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Problems with my church

(13 Posts)
Firsttimer7259 Tue 02-Jun-15 09:56:42

Im a new Christian and Im feeling increasingly troubled about my church. In many ways they are a lovely bunch and a great community and Im grateful that this church provided me an entry into Christianity. But..Im uncomfortable with a lot of their interpretations of the Bible. Its often/always (?) the narrowest one and I feel other Christian views are seen as immediately getting relativist and not adhereing to central and requiste tenets for Christianity.
I am only just coming to grips with this, previously the whole thing was so new and so alien to me that I couldnt really engage intellectually with any of it. Until recently I sort of accepted that if this was what I wanted then I had to accept things I didnt much like the sound of otherwise Im not really worshipping God just some sort of universalised version of myself- I felt the pull towards God and Jesus very strongly and faith was just bubbling up in me and I didnt know where to go or what to do with it. (I have an atheist upbringing and while Im v well educated my education is entirely secular).
But now Im starting to question whether some of the beliefs/doctrine of my church are really necessary and the more I read more widely (and I dont really know well how to do that - I find it hard to orient myself within the literature on offer) the more I feel what Im being offered at my church is too narrow.
It feels awful - I want to be part of a church and a church family and now I am having increasing doubts about whether I can genuinely do that were I am now. Its devastating Ive put a lot of time and energy into becoming part of this church and wouldnt really know where else to look. I would like to have conversations about this but find Im a bit scared about what happens if I disagree.

CheeseBored Tue 02-Jun-15 10:08:12

I used to belong to a church similar to what you describe - quite narrow in its interpretation of the Bible, dogmatic thinking, conservative.... I felt very conflicted for a long time. Eventually I found a new church community and was very happy. This new church was much more open to doubt and questions - the sort of thing that wasn't tolerated in my previous church. less hierarchical too. It's very easy to think that God IS the church, but surely if God exists s/he is not defined by such a social and human construct. There is a huge variety of church community out there, so keep searching. If you like I can PM you some pointers?

Firsttimer7259 Tue 02-Jun-15 10:18:41

CheeseBored - Id like that. Im pretty upset at the prospect of potentially leaving but can see that as something I might need to do.

FoxyLoxie Tue 02-Jun-15 10:22:15

Have you ever looked into islam by any chance?

Firsttimer7259 Tue 02-Jun-15 10:26:30

Hi Foxy - given where I grew up I had a lot more exposure to Islam and Hinduism but neither is whats calling me - which is really Jesus as the son of God. Im really trying to find somewhere to deepen my faith in a Christian God and centre worship around that.

worldgonecrazy Tue 02-Jun-15 10:28:43

Have you tried the Unitarians, or one of the Free/Forest Churches. You may find what you are seeking there. You don't have to stick with the first church you go to.

CheeseBored Tue 02-Jun-15 10:29:48

Foxy that's a bit random, considering OP has identified as a Christian! confused

Will PM you OP

TooBusyByHalf Tue 02-Jun-15 10:30:24

One of the pieces of advice I have been given on this board by many people is the importance of finding a church that suits you. There is a huge variety, not only between different denominations but even within the same one. Generally the CoE so far as I can tell allows for a very broad range of views - and certainly there are some very liberal theologians in the CoE.
If I were you I would try out lots if churches - their websites will give you a flavour of the kind of place they might be - and only decide to 'leave' your current one when you've found a new home. The experience of trying out the different ones may help you also with finding your own interpretations and opinions.

FoxyLoxie Tue 02-Jun-15 10:38:20

Yeah I know it's random. I asked because former Christian friends have found their faith within islam after becoming dissatisfied with their church/community and not understanding the 'trinity'/council of Nicea event. It makes for interesting conversation.

I think there is a stage of faith where the clear boundaries and certainties of conservative faith are very attractive. They are good places to start to learn about faith as things are clear cut and certain. If you give any credence to stages of faith theory (and not everyone does) then people will often move beyond this stage of needing certainty and clear boundaries into questioning. At this point they may leave all together or they may start to explore the many aspects of faith that are not conservative.

It sounds as if you are at this stage Firsttimer and what you might want to do is have a look at a book by Keith Ward called 'A Beginners Guide to Christianity' which takes a number of the main themes such as creation and atonement and gives three different takes on them which all lie within mainstream Christianity. This might help you work out whether what is being taught is too narrow and whether finding another place might be a good idea.

Italiangreyhound Tue 02-Jun-15 20:54:28

Firsttimer7259 I am delighted to hear of your new found faith. If I were you I would stay where you are while you explore other churches and see where you feel you fit. Unless you have literally only been there a few weeks.

Then if you feel the Lord is leading you to another place for any reason you can just say, I feel the Lord is leading me to XYZ church. You do not owe them anything in terms of an explanation and in some ways that could end up getting you into a kind of back and forth argument which you may feel ill equipped for, so although honesty is usually a good idea in this case I feel you do not need to feel the need to explain everything to them.

But if in the meantime you find that your feelings settle and you are happy where you are, then of course you can stay put.

Going to new churches is fun but remember none will completely suit you 100% but you may well find one is a better fit. Check out the website and see what they believe/do etc. We ended up a in church that did not have women in authority, totally opposite to my views (I didn't check the website!) but we ended up going there for four years and loved the people. In the end we left for other reasons and we are not in a C of E church. I feel we are in the right place and it feels good. But the other place taught us stuff too.

Don't do any quick moves without first deciding where you may like to go next, IMHO, because that can kind of leave you drifting in the open and that is harder as a Christian. You may like to set yourself some kind of time limit. I will visit 6 churches in two months and see how I feel.

Good luck.

Too is right, the C of E tends to be lovely, and very varied.

And Greenheart has good advice - as always!

Firsttimer7259 Wed 03-Jun-15 07:35:05

Some great advice - thank you everyone. the book is excellent greenheart, I downloaded it yesterday and was really happy to read something that took lots of views into account without being dismissive of any.
I have been at my current church for a few years now and am a member. I love the people but its nagging at me increasingly that we have very different views on social issues (gender equality and sexual orientation in particular) and now Im starting to think that doctrinally I may have very different ideas too. Things are often presented very gently and in a favourable light - its only when I really stop to think and read that I notice I feel/think differently and that possibly no amount of praying will change that I just dont believe the same doctrine - they have a strong line on biblical inerrancy and see atonement as penal substitution only. I realise that I proabbly believe both are more complicated. I have made a plan to visit some other local churches and spend some time in each as well as continue to attend my own church and see whether we make a very slow exit from where I am now.
Now that I feel more resolved that I may need a differnt church and that painful as the leaving process will be it may be for the best in the long term I feel a bit less freaked and more able to consider. before that I think I was reading things and constantly trying to discount my views as wrong because they werent 'in line'. I actually beleive I may grow in faith through opening my eyes and enagging more intellectually with Christian thinking.
Its still scary and a bit sad but feels more ok and altho it will be difficult I will manage this process and that I need to address it step by step. Im sure there wont be an absolute ideal church that just happens to be local but I need to see my way slowly through the options.
A really big thank you again - its lovely to have an online forum like this - I dont really know anyone in RL outside my church that is a christian and I felt I had no one to talk to about this.

Italiangreyhound Thu 04-Jun-15 01:18:35

Firsttimer7259 your town may have a churches together group, or an ecumenical partnership. If your church is as strict as you say they may not be part of it! My old church was not part of our local partnership.

If you town has one, see if there are any ecumenical events and you can get to know some other folks. Also many towns will have certain groups se up that work across the churches so a quick easy way to see how you like folks from other places. They are usually things like

Fair trade groups
Christian groups going into schools - e.g. Open the book
A messy church group run by a number of churches
Street Pastors


You can Google any you like the sound of.

All the best.

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