Thoughts about church


I’m not in a great place mentally about church right now.

I realize the practice of going to a church building to worship has been interrupted in many ways by the pandemic, but my lax approach started showing up long before the pandemic.

I got the weekly email from the church I still belong to on Friday, and it talked about “worship in the parking lot.” Since I have been so sporadic about showing up, I am really not sure who I would still know if I presented myself at this parking lot worship experience.

I think I’ve been a little petulant with God about this. I’ve switched churches (and denominations) many times over the decades. I kind of wonder if I got a little attached to the novelty of being the “new person” in a congregation. There’s a flurry of “being welcomed,” the fun of getting to know new people, the relief of leaving any unfinished business behind.

The church that felt most like home closed in 2012. I had already left it for very good reasons (and the reasons weren’t just about me chasing the novelty of being the new person). Yet, returning to attend its closing service was like a door closing in a way.

I know (fully) that the church is not the building. I know it’s the people, and I know I haven’t contributed in any consistent way keeping the fabric of any congregation from growing weak and being shredded in the last few years.

There’s no neat and tidy ending to this post, just the acknowledgement that I miss making that contribution; I miss the moments of contemplation and worship.

I miss a communion that is about more than bread and wine.

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

12 thoughts on “Thoughts about church

  1. I feel you, Paula. I was a pastor’s wife for 22 years but after leaving that marriage, I have not returned to church. What’s weird is that it sure feels like my faith is stronger than ever – and my relationship with God is more real than ever before. I have plenty of friends who are believers. But the idea of being part of a church right now, to me, carries too much baggage to be appealing at all.

    • Hi Sue. Faith definitely evolves, and it sounds like your path has had lots of twists and turns. Being on the vestry is not at *all* the type of pressure being a pastor’s wife is, but someone told me once that being on a vestry changes your relationship with the church forever (not always in a positive way). It didn’t ruin the experience for me, but it did give me a very different angle on many aspects of church life. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with me.

    • I’m so glad, Diane. I still love it too (which is why there feels like a void right now). I work things out by writing, so someday I’ll probably look back on this post as a point in time that eventually got resolved. Nice hearing from you.

  2. Like you, I miss communion that is more than breaking bread. I’m sure you are not alone in your feelings as I too am not part of a physical church but for different reasons from yours.

    Your FMF neighbor.

  3. I have never been a church (in my case, synagogue,) goer. Part of that was lack of spirituality (although that has increased with age), another part was being an introvert, and still another part of it was being in an interfaith marriage (my husband is Christian, but he hasn’t gone to church in forever except for funerals and weddings.) But I did identify with your post. You are missing something and, in these times, I think it’s important for you to figure out what is missing in your life and find a way to fulfill it. I think just writing this post may have helped you – I hope so. We all need connection of some kind – even an introvert like me, I’ve discovered.

    • Yes, all of this is true, Alana (fellow introvert here). I’m sure the pandemic has not helped and has made small problems seem bigger and big problems seem … unmanageable or distant. Thanks for being here as I explored this.

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