third is to look for a church with an eye for what you can bring to it rather than what it can bring to you.

 

Disciples of Christ or the Wesleyan Church are often good liberal choices. Free-thinking, but still based on Christ and not pop psychology.

 

Why does it have to be a church Burl?

 

I would argue most secular service organizations do this as well?

 

Theology? I think Dawkins was a little cruel when he described this as a non existent subject, but I do think he had a point. Many of us here describe God as love. which is fair enough. But I can't help thinking we are missing out on all our other emotions. That evolution would allow us to have love and other emotions is for me a far more interesting subject than the "God is Love".

 

plus why just churches and not mosques and temples?

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Ditto here Bill,

As far as missing the fellowship for me at least, I have gotten past that point and found others with similar or acceptable different views in my personal life that don't grieve my spirit as they don't seem to feel a need to convert or force their views on others. If church was more sharing by a greater number of participants than being preached at by one, it would seem to me to be a lot easier pill to swallow. Lol

Joseph

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I stopped going to Church finally when I was about 21, after trying to cling on from the age of 18 but failing miserably. As I couldn't believe what was being preached anymore, I couldn't enjoy participating. I did grieve the loss of friendships and support, but I moved on as you do and found that friendship and support elsewhere. Sometimes I miss it, but rarely.

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I find our different experiences of church to be interesting and fascinating, especially between one side of the pond and the other. I admit that when I was young, I rather enjoyed the notion that the pastor had all the answers and it was my role to be the student. But as I've grown old (ha ha), I no longer see things that way. About 3 months ago, my UMC pastor told the children, during the "Children's Sermon" that the creation stories in Genesis were fact. The UMC should know better by now. I mean, I love these people but they simply hold to a different view than I do, not only of the world, but of Christianity and what it means. I can no longer fit into the cookie-cutter mentality of the institutional church. I've become one of what Spong calls "the church alumni association."

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Hi Bill

I can relate to missing the fellowship, in spite of no-one stepping up in your 'dark' times.

 

When looking around for a progressive congregation, I stumbled upon the UU's. It was their friendliness, along with respect for different spiritualities and beliefs, that kept me going back. The lack of Christian focus took some getting used to, but I can now appreciate the plural sources of inspiration speakers use.

 

 

Annie

 

 

What I do miss is the fellowship. I have (or had) some pretty good friends there at church. Yet none of them have been to see us in our "dark night of the soul" or during my wife's open-heart surgery. They assured us, via email, that they are praying for us. But, being human, I'd rather see someone face-to-face then to have them tell me that I'm in their prayers.

 


I visited a UUA church while I was in Boston. The UUAs have a long history of progressive social and theological movements. But they are, currently, only about 20% confessing Christian. That may be an option I pursue.

 


 

 

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That's what appeals to me also, Annie, hearing from varied sources of wisdom.

 

I don't mean anything disrespectful, but the label 'Christian' doesn't mean very much to me anymore, especially when it comes to churches. My local UCC is very progressive theologically and socially here in Fort Worth (and very proud of it), while definitely having a 'Christian' context. But Landover Baptist also claims to be 'Christian' and that is a community where I would never want to be a part.

 

But my wife, whom I love with all of my heart, is still deeply 'Christian' and though she attended the UU churches with me, she found that they weren't 'Christian' enough. (No crosses, no hymns, no scripture reading, prayers to God) I couldn't help but think to myself, "Where did Jesus teach to build structures with crosses on display? Where did he say to sing hymns of praise to me? Where did he say to have public readings of scripture or public prayers? :) But my wife is indeed a good 'Christian' and I respect her desires. She is most comfortable in the UMC right now. That's okay with me. But she has agreed to go to the UCC with me once a month. My role as her husband is to love her just as she is and to encourage her own spiritual journey, not to force it in any particular way or direction.

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A lot of our congregation members come without their spouses, who don't feel spiritually at home with us, being either conservative Christian or disinterested in this type of faith group. I agree that respecting the spiritual orientation of a partner is vital, if challenging at times.

 

Interestingly our meeting house (built in 1901 as a Unitarian church) has stained-glass crosses on the side window panes.

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I live in such an "in-between" place, Annie. When it comes to church, here are the things I love:

The friends I have there.

The stained-glass windows.

The singing in unison.

The moments of silence during prayer time.

The pastor's thoughts on things.

Hearing about the good things our church is doing in our community.

 

And here are the things I loathe:

Saying the Creeds as if doing this makes one a Christian.

The words of most of the hymns.

Saying, "Lord, hear our prayer" after every prayer request, as if God is deaf.

The pastor thinking he/she is speaking for God to the congregation.

The church believing that the church and the kingdom of God are exactly the same thing.
Most of the theology revolving around sinful humanity, a holy God, and a necessary human sacrifice to bridge the separation.

The UMC believing that the Book of Discipline is more sacred than the findings of science.

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