Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Break From Church, Part 1: Introduction and Background

I promised people on my Facebook that I would write more about this issue. It got super long and fairly unorganized, though, so I decided to break it up into a 3-part series, spreading it out over the next couple of days, grouping collected thoughts together. (Plus, that makes it look like I'm awesome and follow through on series. I MEAN I TOTALLY DO THAT.)

I haven't yet worked out entirely how I want to say this yet, and I may not for years. This is just a start.

Also, I debated calling this series "Why I Don't Go To Church Anymore," but I didn't want to scare TOO many of my friends into thinking I'd abandoned God or something. I promise I haven't.

John Shore wrote a blog last week sharing a story of a 67-year-old woman who had stopped going to church a few years prior and found her faith had actually gotten stronger than ever since then. This prompted him to ask the question, "Is church necessary?"

I have been asking myself this for the past several years.

I have not been a regular churchgoer since 2009, when I first went off to college. At first I tried to do The Right Thing and find a church. I found one where the people seemed nice and lots of college kids attended, but week after week I found it more and more difficult to go. There were at least three Sundays where I fought all morning to make myself go to church and then, in tears, decided I should probably just stay home and was overwhelmed by conflicting senses of guilt and relief.

The more often I stayed home though, the better I felt. The more likely I was to read my Bible on my own. The more energy I had to have serious spiritual discussions with my friends. I felt happier, more alert, more interested in spiritual matters. So I didn't go back. I really only returned to church on visits home, when I felt I should probably go as a matter of solidarity.

I pondered over and over again the reasons I should go, the reasons I'd been told all my life that I should go. And none of them seemed to make sense to me. And, honestly, none of them do now, either. I'm still pondering, but with less guilt than before, and I'm beginning to wonder whether constant churchgoing is ever going to be the norm for me.


  1. Church, no. Community and something that challenges the way you think about God, yes. Pursuing God alongside other people is important, but how you do that is not the "you must go to church every Sunday" thing that we grew up with.

    1. That is primarily where I've settled, although I keep coming around to this question every so often. I want to make sure that throwing out my churchgoing isn't throwing out something that is important for me to keep.