So many people avoid being part of a Church service because it just makes them feel uncomfortable.
Feelings of anxiety, panic, and being judged are just some of the challenges.
Yet they have a deep desire to be part of a worshipping community. They want to know God and they want to form relationships with others, but barriers and roadblocks exist.
Here are just a few barriers that I have encountered, and perhaps you would like to add a few in the comments section below.
- Past experiences of judgemental teaching – ‘I fear that I am going to be made to feel guilty’
- Clothing – ‘They all dress better than me’
- Concentration – ‘I just can’t concentrate for the length of the service’
- Sermon – ‘It’s too long and words are used that I just don’t understand’
- Habits – ‘I smoke (or drink or…) and they are so perfect, they wouldn’t accept me’
- Anxiety – ‘I can’t sit still, I pace, I will just disturb others and draw attention to myself’
- Money – ‘They are always asking for money and I don’t have any. It makes me feel guilty that I can’t give when the offering plate comes round’
- Relationships – ‘I know people in that Church and they know me, perhaps they will gossip about me’
- God stuff – ‘Does God really love me? I have done some really bad stuff. There is no way any would accept me’
- They don’t understand my illness – ‘They think my illness is all due to some sin in my life, some demons, some lack of will power or faith. Does God think this?’
- Size. ‘Too many people too close, I don’t like being so close to others’
- Hygiene – ‘I can’t afford soap and deodorants so I smell, people won’t like that’
11 ideas that can help
- Change your belief that ‘Church’ is about a time and a place, to Church being a relationship with a few others focused on Christ.
- Find two other people, perhaps like yourself, whom you can trust and form a Christ-focused relationship with. Read the Bible together, pray together and listen to each other.
- Talk to someone in the Church and explain your difficulties and ask if they can help. If the Church can’t then they probably aren’t the type of Church you want to be involved with anyway.
- Have a Church buddy. Someone you can sit with, reassure you, and generally help you out.
- Check the church and it’s teaching etc out via the Internet. Many churches now use social media and have websites and facebook pages etc where you can visit.
- Sit outside in your car and watch people coming and going from the service. What do they wear, do you know anyone, are there people with disabilities, are they generally happy and friendly-looking people or are they the walking dead?
- Enter the service late and leave early. This is a great idea if you are really afraid of meeting people. Some people do this also to avoid loud worship music, so you may not be alone!
- Sit at the back, then you can easily leave or go for a ‘ciggy’ if it all gets too much.
- Sit at the end of the row. Easy escape if needed.
- Ask for a copy of the sermon notes so you can read them later. The preacher may be surprised at just how popular this would be, or not!
- Ask someone what the big words mean. They may not know either, and that might be the preacher we are talking about here!
Photo Credit: meg’s my name via Compfight c