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Losing faith and can't leave church

(69 Posts)
Doublegloucester Tue 26-Jan-16 22:47:39

Hi,

Can anyone help me please? Have nc'ed...
Am losing faith in God but have so much invested in church, not going seems impossible. Am PCC member, involved with a couple of Christian organisations and almost all of my friends come from my church. There is going to be a massive church shaped hole in my life if I stop going, but I don't want to be hypocritical and keep taking communion etc....argh...has anyone else been through this? Thanks.

BackforGood Tue 26-Jan-16 23:38:35

I don't think it's hypocritical to go to Church while you are going through times of uncertainty. Surely we all doubt at times?
If you feel strongly you shouldn't be taking communion, you can still attend and just not take the elements.
The Church (speaking in the wider sense) I know would certainly say it welcomes all, wherever they are on their journey.

Do you have a class or fellowship group that will enable you to delve a bit deeper into your doubts? Or maybe taking part in something like an Alpha Course?

Bolognese Tue 26-Jan-16 23:43:20

Can't you just keep going but not do the communion part and just be a cultural christian? There are a lot of people go to church but dont believe, even a lot of the priests!

You dont have to tell anyone, its none of their business, ignorance is bliss.

Doublegloucester Tue 26-Jan-16 23:49:57

Thanks for replying so quickly Backforgood. Maybe I should just keep going and just not take communion. I guess there's always that concern that other people will notice and wonder why you're not receiving...not that it's any of their business!!

Sadly I don't have any sort of class or group as the church is small. I do have one friend I could talk to there but her faith is sometimes a bit shaky and it wouldn't be fair of me to offload onto her - I don't want to be responsible for damaging her faith, as it's very important to her and she's quite elderly.

It is helping just to get this off my chest on mn though so that's something!

Doublegloucester Wed 27-Jan-16 00:00:42

X-post with Bolognese. Thank you. That is true, I don't have to tell anyone. I think it's just the fear that people will notice and wonder why I'm not taking communion.

Silly, I know but I'm quite noticeable going up as I take a small child up with me. Maybe DH can take her up and I can pop out to the loo or something.
Maybe I've built this up in my mind and it doesn't actually need to be such a big deal.

It's just important to me to be authentic. I wouldn't want to receive communion for example, when my belief in God has almost entirely left me. Rargh. I still want to follow Jesus in terms of all the social gospel stuff though.

lostinmiddlemarch Wed 27-Jan-16 00:07:30

Sorry you're going through this. If your goal is to be authentic, stop caring a rap what others are thinking about you taking/not taking communion.

This is a bit of a leap but I wonder if your faith is suffering because the whole social animal that is church has drowned out your own spiritual encounter? It can happen so gradually. I would also be concerned that your faith is not being nurtured as it should if you have only over friend to talk to about this, and even she couldn't be relied upon to encourage. All this while feeling dependent on a faceless social network. Not how it was meant to be.

I think you possibly have a church problem more than a faith problem, and finding fellowship where you can be real might make your faith feel more real also.

Doublegloucester Wed 27-Jan-16 00:34:36

Thanks, lostinmiddlemarch, I wonder if you're onto something there. I think I need to have a good mull over some of the issues you've raised.

I have thought about moving churches before, it's just that my current church is probably the best 'fit' for my preferred style of service etc given the choices of church in the area and I'm a bit concerned that others would leave me feeling even more malnourished! Still it's never wise to pre-judge these things I guess.

Aphie Wed 27-Jan-16 00:40:56

Can you go up and receive the blessing but not take part in communion? I do this if I'm in a church that isn't my own because I'm weird about shared communion cups. I'm unsure of my own faith too at times but I still find comfort in the routine

Bolognese Wed 27-Jan-16 00:47:17

Can't see anything un-authentic about not taking communion (sorry not catholic so dont completely get why other people seeing you not doing this is a big deal). Maybe you could elucidate?

I dont think going to the loo is a permanent solution.

So it seems you have come to a point in your life where you are a massive part of the church community but dont literally believe in an all powerful benign guy in the sky. You dont seem to want to fake it, but maybe for a while while you deconvert?

There are a lot of 'church like' communities in the country that do great good and would love your support, are you aware of them? I know from experience how a church can ostrich you if you come 'out' but is that really what you want to be part of? Would you want your DC to be part of that?

Maybe start to diversity your time in to other areas so your not so dependent on the church. Ease into it, there is nothing wrong in following the philosophy of Jesus but leaving aside the supernatural aspect.

Fidelia Wed 27-Jan-16 08:18:49

Have you talked confidentially to your vicar? At the rail, most people don't notice who has taken communion and who has had a blessing. And it says a lot for your integrity that you're not wanting to take it lightly. It's ok to struggle. It's ok to question. It's ok to just come along for friendship. It's ok to leave.

Doublegloucester Wed 27-Jan-16 15:04:14

Thank you for all your kind words.

Aphie, I find comfort in the routine too. I would probably prefer to not go up at all than have a blessing though (reasons are a bit personal).

Bolognese, the church is quite small and tight knit - I don't want people to notice I'm not receiving and make a big deal out of it - 'oh, she's not receiving - why's that' type thing. They probably wouldn't, I'm probably over thinking it. Your third para is spot on.
What type of church like communities do you mean? I have started doing some volunteering recently and I'm really happy there, feeling I'm doing something useful for others, regardless of whether God exists.

Fidelia, thank you for reassurance. I needed to hear that :-) I could talk to the Vicar but we are both a bit socially awkward and I'm not sure either of us would know what to say!

headinhands Wed 27-Jan-16 18:52:16

Hi op, have you shared your feelings with your DH?

hairylittlegoblin Wed 27-Jan-16 18:57:56

Hi OP. Sorry to hear you're feeling like this. Sarah Bessey has a new book which I've read some of called 'Out of Sorts' where she talks about feeling burnt out by church and taking a step away (her husband was a minister at the time which made things more tricky). Might be helpful.

But I also think you should be able to attend, not take communion and your congregation to accept that if that's how you feel now.

Doublegloucester Wed 27-Jan-16 21:27:33

headinhands DH knows I'm having probs with church, but haven't discussed my losing belief in God.

Thank you for the recommendation hairylittlegoblin :-)

headinhands Thu 28-Jan-16 07:58:00

Op I'd probably start with talking to my dh. It would help me understand what I was feeling and what I felt needed to change.

headinhands Thu 28-Jan-16 08:00:49

For example if you could talk through with someone why you feel your beliefs have changed it might make it clearer what changes you want to make to your life.

dayslikethis Thu 28-Jan-16 08:09:21

I would also highly recommend Out of Sorts - it's a beautiful story of Sarah's journey through faith and faith communities. She has a blog too which might be helpful. Jamie the very worst missionary would be another blog which you might find helpful.

It's interesting that you say you want the social gospel side of things but not sure you actually believe in God - I think the best thing you can do is really take some time out to seek God - lay your questions before Him, lay your questions before yourself, discuss with your DH, go onto some online forums and blogs for more discussion and really seek those answers - what is it exactly you are doubting - is it the existence of God or is it the idea of God you have been taught? (The theology if you like) Go back to basics and fundamentals (the apostles creed or nicene creed might be good starting point) and really question what you do or don't believe and what you are unsure about, then go from there.

dayslikethis Thu 28-Jan-16 08:12:26

Mike McHargue is also someone maybe worth looking up (also known as Science Mike). He describes himself as a Christian-turned atheist-turned Jesus follower. His story is really incredible and even for a total science-phobe like me, I found it profoundly impactful. (And he taught me lots about how the brain works which totally fascinated me!)

Potterwolfie Thu 28-Jan-16 08:20:22

I don't take communion as I've not been confirmed (was baptised at birth) so my vicar suggested going up as if for communion, but asking for a blessing instead. Maybe you could try that and see how it feels?

Seriouslyffs Thu 28-Jan-16 08:35:53

^ I still want to follow Jesus in terms of all the social gospel stuff though.^
That's good enough. Hang on in there. And do talk to the Rev- he may well be thinking it must be so lovely to just be a church member and not have so much riding on Faith...

Perhaps you have got out of balance. A very wise Christian once told me that there is a balance between doing, being and knowing. It is really easy to get caught up in lots of doing and let the others slip.

It might be worth spending some time thinking and praying on which bit is lacking at the moment and using Lent to redress that a bit. When I got stuck on the being bit which comes down to prayer I found Thomas Green's 'When the Well Runs Dry' and Gerald Hughes 'God in All Things' really helpful. Margaret Silf's 'Wayfaring' was another one that helped me.

I could suggest something in the knowing area but I have to go into meetings. So - philosophy, theology, bible or something else?

gatewalker Thu 28-Jan-16 09:53:18

Are you losing your belief in God, OP.

Or is your belief in God shifting?

BigDorrit Thu 28-Jan-16 10:24:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marvik Thu 28-Jan-16 10:27:23

Sometimes people who find their current church doesn't quite fit with their beliefs, get something out of attending Quaker Meetings for Worship. Although there may not be a Quaker Meeting in your immediate area.

lostinmiddlemarch Thu 28-Jan-16 20:58:58

Faith is not always the kind of thing you can consider from outside a spiritually active life-it's too relational. A bit like seeing if you can work a relationship out by breaking up (which admittedly does work sometimes, but not usually).

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