25 Comments

  1. Alexandra

    Gosh, the Lord’s timing is perfect…needed this today. Been struggling with dealing with issues with past churches, and dealing with that hurt and sometimes even anger that you talked about. Anyway, another issue came up today that brought it all back. And this was just what I needed. Thanks so much for your transparency and willingness to share your story…it’s such a blessing and encouragement!!!

  2. Janet

    In the past year I left the church that I had been a member of for 25+ years. Things were great when I was single, and even after the adoption of my two daughters. When I adopted my son, things quickly went down hill (in my perspective). When had semi-major surgery I had 10 minutes of a pastor’s time (because the bishop was coming the next day!), and two lay visitors came not even 15 minutes after we made it to his room. Heard from no one on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Then he was diagnosed with autism, which is a very un-glamorous thing. While he could be in the nursery things were “ok”. But as he got older the challenges got bigger. I was always told (usually on my answering machine!) “call if you need us”. What folks who don’t have sped kids don’t realize is that it takes a whole lot of energy and time to make those calls. I did go to one of the ministers and ask if they wanted us to continuing going and what I needed. Running into members in the community I would hear “you can go with him to Sunday School” (duh and when do I get the worship I need!?) or “can you get one of your friends who have a kid like him to do it? (and they would have the time/energy?) and the real winner was “have you looked into different churches?”

    Could I have been part of the solution? Most certainly! But that would have required time and energy that I didn’t have. (Single mom, 3 kids, autism, full-time work) It was much easier to do the laundry on Sunday morning so I could go to bed at a reasonable time on Sunday night so I could be ready for work/school/therapy the following week.

    What I did was quit going (they never noticed). The past fall I found a congregation (same denomination) that has an autism ministry. My son has someone with him who loves, adores and understands him and I and my girls get the worship we so badly need (though at 12 and 14 they don’t really think so 😉

  3. Wow in a good way. You just wrote a page out of my mom’s life 30 years ago. When I was a teenager my family moved to Tenn. we found a southern baptist church to go to. My dad ended up working out of state alot leaving just my mom and i there. Like you she was looking to connect and found the situation, joining classes and group only to leave empty and hurt. One christmas party we attended, shortly after arriving she got me to leave only to sit in the parking lot with her crying so hard she could not drive. The next sunday we attended our ss classes, when mine was over I sat in the sanctuary waiting for her. When her class was over she got me and stormed out of our church. She slammed the door so hard I thought the glass in the windows were going to fall out and break. Later I learned that she had confronted her group and that week they visited with her and worked things out. They became a group of ladies that grew and reached out to all new comers. When we moved there was lots of tears between them. God was glorified as in your situation. As a teenage it impacted me and I made the choice to reach out and encourage new members so that no one ever feels like she did. Thank you for writing this article. Awareness needs to be made when 30 years later the scenrio is still playing out.
    In His Love, Crisi

  4. […] Leaving a church is hard. It leaves a void – and after we left our church in the fall of 2011, I immediately started searching for another church to attend. I chose to visit another independent fundamental Baptist church across town. It was a good church, fine, people were friendly, but something happened in the morning service that frustrated me and ultimately kept me from ever visiting again. […]

  5. “I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. I didn’t ask for prayers, love, and support when I wanted it. Instead I focused on all of the ways in which I wasn’t getting help and support.” <– This is what I did throughout my husband's deployment. So beautifully written!

  6. Amy Beth

    Thanks for sharing this! This is something I’ve struggled with often over the last several year (since my senior year of college). As a single woman on my own in new towns (first London, then El Paso, then Lexington, KY, then Denver) it was hard to find a church and get into a group. I was blessed to find a church in London where I was immediately welcomed, without even trying, and plugged into a group of fellow 20-something college students, invited to events and special services – I even went on a retreat with them. Even though I was only there for a 3 month study abroad program, I truly felt I’d found a church home. In Lexington I had a harder time, the churches I visited were welcoming, but at one the group was mostly older singles and young marrieds, I was by far the youngest and kind as they were I just felt out of place. At the other group I was older than the mostly college student crowd and felt equally out of place. I confess though, that I knew I wasn’t going to live there for more than a year either, so I didn’t make much effort to invest in those relationships like I might have if I’d been planning to make it truly my home. I found a similar situation in El Paso and when I moved back to Colorado I found a church in Denver where I loved the music and the preaching was sound – but I had to email the contact information they provided three times before I finally got plugged into a small group. And though I tried to come ready to discuss and fellowship with the other small group members – two other members made it clear from a few months in that my presence was unwanted . . . I’m still not sure what I did that seemed to so annoy them, but rather than talk to me about it they just got passive aggressive. I eventually left that small group and that church – I just wasn’t willing to try again (which is partly my own fault – no matter how justified I felt). For a while I didn’t go to any church at all – barely read my Bible, or anything that tied me to my faith. I did school, I worked part-time and I spent a lot of time alone. It was a dark time, those 3 years. Very lonely. I got a new job after grad school though and moved again. I found a church I liked pretty quickly, and tried to get plugged in as soon as I had picked it. I got involved in the worship team, tried to find a small group (but none of them worked for my work schedule) and started participating in the meal program. It’s been a year though and I still couldn’t say I’ve made any true friends there – but I do feel involved and supported by the staff of the church at the very least. Finally, the last Sunday I was there, I got in a longer conversation with the wife of our new sound guy. We’d both lived in the same area of Texas for a while and both share a passion for homesteading (even though neither of us currently owns land – we both dream of it). I wouldn’t say we’re friends based on one conversation, but I’m finally feeling hopeful that I will make some friends here and not have to go home to my dog and be alone every evening for more nights, more weeks, more months, more years. I’ve allowed the pain of past hurts to excuse me from trying again – but that’s not what God would have me do, or anyone for that matter. I’ve come to realize that I have to be the change I want to see. If a church seems unwelcoming – then I need to become welcoming to others. If they don’t seem to have a niche for me, I need to talk with the leadership and find it. I have to take a more active role in service and not expect that I will always be served.

    • “If a church seems unwelcoming – then I need to become welcoming to others. If they don’t seem to have a niche for me, I need to talk with the leadership and find it. I have to take a more active role in service and not expect that I will always be served.” <—well said!

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