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To go to church

(45 Posts)
ArriettyMatilda Mon 28-Mar-16 19:26:18

Does anyone here go to church even if they don't believe in God? I attended the local Catholic church with dp when I moved here. I stopped going because I don't think I believe in God, I couldn't be bothered to get up early on a Sunday and it felt like a waste of time. I tried a new church with dp and dd recently and really enjoyed the service and I thought this is what's been missing in my life. I won't pretend that it's come from God, I believe it was the atmosphere of the church and because it felt so familiar from my childhood. It was also fun! Everyone was so welcoming, but this only made me feel more like a fraud. Would I be unreasonable to go to services and tell dd that this is what some people believe dp being one of them?

acasualobserver Mon 28-Mar-16 19:31:25

...really enjoyed the service and I thought this is what's been missing in my life ... I believe it was the atmosphere of the church and because it felt so familiar from my childhood. It was also fun! Everyone was so welcoming ...

Reasons enough to carry on going. Don't beat yourself up about whether you believe in God - whatever that means.

John4703 Mon 28-Mar-16 19:38:20

We go to church regularly, I have been a church goer most of my life and when my wife and I got together we started attending a church near her house together.
My wife has found the church to be a wonderful help over the past three years of treatment for breast cancer. It is a group of caring people who do so many little things to help.
I'd say if you want to go to church them go and enjoy the experience and enjoy the people. I do think that God is the influence that makes the people in the church so caring but some would hardly admit to that.

Toadinthehole Mon 28-Mar-16 19:39:00


I've been going to church for 25 years. Sometimes I feel I believe in God, sometimes I don't. It's the ethos that I know I believe in.

TBH I wouldn't feel like a fraud if I were Catholic, because I believe Catholics understand quite well the ebb and flow of faith and the intellect. I probably would feel a fraud in a Pentecostal church where demonstrations of faith are more overt.

ArriettyMatilda Mon 28-Mar-16 19:56:41

The church we went to recently is cofe I think but quite evangelical. I feel more of a fraud at the Catholic one because I am not Catholic and so can't take communion. Neither can dp as we are not married and have had a child. This is what the priest told him. That really pissed me off actually, which probably contributed to me not wanting to attend that and his sermon on abortion

Thank you for all your support, I doubt we'll be weekly attendees but there is a real community at this church. We already attend the toddler group and dd will be attending their preschool later in the year.

pointythings Mon 28-Mar-16 20:13:07

If it gives you something you feel you need, and which makes you happy, why not? And who is to say that this is not your way of connecting with your spirituality? And maybe your faith will return and you will be happier for it. That is what matters.

And I say this as a total, stone atheist.

SheHasAWildHeart Mon 28-Mar-16 20:22:04

I am Muslim. DD7 attends a Catholic school so I have been to services at the local church linked to the school. My mum passes away recently, I am planning on attending some Sunday services with DD. I find it calming and spiritual, even though I'm not always sure what to do!

Musicaltheatremum Mon 28-Mar-16 20:54:22

Shehasawildheart. That is very reassuring. I hope you are welcomed with open arms.

TeacupsandFigs Mon 28-Mar-16 20:58:55

I would feel less comfortable in a Catholic church too, mainly because of the communion rules exclude me from receiving; I left the Catholic church and converted to C of E. That said, any church or place of worship is equally valid as far as I am concerned, because of my job I have visited a synagogue and gudwara and shared prayers with a Muslim woman.

IonaNE Mon 28-Mar-16 21:08:24

The way you choose a church is examine the doctrine and decide in your heart if you think that is the truth. What you receive in Catholic Holy Communion is not what you receive in the Church of England or the Lutheran church or elsewhere.

Practising "supermarket religion" (=going where it's "nice") is like a nice antique wheelbarrow placed in the middle of the park, planted full of colourful flowers. It's pleasing to the eye - but it's not what a wheelbarrow is for.

Sharesinpampers Mon 28-Mar-16 21:18:55

Not sure I'm quite with Iona though I understand, I think, where the principle comes from. If you are attending church (sometimes or regularly) then I would absolutely stick with a 'nice' church that you enjoy and feel welcome in.

If you're becoming a member of a church, which generally means professing faith, committing to serve/help at church, financial giving etc then it is very important to read the doctrine and ensure you believe the same thing.

However it is entirely possible to attend church and not be a member. You would be very welcome to do that at our church and many others. It's how many explore their faith and come to understand what they do and don't believe.

acasualobserver Mon 28-Mar-16 21:19:12

Practising "supermarket religion"

Do you think the OP is guilty of this?

IonaNE Mon 28-Mar-16 21:39:33

Sharesinpampers, thanks for the point of attending a church and not being a member, I had not thought of that and I agree.

On the other hand I would like to add that I belong to my Church because I have studied Christian doctrine (in fact I have a degree in Theology) and I am certain that the Church I belong to is the one founded by Christ and holds the fullness of truth. This means that if I move to a new town (or country, as I have) and there are 5 Christian churches and the one belonging to my denomination is sparsely populated, miserable and uninviting, whereas the other 4 are all vibrant, welcoming, happy and full of young people, great music and exciting socials, I will still continue to attend the church belonging to my Church because of the doctrine it holds and the treasures of the sacraments that no other Church holds.

PastaLaFeasta Mon 28-Mar-16 21:42:38

I think the church, especially a CoE evangelical, will be delighted to have an undecided new member. It is surprising how many people are questioning their faith or happily are uncertain, some with rather more open interpretations of Christianity. I'm the same, I like the whole Jesus thing, the messages and core beliefs but I'm not certain of God's existence and this fluctuates a lot. Churches often run courses for new attendees and they are targeted to people who want to find out more, even non believers. I don't think this is the case for all churches and suspect Catholic Churches would be less open in this way. CoE also tends to be more liberal in who they accept and rules about baptisms, weddings, communion etc.

inthemorningsky Mon 28-Mar-16 21:47:04


I don't believe in God for me, but I do for other people. Which makes no sense, but I go!

acasualobserver Mon 28-Mar-16 21:47:05

Practising "supermarket religion"

Do you think the OP is guilty of this?

corythatwas Mon 28-Mar-16 21:48:22

Iona, surely not everyone who goes to church can have an in-depth understanding of doctrine? And if, like me, you cannot find a local church of your own denomination, surely it is better to go somewhere and pray?

chanie44 Mon 28-Mar-16 21:57:25

I'm Catholic and I admit to returning to church to get my my children into the local catholic school. I went to the first church for a couple of years, but only went through the motions of going. I have nice found a new church (also Catholic) which has a much nicer 'feel' to it and I'm happy to go.

In terms of belief, I do believe, but I don't feel a connection if that makes sense.

Ameliablue Mon 28-Mar-16 22:00:08

I think if you enjoy it you should continue going. As a Catholic I don't think there is anything wrong with attending even if you don't believe.

JemimaMuddledUp Mon 28-Mar-16 22:08:47


I started going to church as my DC attended the Sunday School. I didn't believe and was hugely cynical (it was DH who wanted the DC to go to Sunday School). But gradually I became more involved and realised that there was a God shaped hole in my life. I was confirmed 2 years ago and am now on the Reading rota and help with the Sunday School. I love it! I'm glad nobody turned me away when I wasn't sure.

wigglesrock Mon 28-Mar-16 22:14:43

My husband goes to mass with me the odd time and he doesn't believe in God anymore at all. He goes with us because he likes to come along with us. Sometimes he just likes to sit and the rhythm of prayers, the ritual of it all reminds him of his childhood, he quite likes it, but he doesn't believe it. I can understand you not receiving communion because you're not a Catholic, but is your dp a Catholic? Our mass would be empty if the priest wasn't giving out communion to people who had children and weren't married.

BillSykesDog Mon 28-Mar-16 22:15:47

Can't see the problem. I wouldn't take communion though.

JimmyGreavesMoustache Mon 28-Mar-16 22:17:14

i'm not a believer, but would consider myself culturally Christian
I went to a school where we attended cathedral several time weekly, and developed a love of sacred music and gothic architecture

i still sometimes go to Church (High C of E), mostly for the music. I think the clergy are on to me, but they don't appear to mind smile.

SheDoneAlreadyDoneHadHerses Mon 28-Mar-16 22:21:30


I was baptised in a Pentecostal church about 4years ago and haven't been since their stance on gay marriage and their lukewarm reception of my Catholic boyfriend, but I find great comfort and solace in a church of any denomination.

I find that I can focus on stillness and thoughtfulness and prayer.

I love that so many buildings and monuments were built for the joy of God. It's astounding (good or bad, I suppose!)

I went recently to San Pietro Basilica in Rome and cried buckets at the sheer magnitude and atmosphere. Churches are beautiful serene places and we need time out to reflect.

honeylulu Mon 28-Mar-16 22:29:21

It's a very interesting question and one I have pondered myself.
I was brought up in a practising Christian family. We attended a non denominational church which was semi-evangelical and fairly minimalist in terms of style of worship. I chose to be confirmed in my teens.
I now live some distance away and several years ago started attending our local church (initially just Christmas and Easter) which happened to be a C of E "high church". I absolutely loved all the "bells and smells" style of worship. It made me feel holy just being there if anyone can understand that.
Incongruously, over the years my faith became less fundamental but I still loved the rituals involved.
I was very sad that I could not be married there (husband was divorced and "high churches" usually refuse to marry divorcees) and stopped going so much. A few years later I then lost a baby late in pregnancy. I couldn't make sense of it and lost my faith entirely.
Fast forward another few years and we were lucky enough to have our daughter. I was so happy and grateful to have her that I started praying every day, almost without raising I was doing it, thanking God for the joy that had come back into my life. Before I knew it I was attending church again. Perhaps it was force of habit but I found the familiar rituals calming and comforting. The vicar (not the one who'd refused to marry us) encouraged us to have our daughter baptised - our eldest had already been baptised there as a baby - I was honest about my wavering faith and my husband was honest about his atheism but we were welcomed anyway. On hearing about my wedding disappointment our vicar offered to conduct a short marriage blessing as part if the christening service. This meant so much to me as I finally felt married in the church I am connected to.
I still can't say truly that I believe my faith has returned. I'm not sure. It's still very muddled up in my head. But I do find attending our church an uplifting experience. I can't really explain it. Even my atheist husband comes sometimes (our eldest was recently confirmed and serves as an altar boy) and says he enjoys following the rituals and understands the "feeling holy" thing I've described.
I'm glad we were honest with our vicar as even if nothing changes faith-wise I feel welcome there and my life feels enriched by my attendance and involvement with the church community.
That probably doesn't help at all OP (sorry) but I get where you're coming from (I think).

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