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Helping those who feel they don't fit into a church

Part 1

 

Many people stay away the odd week in the hope that someone will make contact and say they have been missed.

Some reasons for feeling an odd fit

Many people feel that they do not fit into a church. They may have tried a few, maybe not. When people move house they need to find a new church but many donítóthis is the main reason today why people drift away from the church in the UK. Other possible reasons for leaving a church are that the leadership has changed at the church someone has attended for a while or there have developed some relationship difficulties with a particular person who has made it clear they do not like them. Perhaps they have gone along and enjoyed the worship but have never got involved at any deeper levelónot make friendships with anyone or never got involved in other activities there.

Many people stay away the odd week in the hope that someone will make contact and say they have been missed. Sometimes infrequent attendance just becomes more infrequent and no conscious choice was made to stop going. Do you know anyone in this situation? They may just need you to say, ďcome with me, your place is empty.Ē

There may be much more to it though. If someone feels they do not fit then they will not want to stay.

In this article and the next I am going to look at four types of reasons why people feel they do not fit into a church and how to overcome that feeling. The first two are more spiritually based problems and the following article will look at the more practical problems of having greater needs than the church can meet and there not being opportunities to use gifts.

 

 

 

 

 

Some...leave as soon as they are challenged to show some maturity in any way.

Tried a few

I think everywhere I have ever lived there has been a person or people who everyone knows donít settle into a church. They go here for a little while, feel they donít fit so move and go somewhere else for a while. They feel they donít fit there either so move on to another church for a bit. They may return to a previous church after a few years hopping this time it will work but no, so off they go again. They feel they just donít fit. What is going on here? God made every Christian part of his body of believers so why does it feel like there is no place for them?

Church is Godís idea. It is an important place needed for each Christian to grow. Yes, we can be patient when we are on our own but can we be patient when rubbing along with people who donít do things the way we do? Yes, we can be loving to our friends who are like us, but can we be show the love of God to those we find unlovely? The church is Godís proving ground of our growing faith. For some they will find they do not fit into a church because they have no wish to flex and grow as a Christian and so leave as soon as they are challenged to show some maturity in any way.

 

 

 

 

If you are growing, flexible and prayerful, I believe, in most circumstances, God will provide the strength to overcome many problems including past hurts.

 

 

 

Is this you? 

Is this you? Sometimes it can be difficult to be honest with ourselves and we deny a truth which calls our choices into question. If you have moved church many times because you feel there is no place for you, could this be at the root of some of your difficulties? Be honest with yourself. It is easy to place the blame onto others, ďI was pushed outĒ, but the first port of call should be with your own behaviour and expectations. This is a hard thing that I am saying, I know. I am not saying that there is no fault on the part of others but you are not responsible for them. Are you flexible and growing or do you find things difficult because you come up against hard things and will not give at all, preferring to leave the church than to work through the problem? If you are growing, flexible and prayerful, I believe, in most circumstances, God will provide the strength to overcome many problems including past hurts and you will find a place in the church of your choice.

Do you know someone who feels they do not fit and hops about from church to church as described above? Prayerfully consider whether God wants them to be approached about it. Yes they may take offence but they are leaving anyway and you may alert them to a character trait they had never noticed in themselves before. This may be the start of growth in this area.

Do you know someone like this?

Do you know someone who used to be a frequent attendee but no longer goes to church? Pray about whether you should approach them to talk through their reasons for leaving. There may be some real hurt that no one realised had arisen. There may be some perceived hurt that never was grounded in reality. There are as many different reasons for people to leave a church as there are people who go. Find out the particular circumstances involvedóas I said it might just be that someone wants to be invited back. If it turns out that some serious counselling is needed and you are not equipped to do that then try to steer that person towards the help they needóbut you canít make them get help. Just showing Godís love and care can make a difference in the most dire of circumstances.

If the Holy Spirit has left maybe it is right that you should leave too.

Church in name only

Keeping things simple (and things are never simple in church life) a degree of the opposite can be the root of an in ability to fit in. By this I mean that the problem is not with an individual but with the church. The church itself may be unwilling to change and grow and you as an incomer may be a challenge to them. Perhaps the collected group have become a pally party of like minded club goers who call themselves ďchurchĒ. You will need to be sure of the mind of God about whether you can make a difference or whether you should leave well alone. If the Holy Spirit has left maybe it is right that you should leave too. It doesnít mean that you need to stop praying for them unless God tells you not to spend your prayer time there. Prayer commitment may be just what they need but God may direct you elsewhere for teaching and fellowship.

Expect the long haul, work for the long haul, donít give up easily.

Donít give up

Starting again in a new church can be a difficult experience. I have been to a number of churches and I never look forward to the move. Yes there is an initial excitement at new opportunities but I think it takes me about three years to feel well settled in and I am the ministers wife! Expect the long haul, work for the long haul, donít give up easily. You are a part of a body and should not be a limb hanging about on your own.

Next time we will look at two more reasons why some people find it difficult to fit into a church.

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.