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

Part 2

Moving on to more practical problems

I want to continue to look at some reasons why some people find it difficult to settle into a church and feel comfortable being a part of the body of believers in a particular place. Last time I touched on some spiritually based difficulties. This time I want to move on to some more practical problems.

Greater needs

On one occasion, whilst away from home in my late teens, I attended a church on the Sunday where I felt odd. I was welcomed in a friendly enough way but everyone was at least 40 years older than me. Now that I am older and more mature in my faith I donít believe that this would bother me quite so much if these people had an active faith, but when young it was important. If I had been looking for a home church I doubt that it would have been this one at that time.

Yes, we go to church primarily to worship God but church is also supposed to fulfil other functions too. We need to examine whether a particular church can meet those needs or are we just being fussy? If you are looking for a church which pleases you in every way you are being unrealistic and the problem is yours in the first instance not the churchís. There may be much that a church needs to do but no church will ever please you in every way.

Yes, we go to church primarily to worship God but church is also supposed to fulfil other functions too.

 

 

 

 

Donít just leave.

 

 

Thinking about what your issues are

If you believe practical issues are at the root of your unsettled feelings try to examine why you feel you do not fit. Perhaps the following questions will help.

Are all ages represented or are you strikingly different (much younger, much older than the majority etc.)?

Do people have a different lean in theology to you?

Are you in need of teaching that is not met here?

Do you have other needs of a church at the moment which they cannot meet?

Are you looking for a perfect church?

Are these personal feelings or practical problems? - Can they be overcome in any way? - Should they be overcome or is it really time to move on? - Donít just leave.

Please take the time to discuss with the leadership what your problems are. If you decide to leave tell the leadership why you are going and, if appropriate, give them a chance to address the issues you raise. They may not know what you think and feel and there may be something they can do.

In England it is part of our cultural make up to not be self promoting so we are left with a problem.

Limited opportunities

Everyone likes to feel useful but in England it is part of our cultural make up to not be self promoting so we are left with a problem. We wonít ďblow our own trumpetĒ and tell everyone what we are good at and what our experiences are and the church is very poor at asking what we want to do and can do. Many people are left feeling there is no place for them to use their gifts. Unless you make friends quickly in a new church and people get to know you and talk through your past (before you joined a church) then it can be difficult to become useful. There is no system for growing people and their gifts in many churches.

Or another situation may apply. I remember talking to one person in a church who was past retirement age. She had been in that same church all her life. At work as the years passed by she had received continual training and promotion being given ever more demanding tasks and responsibilities. At church she made the tea and coffee which she had always done for decades and decades. To her credit she did it willingly and faithfully but underneath it all she wanted to do much more.

You are called by God not by the church so expect to move on God's instruction not that of the church.

Job vacancies

But letís draw a parallel from the world outside the church. If you want a new job you either go and apply for one to those already in your line of business or you go to a Job Centre or agency where someone knows what jobs are available. You may not get the first job. You may be told to go and get some qualifications first, or more experience. The parallel falls down in church because God has a job for you guaranteed but you might just need to go about finding it in a similar way you would a job outside. You need to go and search out opportunities and not just wait for one to come your way.

I know some people will think this is wrong and perhaps it is in many ways, but you are called by God, not by the church, so expect to move on God's instruction not that of the church.

For some, I know you need help to get you going. Consider if any of the paragraphs below might help you. And don't forget to act and pray as well as think about it!

Speak to the church leader and tell them what you want to do.

Is there someone already doing something you are interested in? Go and talk to them about it or ask the minister to introduce you. Just because someone is already doing your thing doesnít mean there isnít room for two.

If no one is doing anything like your dream, to use business language,  start a new ďcompanyĒ. Speak to the church leader and tell them what you want to do.

If it helps write it down. Write a cv outlining your experience and, maybe, qualifications. Write down your hopes and dreams. Show it to your church leader.

Maybe you want to do something but donít know where your gifts lie or what may be useful to your church. Write down three lists.

Firstly a list of everything that you like doing e.g. washing up, gardening, talking on the telephone, shopping, reading, etc. Donít forget specifically Christian things like praying etc. too.

Write down your character traits (maybe ask a friend to help) e.g. friendly, not easily panicked, organised, tidy, discreet.

Write down what you have experience at e.g. working at home by yourself, responsibility for children, counting money, filing paperwork etc.

Take these lists to your church leader and discuss what you might be able to do. Donít forget to pray over all these things. Hopefully something will come to light.

You are needed

It may not be a part of our cultural make up to push ourselves forward but let me tell you to sensitively do just that. You are needed, donít let yourself or the body of Christ miss out. Those who don't feel they have anything to contribute soon lose the desire to part of something. Keep working at fitting in somewhere. As I have already said, God has a spot just for you.

(place holder)

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.