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Feeling Alone in Church

We moved to Tennessee three years ago and started attending a local church. The people are sweet. kind, and loving. But after three years I still feel like I don’t really know anyone.

I taught Sunday school, children’s church, VBS, camp, etc. I got to know some of the other workers but …I still felt alone. Church should be family.

When I mentioned this on Facebook I got a LOT of responses and many private emails of others who feel exactly the same way.

How many feel alone in church? I was sent links to these video trailers. It’s a real eye-opener.

Church Outside the Walls

For the full video go to http://cotwvideo.com/

Related Podcast

Is This What Jesus had in Mind?

How can meeting two to three times a week with five hundred people make me feel  alone, disconnected, and disjointed?

I have fellowship with God and with wonderful friends all over the USA and elsewhere. Just not in this church.

Jesus is the vine we need to abide in. Maybe too many of us try to abide in fellowship??

I’d love to hear your comments.

Comments (57)

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  1. 1
    Cindy says:

    Robin,

    We’ve felt this same way off and on in our “institutional church” experience.

    About 4 years ago now we had the desire to move toward a more “family-integrated” worship experience, but we did not have any FICs nearby. The Lord led us to a home fellowship of about a half-dozen families, which was an amazing time of growth for us. One of the many things we realized was how sterile our church experience had been.

    Even so, the families in that particular fellowship were geographically distant from one another and we knew it “could be better.” When we moved half-way across the US we settled into another home fellowship…same problem.

    Finally, through time and prayer… My husband went out bike riding with our boys every Saturday in our small town, meeting and talking with people, and ended up leading one of our neighbors and his son to the Lord. I happened to meet a man through a local lunch program who then connected with my husband, and I with his wife. They were in a place of transition and after having dinner at our home and meeting with our fellowship group, they felt led to continue down that path.

    After a time, we transitioned out of the “long-distance” fellowship and now meet with just a handful of people in our home each week…all local to one another and able to truly “do life together.” We talk, email, and connect regularly throughout the week, help each other with projects, look for ways to serve others, and–yes–fellowship on Sunday with a full communion meal.

    In this environment, there is so much mutual edification as well as accountability…the meeting is interactive and Spirit-led…I don’t think we could go back to what we were doing before. :)

    Wouldn’t have it any other way.
    .-= Cindy´s last blog ..Triple Snood =-.

  2. 2
    Deb says:

    Amazing post. Guess I’ll join the ranks of feeling the same way. I even started a ‘secret’ blog once to voice it all…but I didn’t want my fellow members to know what I was thinking! Dumb, I know-but it just seems that church the way we know it misses what Jesus intended. Thanks for sharing.
    ps-I live in TN, too-can you email me where you’re at?
    .-= Deb´s last blog ..The Beginner’s Guide To The Blogger’s Universe =-.

  3. 3
    Julie says:

    I think you are right on track.
    And I’m delighted to see you post about this.

    My hubby and I were strongly committed to our church for 20+ years. But my hubby was convinced we had to leave and pursue a ‘home church’ – either find one or create one. It’s been 3.5 years now, and we just aren’t ‘church-ing’ at all. It took me a good year or so to get over not going to church. But it didn’t take me that long to figure out that I was much more dependent upon the socializing I got (including the strokes to my pride when others noticed how ‘together’ my family and I appeared). It sure showed us who our true friends and Christian family were – those who maintained a relationship with us despite our leaving the church.

    Sometimes I miss the ‘corporate worship’. Sometimes I miss the other fellowship opportunities that were abundant in our large church. However, I am thankful God has led us out for now. Now, when I look for people to worship and honor God with, I know they are committed and not just putting on airs.

    I am thrilled to see God really moving on the hearts of His people to change the whole ‘church’ atmosphere. It’s time for people to truly follow Him alone – regardless of who else follows.

  4. 4
    Misty says:

    Wow, Robin. I can so relate. I’m sure I’m going to catch a lot of flack for saying this, but…I do not believe that the church model in western culture that we have today is anything even CLOSE to what Jesus meant it to be.

    For the first Few hundred years or so of “Christianity” the Church thrived and was known by their love. They lived in true community with one another, serving and loving each other. In spite of the constant threat of persecution, many losing their lives for their devotion to Christ, the Church grew by leaps and bounds- true followers that had counted the cost. Then came Constantine, the dark ages, crusades…

    We had a few hundred years of things working God’s way…and 1700 or so years of man’s traditions that have little or nothing to do with going and making disciples of all men. We put on a nice music show, many times complete with the color-coordinated outfits and nice choreography, and everyone is told when to clap, when to raise their hands.

    The “senior pastor” gives a feel-good and “relevant” message that was assigned months in advance by the head church 1500 miles away from where the service is taking place, by people who have no clue what is going on spiritually in any of their churches spread across the country. Makes it a bit difficult for the Holy Spirit to do anything truly awesome when it is all choreographed and scripted down to the minute.

    And how do you really get to know anyone when you’ve got hundreds or even thousands of people at one of the 4 weekend services and you never sit near the same people two weeks in a row. And why we segregate the age groups

    I do NOT understand…it goes so far as to have a request in the bulletin that young children (5 and under) be kept out of the sanctuary. Um…does anyone remember the whole “let the little children come unto Me” bit?

    Then you’ve got the burned out childcare workers that service after service, week after week, babysit dozens and dozens of kids and never get to attend service themselves to be fed and renewed. To me it makes no sense. I am encouraged to tithe and give and give…so we can add another youth wing that will be empty once the novelty wears off, or to add another 3 family members of the pastor to the paid staff-we’ll plug’em in somewhere…and encouraged to give give give money to the church to “do God’s work” with rather than getting in the trenches myself because “the church has connections to make your dollar go further.”

    I have been treated with more love, kindness and respect by people who are “un-churched” and have close friends who are really seeking the TRUTH and coming away from the “church” feeling judged, hated and condemned.

    I have been more judged, condemned and gossiped about by my “church family” because I chose not to try to pry my way into the church clique I like to call the “holy huddle”.

    Please please please hear me when I say I do not mean to offend…I just feel so strongly that this….what we call “church” in western culture today…is NOT what Jesus meant when he referred to His Church…

    I am so desperate to find a small group of Jesus lovers that my family can truly live in community with.

    Thank you for your post Robin. It has reminded me to continually PRAY for this, and also made me wonder if He isn’t maybe raising up a generation that will no longer be content to “do church” but rise up and BE the Church he is calling us to be. God bless, and please don’t ban me from THL if I’ve stepped on some toes….I am so blessed by ALL the amazing ladies here, and appreciate the opportunity to voice my opinion.

    In HIM,

  5. 5
    Kristi says:

    ((((hugs))))) Robin!! I know how you feel. I’m burnt out on our church, too, for different reasons than you are, but still… My DH is away until mid-July, and so I’m kind of taking a church break for the summer. Could you possibly take a break, maybe visit some other churches. (I know for us that isn’t an option, but maybe it would work for you?) Praying for you! ♥

  6. 6
    Inglesidemom says:

    Robin,

    I am so sorry that you feel this way. There are times that I feel the same. Everyone gets burned out and everyone at times feels like they are just not clicking with their church family. May I encourage you to press on?

    Give your pastor the wonderful honor of praying with you and helping you make this decision. So many times, they are the last ones to know – and usually at the last minute, being left to scramble to fill holes that are left.

    You might even need to simply step back from being involved in some of the ministries you mentioned and focus on just one that will allow you to develop friendships on a deeper level.

    I pray that you will be encouraged and receive the Lord’s direction in this area of your life.

    Blessings,
    Jen

  7. 7
    Cheryl says:

    I feel the same way and I am also taking a “church” break. However, I have found a wonderful ladies bible study that meets once a week. That has been a HUGE blessing. It just so happens it’s led by one church, but ladies from several community churches attend. That may be worth looking into. Just call the churches in your area and see what they offer. It’s blessed me in ways a church service hasn’t in many, many years.

    **Also note, that because of this, I make sure to have a bible study with my children as well. They still need to be “fed” as we are deciding what to do about a church.**

  8. 8
    Q says:

    I hear you. We’re in between churches at the moment, and have just taken a lovely 2 week break before starting the search. SO hard to find everything we want in one location ~ reformed, not segregated, truly conservative-not just faking it.

    Can’t wait until Heaven where the perfect church awaits us all!

  9. 9
    Jeni says:

    Maybe that’s what I am feeling. I am just really less then trilled right now and I usually really love going to church. I taught Sunday school this year and it wasn’t the best experience. I just finished my last day on Sunday and I am so happy to be done. I think for me, it’s that this year is drastically different then others. This is the first year I was actively involved, my kid was old enough to be part of the activities and I didn’t get a chance to “take” time off. I missed a lot of things because of how busy we were. I am not one that believes you have to go to church every Sunday in order to be a good person. It is about fellowship and when you don’t feel that connection, it makes attending hard.

  10. 10

    Robin,

    Your letter concerned me greatly. As both a Pastor and a Pastor’s wife, how you feel regarding your church is not uncommon in the U.S. and truly not what the Lord intended for His people.

    If I may, I’d like to speak a few things to you and hopefully offer some wise counsel. First of all, church is meant to be family and not disposable. With that said, if you have sought the Lord regarding leaving this church and seeking elsewhere, then I would highly encourage you to have a discussion with the Sr. Pastor and express your concerns and needs. If you aren’t feeling connected chances are you’re not the only one and a problem can’t be addressed and changes made if they’re unknown. If you haven’t sought the Lord, do so earnestly before making that move. You may miss out on learning what the Lord has put in place just for you.

    Secondly, are you interceding for your church? As Christians our responsibility is to pray for those in spiritual authority over us. If you want change in your church start by getting on your knees and pray for change and pray for those in leadership. As a family, we are to support one another and that is by far the most effective tool we have available. My Mother, who lives in another state, was unsatisfied with her church. She sought the Lord and He told her stay and pray. Little did she know others were interceding as well. She was praying for their pastors to hear the Lord’s voice more clearly. Although it did not happen overnight, her church is starting to change. The people are becoming more of the family they were meant to be, ministry is being truly effective and people are turning their hearts to the Lord, not just their time. The people went from merely saying hello to one another to hugging and embracing each other. Prayer truly changes things.

    Third, did the Lord instruct you to become so involved in so many ministries within your church? Focusing on giving instead of getting is wonderful and is Christian service, but we are to do those things that the Lord would have for us to do. Now, I have felt the same way you do within my church. The fellowship with the other ladies just couldn’t be built over coffee after service on Sunday. All of the ministries you’re involved in I do as well and I have developed great relationships with kids, not adults. Now, I wasn’t the only one feeling this way and so some of us ladies decided to start going out for dinner and shopping once every few months. Those outing would easily last 4 hours. You’ve never heard so much gabbing! But, the more we continued to meet the more we would get to know each other. We support each other in prayer, inquire about specific issues when we see each other and now truly love one another. Those outings grew into a Bible study and others joining in are received with open arms and tons of love. Friendship take time and commitment, which in our busy lives with kids can make it extremely difficult, but they are truly worth the work. Pray that the Lord brings the perfect friend(s) to you. But, above all, don’t give up and keep seeking the Lord and His wise counsel.

    I’m sorry if this was too long and a little preachy, but I am a Pastor after all. You will be in my prayers and I know that the Lord who created everything and knows you perfectly and has a perfect plan for your life hears your prayers and loves you deeply. Be blessed!

  11. 11

    Why do we assume fellowship and assembling together requires a physical location? I have daily fellowship with friends and pastors around the globe! A large body gathers for worship & bible study every evening via live video streaming and skype.

    (Comment from Facebook)

  12. 12

    I believe this is a spiritual (not fleshly) desire to want real, intimate fellowship w/other believers who live close enough to “be there” in the practical ways that we internet friends can’t be (unfortunately). It can happen for you in TN & I’m praying He will direct your steps in this area & bring people into your life who have a similar heart
    In the meantime, if you’re ever in (or passing thru) J-ville, you know the invitation (and guest room:) is open.:o) We meet on Sat. nights for a meal/fellowship/worship/interactive Bible study (w/roving mic…lol).

    (Comment from Facebook)

  13. 13

    WOW, this post has been very encouraging and thought provoking. I really do understand, I have been down that same road in the past.

    Also, I think of you ,Robin, as a super Mom of sorts who has everything all together, it actually made me feel good to hear about your struggles (I hope that doesn’t sound mean?)

    On a unrelated topic, and I know you can’t answer every note here, did you also go through health issues with your heart?? I memory is bad but I thought it was you I read about. I just had a heart attack 3 months ago, a week after my baby was born, at age 42. Its scary stuff and not many “younger” ladies to talk to about it all, I am an oddball (once again in my life! lol) Well that’s enough for now,lol.

    (Comment from Facebook)

  14. 14

    Organized church can be like having to sit through the same class over and over again but never graduating! You know the Lord (you have helped show him to me!).

    You have a relationship with Him! He has put you in fellowship with other believers outside of those four walls. What more do you need? (Maybe a re-read of some of Wayne Jacobson’s wonderful books will help you to feel better?) ♥

    (Comment from Facebook)

  15. 15

    The Church today has so strayed from what God intended! You are not alone Robin, and it is so good to see that neither am I!!!! (Comment from Facebook)

  16. 16
    Anonymous says:

    I felt that way at my last church. I needed more Bible study and fellowship than they had to offer. We changed churches last winter and I no longer feel alone. There is a core group of folks who attend the Wednesday night Bible study (about 30) and a smaller group that studies on Sunday nights. I love being able to hear their experiences with God and to share mine.

    In my last church, people grew uncomfortable if you talked about God like He was real. They snickered behind the backs of people like me. It was so disappointing. People in the new one are not perfect, but they do have a vibrant fellowship!

  17. 17

    wait…do you go to my church? I feel the same way….

    (Comment from Facebook)

  18. 18

    Fellowship is the Father’s heart. He is all about relationships and I know what you are saying Robin.

    (Comment from Facebook)

  19. 19
    Jess Gunning says:

    I think a church should be a family, too… because… that’s EXACTLY what Christ called us to be. He didn’t tell us to connect once a week and listen to someone’s views on Scripture… He called us to eat together, walk together, pray together, study the Word together, sit and mourn with one another, rejoice with one another… He called us to … See Morelive our lives together, serving, sharing, loving, supporting.
    THAT is church. And, it can be found within a set place… I have found it. However, that’s rare, unfortunately.

    I am thankful that through some of the most devastating times in my life over the last year, my God-family was there for me, and it breaks my heart that you don’t have that sense of family within your local body of believers.

    Robin, I am praying for you and with you!(Comment from Facebook)

  20. 20
    Tami Lewis says:

    i can’t stomach organized church! i always start with high hopes but lose them quickly :(

    (Comment from Facebook)

  21. 21

    No, you are far from alone…I have fallen face down many times in tears, out of frustration. Feeling like doesn’t anyone see. Why are so many content with the fluff, where is Jesus. Just praying for God to move, and open the eyes of his people.

  22. 22
    Kristi says:

    Very interesting trailers, Robin! Thanks so much for sharing! I think I’m going to have to go check this documentary out…

  23. 23
    Terri Layne says:

    Robin,
    My heart goes out to you! We spent five miserable years in a church in Illinois which was very inward-seeking. Many new people would stick it out and actually leave the sanctuary crying every Sunday because no one had engaged them or spoken to them. After we were there for a very long time, we got to know some people and they were Godly, wonderful people! But, they had forgotten the command in Hebrews to entertain strangers, and instead were involved in many “good works”, in a sincere manner.

    It was so difficult! I will never attend a church again where only the mayor of the town decides to say hello! (That sounds like a joke, but it’s what happened the first Sunday we visited. That should have spoken volumes to us!

    We attended another church here in which the pastoral staff was wonderful and welcoming, but we found it difficult to connect with others. As I look back, I realize part of it was me-I am normally very outgoing, but my father was very ill (dying) and I was sick in a way from that so I could not reach out. My husband is quite an introvert so the combination results in us taking a long time to feel comfortable in a new church and get to know others.

    I believe it might be best to search your heart. I know you have had a lot of illness. At the same time you were serving!! But, did you allow anyone to serve you? Did your SS class offer meals or anything? Or, did you even have an SS class, since you were teaching all the time? You were one of the worker bees who tend to become invisible, and also who tend to seem to have no needs of their own. Were you in any kind of small group? It’s so easy to feel disconnected, but I think it is can be just as much us as them.

    I just started working in our church’s welcome coffee. I expected it to be a rotation, but I am scheduled in there every Sunday, meaning I have to rush to the coffee, can’t even talk to those around me after church, and I am missing my dear friends who I used to connect with all the time. I am feeling quite disconnected! (Which reminds me, I need to talk to the dude in charge and tell him I need a rotation :-)

    SS is where I got to know people, through prayer requests, discussion of the sermon, etc. If you don’t have that, in a large church, you are going to disappear, especially as a worker bee.

    I admire your desire to serve, but how about just resting in the Lord and joining a class or small group?

    I also think that home schooling by its nature can be isolating and difficult. Are you in a support group? I don’t mean your daughter’s co-op. Methinks on those days you don’t meet with others, but you get things done around the house and in your business. What about being intentional about inviting some other kindred spirit to come over for lunch or meet with you downtown or something. ( I would if I lived nearby!!! :-)

    God bless you, Robin! You have been such a blessing to me! Please don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. You are needed, but maybe not in the way you think. Maybe not as a worker bee, but (merely) a seeker of the Lord who can be ministered to and minister to others just by being a friend.

    Love in Him,
    Terri

  24. 24
    Michelle says:

    Just a sidenote, are you saying you are a pastor, and is that scriptrual? I grew up with male pastors and this is the second time in a week I heard of a woman pastor. If this is common, please forgive my ignorance.

    Please explain this to me. thank you

  25. 25

    Robin, I have done the same thing! After a couple of years of trying to connect with the other women in my church, but always feeling it wasn’t a true connnection.

    Something is missing horrible, I decided to pour my heart into the children, (which was God lead). It is something I trully enjoy. However I feel I am missing the family part. I thought maybe it is me, I have decided it is not. I have made the attempts but

    I am not a clickish person so there for I do not click. After talking to one of our pastor’s wife, and she said similar things I felt relieved and took her advice. I found a group of women I have connected with and I feel comfortable and welcomed. It makes a world of difference even if doesn’t come from our home church.

    I also feel I can not quit volunteering where I volunteer, b/c God has placed me there for this season, my heart breaks and loves these kids. I enjoy being in Gods word with them and being a little light during their week full of the world.

  26. 26
    gidg says:

    The response to this is amazing! I keep thinking I am the only one who feels this way…and maybe to some extent I am the only one in my small area. But I DO know people who I KNOW are strong Christians who have dropped out of church. It really has not effected their relationship with God (except maybe to strengthen it).

    My family has been looking for a church for almost a YEAR now, but haven’t been able to find anything. It seems as if the preaching is shallow and watered down, or the music is. One church we attended took the verse “Sing a new song to the Lord” so literally that they rarely sang anything that was more than a few years old. (I am a music person, and love some of the old hymns as well as the new choruses, but couldn’t understand why the old songs were ‘bad’ just because they were old.)

    I found myself (and still find myself) needing to ‘fit into a mold’ just to make friends at church, but finding that I really don’t fit the mold no matter how hard I try. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me, but realize that in order to follow God and His will for my life, I will not be like anyone else or like what they want me to be. As lonely as I feel at times, I just can’t be someone I’m not just to feel accepted…because it won’t last. The Church should not be a country club where the few “pretty people” are the core group that fellowships and serves together… and invites others to join them only when it benefits them. (I understand that not all churches are like this, but EVERY CHURCH I have attended on a long-term basis has this characteristic…and I was NEVER part of the core no matter how much I got involved.) The Church needs to extend outside the walls of the church and get dirty getting into others lives as the Lord leads.

    Robin, THANK YOU for writing this post!!! I honestly have been blessed by both what you shared…AND by all the comments I’ve read so far. This is an issue that affects so many people…but one that not very many of us feel comfortable talking about…especially to our church family. Be Blessed!! :-)
    .-= gidg´s last blog ..Passover/Pesach Notebook pages =-.

  27. 27
    preacher's wife says:

    You are not alone in your lonliness, and it’s not uncommon for all of us including leadership to feel this way. I have had to deal with my own isolation in our congregations throughout the years but continue to reach out to often find my hand bitten or recoiled against. Being a homeschooler and pastor family breeds new problems than whenever we were attending and participating. Something about the pastor role than changes US in the mind of all around us…wonder WHAT that is?? Oh I know it’s the expectations of the roles given but it can be isolating. I could tell story after story of hurts and well intened fauxpas by ppl attempting to “LOVE ME.” If God moves, then MOVE, but if not, dig down and serve Him looking UP for His ultimate fellowship~it’s about HIM anyway and God fixes the rest. Hugs to you on this journey…

  28. 28
    Another lonely one says:

    Its strangely comforting to discover that there are others who have similar unhappy experiences. I am still attending services within a church building every Sunday (as I have for over 50 years now– in several different churches as my geographical location has changed), because it seems like the thing to do; it has very little to do with my personal spiritual encouragement or enrichment, however. I do not feel particularly welcomed or loved there, except by a few. I am thankful for these :) Over the years I have poured much time and energy into various service roles within the church, including children’s and teen Sunday School teacher, Superintendant, board member and ladies’ Bible study leader. But I got burnt out. Now I limit my service to little things, like helping with snacks and occasional janitorial work.
    For now, I am concentrating on deepening my relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, and seeking to put His Word into action in my life, while enjoying times of heart to heart fellowship with the handful of close loving Christian friends God has blessed me with.

    I think most people would agree (?) that we were not designed to have the same sense of intimacy with everyone in our local churches; however, its one thing to feel connected in the love of God at a heart level–even with people one has hardly met, and feeling disconnected, judged, and “less than” others whom we hardly know, though we see them weekly, and might even receive a perfunctory hug from them at the church doors.
    I think a lot of church-going people hide behind masks, because it doesn’t feel safe to be real. And masks create distance. Until the church starts demonstrating the love of God in daily actions, and don’t just talk about it from the pulpit, or belive in it in theory, there’s no life-giving spirit in it and people will continue leaving it in droves. We are all hungry for relationships, but so many of us enter a church looking for love but are wounded, and unable to give it to all the others there in the same condition… and so the arms-length relationships and the hurts go on and on.
    Relationships require time. I wonder if we are all so busy keeping the machinery of the church and all its programs running, that we don’t have time to focus on doing things that will build and deepen friendships.

    Sometimes I think if we all spent more time engaged in personal Bible study (not to gain information and head knowledge, but intimate knowledge of our Creator and His ways, and in private worship and prayer, allowing God to minister to us as only He can do, we would be more spirutally and emotionally healthy, and therefore better prepared to build real, love-based relationships, both within and without the church walls? The deeper and fuller we experience God’s healing, cleansing love in our own hearts and lives, the more we can share it with others. And everyone around us is needing what we have been given, for we’ve been given it (Him!) to share. :)

    Sorry this got lengthy!

  29. 29
    admin says:

    Well said!

    “I think a lot of church-going people hide behind masks, because it doesn’t feel safe to be real. And masks create distance. Until the church starts demonstrating the love of God in daily actions, and don’t just talk about it from the pulpit, or belive in it in theory, there’s no life-giving spirit in it and people will continue leaving it in droves. We are all hungry for relationships, but so many of us enter a church looking for love but are wounded, and unable to give it to all the others there in the same condition… and so the arms-length relationships and the hurts go on and on….

    …if we all spent more time engaged in personal Bible study (not to gain information and head knowledge, but intimate knowledge of our Creator and His ways, and in private worship and prayer, allowing God to minister to us as only He can do, we would be more spiritually and emotionally healthy, and therefore better prepared to build real, love-based relationships, both within and without the church walls”

    Have you heard of Trufaced? They make the same excellent points. http://www.truefaced.com/blog/media/

  30. 30
    Another lonely one says:

    Thank you, and thanks for the link to TrueFaced. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I’m downloading the message now :) Please excuse all the typos in my earlier post!

  31. 31
    Spitfire says:

    Robin, you’re not alone Sweetie. There’s many of us that don’t feel we ‘fit in’. Is it hard? You betcha! But perhaps that’s part of being ‘called out’ to be ‘a chosen people’. YHVH will call some to be different from others so He can use us to draw others to Him. It’s not easy, sometimes not fun, and often lonely. But is it worth it? You betcha!!!! Just think of how many women you’ve helped over the years on just this blog! And how many have you lead to a deeper, closer relationship with YHVH? Oh, my dear, your example alone has blessed SO many women. You are not alone, Dear one. Many of us feel alone, but also many of us identify with you. We want to be more like you….with all your warts, you’re still an excellent and mighty woman of Yah! And while my heart cries with you in your loneliness, it rejoices at how many women you’ve influenced for Him.(And that doesn’t even begin to count the kids you’ve lead to Him in your teachings at church!!!!) I’m positive with no doubt that YHVH’s smiling on you and proud of all you’ve done in His service. I’ll continue to pray for you and hope He’ll send you at least a couple of women to come alongside you and support you.I’ll also continue to thank Yah for you and the blessing you are! Shalom.
    .-= Spitfire´s last blog ..Harvest time. =-.

  32. 32
    Charissa says:

    Robyn,

    your blog has been a huge blessing to me. Thank you so much for it.

    I remember once when I was young and really lonely, that my mom told me to look for the other people who are lonely or cast-offs. Often I wanted the people I looked up to to minister to me. Instead I had to look at going to church as an actual ministry where I gave emotionally and spiritually to others.

    There are so many hurting people in the world today. I really think that as we look for others who are hurting and try to bless them, we ourselves are blessed. And very unexpected relationships occur.

    On another note, I do believe that we all need to be ministered to as well by people that we look up to.

    So, I think it is a two sided coin. I think we need to be sure that we are somewhere where we are being helped in our growth as Christians, but we also need to be sure that we are giving out to those who are in need, even if it is emotional needs rather than physical. And there are many hurting people in the church, so it is a great place to do so.

    This has been my experience at least.

    God bless you!

  33. 33
    floridahomey says:

    I have been subscribed to Robin’s blog for a long time.I have never made any comments , but I followed her problems with her health and and being hospitalized.

    I am always happy to open a heart of wisdom, as it assure’s me your doing well, Robin.I have to admit ,I don’t always click onto your site.
    Feeling alone in church,( I never, ever thought there were so many who feel that way)I have been ,( joined)almost 5yrs. in a Fundamental Baptist Church. Very friendly, when we’re told, everyone get up and shake hands . After that, no one seems to have that beautiful, spiritual,joyous, on fire in the spirit for God.
    I have cried so many times and laid awake at night sick at heart and getting to be a very bad mental problem, because I had begun to think maybe I’m not saved is why I felt alone. but I knew better than that, because my mind is filled up every waking hour on our precious savior. I know and love him with all my being. He has blessed my husband and I through out ours lives. I am still thinking of changing churches, but we have a wonderful pastor and he has a wonderful wife and children.
    There a few who have stood by me the whole time or I most likely would have moved on.
    My husabnd as of yet, has not attended with me, but he has been such an encouragment to me, to stay put. He believes and loves the Lord, but feels at home with the lord in our home. I’m praying one day he will attend with me. I have so much more I could say on this, but maybe another time.I am a guiet person , more one on one, until I get to know someone. I have found it so amazing how God works through via internet or e- mails. Just writing to you all, I feel such a loving connection and feel God has his hand on me and my writing. You all seem to have a great connection. I would like to share in that with you all.

  34. 34
    Melissa says:

    I understand how it is to feel that way. We spent several years in a church where we always felt disconnected. We sought the Lord’s guidance and felt that He was leading us to find another church home. The second one we tried was a perfect fit: it IS a family.

    I know the same answer isn’t right for everyone. But I trust that God will lead us to the right places if we let Him.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Bring the Rain =-.

  35. 35
    Susan says:

    I’ve never posted to a blog before, but I agreed about feeling lonely in church. I’ve always been active serving the Lord in church but I never truly make Christian friends at church. I have friends who are believers but they are always people that I don’t go to church with! Can I put a dime in the parking meter. (that means go on a rabbit trail)? One of my frustations in church is the fact that I’m a woman in a man’s church. I feel so limited in how I can serve God. The only door ever open to me is teaching preschool. I love little kids but it’s not my speciality. But, anytime I open my mouth to volunteer, I’m always reminded that I can’t do it because I’m a woman. It seems the only thing I’m allowed to do in church is work in the nursery, teach little kids, and sing in the choir. What does a woman do when she feels so limited in church?

  36. 36
    Diane says:

    Wow Robin!

    This is the type of topic that can be quite controversial. Some it will resonate with it and some it will cause alarms to go off. And then there are some who honestly feel that God is much bigger than the 4 walls of a building and will cause His family to fellowship over coffee, through the internet, or even just solely with Him for a time. That is the God I am discovering over the last 5 years.

    May God bless you on your particular journey, Robin!

  37. 37
    Nicoel Mayo says:

    Hi Robyn,

    My husband and I along with our 3 children have experienced this as well. And we struggled to “find” the fellowship that is described in the Word. We did FIC, and the specific one we attended was, well, frankly, very ‘strict’. An unspoken dress code, rules, etc. They followed rules, but I wouldn’t say love and prayer were on the forefront for this particular group. If it was, it wasn’t apparent to us. We have homechurched as well. We had positive results there and developed closer relationships with other Christians than anywhere else. But my heart struggled as there were discussions about how horrible institutionalized church is. I wondered if that made it okay to say those things about brothers and sisters in Christ. However we follow the Lord, we are still to treat one another and love one another as one body. As stated by another christian, “Who am I do be rude to another that Christ has invited to the banquet table.” That hit home with me.
    I think right now as Christians we are in a difficult time. We are all tested and tried and in the church age of Philadelphia and Laodicea God had specific warnings, instructions, and does lay claims to those who overcome these things. In the letter to Philadelphia he says, I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it;* for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
    I like to point out how he said this church has little strenght, but keeps His Word.

    Whatever situation we are in, we are urged by Christ to be overcomers, keep his Word, and not deny His name. I find it more difficult to reflect Christ facing these challenges, but that is the time God has placed us in.

    I believe if we follow God’s Word, and overcome, and bring all the burdens of overcoming and lay them at His feet, He will strengthen us to love and be filled with Him.

    Mat 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

    Matthew 6:3-14, and ‘the other 7 epistles’, by Christ Himself (the seven letters to the seven churches are a good read) :) Rev. Chapter 1,2,3

    It helps me to keep perspective knowing that where we are in prophecy where we are suppose to be, and this church age is no surprise to our king, because He wrote it down for us to know it would be.

    So, I encourage you to keep strong, wherever you are fellowshipping, and to reflect Christ even when it is not recieved back knowing that you are doing the will of God.

    I think you can find answers satisfying enough in the Word, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult. Through these trials your faith is growing.

    Here is an article I enjoyed on the difference between faith and feelings. http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/218/print/

    It is by Nancy Missler. Faith is trusting in God’s Love even when we’ve been stripped of reputation, comfort, family, position, finances and even our last ounce of understanding. Faith is getting to the place where we can vow and mean, “[let] none of these things move me,” even when that means letting go of all that we hold dear. (Acts 20:24) I think sometimes the things we hold dear are our expectations of others, the church, etc.

    Grace and Peace to you. Stay strong in His Word running the race that is set before you that you may obtain your crown! The Lord bless you and keep you. The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.

    Nicole

  38. 38
    Cher says:

    Robin- Thank you for adding this post.

    A few years ago, I (literally) began to cry during worship service,this continued for sometime!
    Through prayer G-d revealed to me that our congregation had grown in numbers, but had become ritualistic & politically correct-leaving a since of emptiness.
    Weekly, there are reminders of not meeting “The Budget” for activities, missions & staff.
    Meeting the needs of NEW attendees seems to be a focal point.
    This has been a very humbling experience for our whole family.
    G-d has graciously provided us with several opportunities to visit other means of worship with various member size, & in a variety of settings.
    We are not resentful for the direction of the church, but will continue to pray for the leadership & followers, while letting HIM lead our family in the direction, both spiritually & physically, that HE would have us go.

    Blessings,
    Cher

  39. 39
    Arielle says:

    So… how did we get here? Better yet… how do we crawl out of this pit? I agree that prayer is needed for all our churches for it is God that pulls us out of the pits, but I also want to know what to actually DO NEXT?

    I lead the Women’s Ministry at our local church (I’m barely one month in) and know that there are many unconnected women and families at our church. There are many hurting women out there. How do we get to their hearts?

    I am pretty transparent, but I cannot meet individually with everyone. So… how as a ministry do we reach out?! What is even realistic? What does Acts 2.42 look like in today’s world- specifically for women?

  40. 40
    tienke says:

    Hi Robin,

    Just the same kind of experience here. Lately I wondered maybe it has something to do with the ‘anti-family’ ideas in the world that have come into church too. The church often encouraged us to leave our very small children for the sake of the service to the church. There was a time my hb who was away from home from 6.00pm till 6.00 am for his job was ‘working’ in the church for 3-4 nights a week and still was asked to do more in church and not to be distracted from the work of the Lord by his family. I am very happy we are not attending any church now. We found far more connection with the Body of Christ in very different ways and very different people from very different backgrounds. We lost our inside-minded, exclusive attitude. I am so happy my hb is pouring out his life in teaching his own children the ways of the Lord, instead of being to busy with the churches youthwork to have time left for them. In the meanwhile he’s playing soccer with the neighbourhoodkids (and his own) and makes a better youthworker then ever:)
    The last two years God teaches us so much about parenthood and the important place of the family, that it draws us to His heart in a way no theology or program ever did.
    The church tries to be a family, while most people don’t have sound families themselves. I mean they’re not very connected, the family members are not home a lot because of work and school, they do not have a vision for being a family. I believe the family is a very central part in worshipping God, teaching Christ etc. All these individualists together, who don’t know what family is, cannot live a family-like life in church as well probably… Could that be (a big) part of the loneliness problem?

  41. 41
    Rene says:

    Robin,

    I think it is great that you got this discussion started.

    When I was first saved, I attended the church my family had attended for years. The pastor there was truly spirit-filled and it was awesome to listen to him and know that the Lord was actually using this precious man to speak to us. I hated for the sermons to end. But then… the congregation would be dismissed and everyone would start filing out, talking about what their dinner plans, laughing about yawning during the service and having to try hard to stay awake, and discussing dozens of other things, while I was still trying to pick my chin up from my chest because I had just heard from the Creator of the Universe.

    And, even though these people were kind in very many ways, the gossip was rife. And the endless “activities” certainly never culminated in any intimacy that I could see. In short, I found that attending church services seemed to interfere with my relationship with God.

    So, I visited other churches. But the same thing prevailed. When I would try to talk to some of the members about my feelings, I got blank stares. In short, I got the message that church attendance and all the associated “activities” were requirements of the faithful, and you were supposed to spend a lot of time in this frantic attendance to duty, but that was IT. There wasn’t really any such thing as becoming a more loving person in the Lord, and spiritual maturity wasn’t really a goal.

    I didn’t get it. And sometimes I’d think I was being overly critical, or expecting too much, but then I’d search the Scriptures, and there it was, as plain as day ..the description of first century Christians as a joyful people, happy to be learning more and more about their Savior and Creator, and striving to be a community of loving believers.

    It was through my own study that I came to a beginning understanding of my Hebrew roots.

    But it’s lonely. And as a single mother of a twelve year old son, sometimes my desperation for fellowship is almost overwhelming.

    Thank you again for opening this discussion. I’ll be looking forward to reading more comments.

  42. 42
    Maria says:

    Lonely? I’m not sure how to express just how I have been feeling. Perhaps empty? Sad?
    Living in a small town, I do not have many church choices. I belong to an Evangelical church. We went some time without any leaders and let me tell you we still had church. Now with nice leaders, things aren’t the same. I know God is there, but you don’t see the evidence of the Holy Spirit as we did before. I feel like it’s hard for me to get to church now. Maybe I’m just depressed? I do know that my children had alot to do with me pulling it together and getting there. I may have been there physically, but mentally, I haven’t. I just feel like I am not being refreshed, or fired up as I have been in the past after a service. I feel like many churches are only preaching/teaching what everyone wants to hear. No toes are getting stepped on anymore! I am starting to listen to other pastors who do step on toes via the internet as there are none in this town. What happened to preaching about Hell? Shouldn’t our leaders be making others aware that it exists and that Jesus is coming back soon???
    I need to know why our leaders are only having church on Sunday ams and not Sunday nights as well. How about Wednesday night family study? Why are leaders not yearning to have more church??? That is how it is here and other places.
    I do believe we are in the end times.
    I do know that I need to get on my knees and pray. I realize I need to start trying to reach others and let them know about Jesus. I know I need to step out from my comfort zone and start spreading the Gospel.
    I’m just concerned for my children. They have yet to experience what I consider “having church”. Yes, they have been to church. They just haven’t had the choice to be in a fired up, Holy Ghost moving type service!

    My prayer is…come Jesus Come! That’s where we will find the perfect church!! :)

  43. 43
    Margaret B says:

    Because online we can make ourselves out to be anyone and lie. Having “in-your-face” 24/7 community like Jesus displayed can’t be beat. It’s AWESOME! :-)

  44. 44

    I have struggled with many of these issues myself, especially after joining a mega church for the first time. I actually just taught a class on compassion a dealt with the issue of starting in the church. It is a serious issue we need to deal with. Also touched on it in this blog:
    http://shandaoakley.blogspot.com/2011/03/alone-in-church.html
    Thank you for bringing it up. We all need to work together

  45. 45
    jeff elohim says:

    remember the widow who put in two coins – all that she had to live on. yes, ALL.
    she trusted YHVH, according to YAHSHUA HIMSELF.
    she did not trust chruch. she did not trust the / a pastor or rabbi or leader. or at least it was for her FAITH IN YHVH, not in a man or in a man’s group, that YAHSHUA recognized her and her faith…. again FAITH IN YHVH, by grace in YAHSHUA… the KEY TO LIFE AND HAPPINESS AND FULLNESS AND JOY.
    footnote: there is a great deception in almost all of the chruches in the world, that directs YOUR FAITH AWAY FROM YAHSHUA, AWAY FROM YHVH. do not let this continue!!! it is very very very important. turn to YHVH, in YAHSHUA, and seek YHVH to help you and seek YHVH / DADDY / to teach you HIMSELF! (HE IS HAPPY TO, according to YAHSHUA’S WORD IN SCRIPTURE)….
    YHVH is daddy’s name in reality, in scripture, and in daily conversation. YAHSHUA is the MESSIAH’S NAME. YAHSHUA IS THE COMFORTER. YAHSHUA IS HOLY.

    note: there is only one name, ONE NAME, only ONE NAME, under heaven given among men by which you may be healed / saved/ helped / taught – YAHSHUA. yes, YAHSHUA is HIS NAME.
    there is NO OTHER NAME by which to be saved nor helped nor by which to be able to approach YHVH / daddy/ CREATOR…

  46. 46
    jeff elohim says:

    Loneliness, … it’s a little like the opposite of fellowship with Creator YHVH.
    Or
    a lot like.
    It
    is also associated with disassociation from others of YHVH’S family of martyr/infants.
    (there are almost no grown-ups, almost no scholars, few rich, few intelligent, in the family of YHHV in YAHSHUA)…
    (they all have something ‘better’ to do instead of give up everything for YHVH’S PLAN)
    …….
    so,
    everyone who willingly joyfully gives up everything for YHVH’S PLAN IN YAHSHUA
    enjoys
    HIS ENCOURAGEMENT, HIS FELLOWSHIP, HIS ENLIGHTENMENT,
    ……
    ……………HIS LIFE!!! GIVEN FULLY!!
    well,
    that’s the gist of it all…….. but,
    there is A LOT OF NITTY GRITTY to ‘suffer’ through….

    only,
    remember again the ekklesia was FULL JOY and NOT ONE OF THEM LACKED !!!!!!!
    and NOT ONE OF THEM LACKED !!!!!!!
    and NOT ONE OF THEM LACKED !!!!!!!
    so
    if there is someone hungry, then who around them is HOLDING OUT ???
    so
    if there is someone cold, then who
    around them is HOLDING OUT ???

    get it ??? let the one among you who has two rooms, share one room(or even a couch) with someone who has none…..
    you’re
    going to have to learn as you go, like
    little children learning to play together with all the dirt and grass and mud and squabbles and all the little irksomenesses … … …

    yep — you’re going to have to learn as you go
    BECAUSE NO ONE WILL TEACH YOU OR SHOW YOU
    because
    all of the ones that you thought would
    won’t.

    you’ll have to get with others who will say with you “LET US SEEK YHVH AND DO AS HE SAYS. LET US SEEK YHVH TOGETHER AND DO AS HE SAYS. LET US SEEK YHVH TOGETHER AND START RIGHT NOW LIVING HIS WAY.”
    in grace in YAHSHUA, this is possible.
    (it is also HIS PROMISE IN SCRIPTURE !!! – look it up)

  47. 47
    fran says:

    I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone, I’ve been a member of my church for 7years, and I felt ok for a couple of years. I’m a people person so I’m open to everyone to get to know folks regaurdless to race,gender or class rich or poor it really dose not matter. I love folks period I have been faced with lots of hurt from this church, and have felt terribly rejected, the only reason I stayed is because I worked in the nursery, and there really was not a lot of folks that volunteer there time to help out the kids, the associate pastor one day made mention of my service and fatihfulness to the children in the nursery, and soon after that I recevied nothing but cold stares, and rejection from the members and the leaders in the inner circle. it became really hard to function because you could feel the plots in the hearts of my so called church family, and I tried to be nice and be positive and treating them kind even if they where ploting, and some would stop in the door way of the nursery which was out of the norm, and just peek in and look and stare with no words. and, it really got bad when a leader suggested that a camrea be put into the nursery and I had no prior knowleged about it, and so while i was out for a week and returned it was there, and when i asked what it was I was lied to by a chaplin who is on pastoral staff, and told me it was a cable box hook up, then there was on usher of the church that told me the truth, hey thats a camrea in there ,it almost like some one wants to catch me doing something bad,then the childrens pastor who I once was very close to when I first started, began to treat me different, when a lady that had been gone for about a year and some change came back she was supposenly the 3-6yr teacher I was 0-2yr teacher, and when she retured I felt very disrepected cause she began moving stuff out of my class that I had gotten myself, and she would always come to my class telling me how to run the class and what I needed for my class I was unbale to flow in my gift, and do things for my kids anymore, cause she over shadowed me, and she would go back and fourth with me about how she knows what she knows and, how many years she been doing what shes doing and ,now the childrens pastor was’nt allowing certain things anymore, and I’m like what!! how come he did’nt tell me?, so what was so wonderful and joyful beacame burdonsome. cause there was a middle man .and when I would go to the childrens pastor to talk to him about certain issues it would be like I was causing confussion ,and malice and what was once a close relationship with that leader began to be distant on purpose ,I could fill it it was very hurtful over a period of time trying to talk to him about how I felt without being ignored ,I couldn’t understand after all that time why I felt like everyone was putting up walls, I felt like I had to force my way through, it was very hurtful and then I notice that more ,and more folks started to shut me off or act like I wasn’t there even if said hello to them ,I mean people that you known and seen for years showing nothing but coldness towards you, I was feeling like am I cursed or someting, is something wrong with me, the walls just kept closing in on me to the point where I couldn’t even ask or requset anything for the nursery anymore they would tell me no I don”t feel like this is my family anymore no matter what I do there is really no effort to meet me half way, I even tryed to talk to the lady about how what she was doing made me feel. it”s usless cause they are all on the same team, I’m not in the group or click so weather I’m right or wrong the click always wins ,and you feel like the black sheep, I cryed my last tear it’s time to seek God for freedom in him, and get myself out of this bondage;I just want freedom. and be a slave to no man.

  48. 48
    Cita says:

    I feel the same way. My famiy and I believe we need to try to find and invite like-minded people and some that are not as likeminded but who will be open, like we are, to sharing and learning from our differences, within bilically moral guidelines, in gentleness and kindness, as our Messiah prescribes to a picnic or for a cocoa in a public setting a few times to see if we might make some friends. If we do seem to get along, thenwe might, after prayer and discussion with our family, see if we can start a fellowship/relationship with these people.

    It is very hard work, especially when you move to a new place and most people are not always open to newcomers. We just moved to Memphis, so we are having to try this friend-finding process all over again. It is exhausting, to say the least, and we are not feeling too happy about beginning all over again. So far, we have not made any solid connections.
    Another thing we find is thhat many people are too busy for good old-fashioned hospitality. It leaves you feeling alone and uncared for but what we really need is to pray for the Lord to help us and guide us to a few good solid beleivers who will be, as the Scripture says, “…sticks closer than a brother.”

    If you are ever in the Memphis area, you are more than welcome to stop by. I have a bought some of you material and have read a lot of what you have written and agree with most if not all of your beliefs, so I feel like I know you. God bless you and we pray that the Lord send you some brethren that will encourage you in the straight and narrow.

  49. 49
    Amy says:

    I was just cleaning out my old email account and saw this link. I haven’t been following this blog very well so this comment is just based on this one artical but let me just say, from a heart to encourage another believer, I have struggled with feeling alone at church and I agree that youth groups and sunday schools are not biblical. But even though there are problems with the church sometimes, it doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. Consider Heb 10:23-25. Sometimes I feel alone at home (and that’s an understatement). Does that mean I should shrink back from my family because we aren’t experiancing the ideal during those times? Of course not. My point is that all human relationships take massive amounts of work because we are all fallen. But when we withdraw from eachother we miss opportunities to sharpen eachother’s iron, to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I think these lonely feelings must be a part of the large movement of house churches we are seeing in our day. Not that there’s anything wrong with meeting in a house but there is something horribly wrong with throwing out the protection of the church. Jesus told Peter to show his love for Him by tending his sheep. Paul gave instuctions to Titus on how to organize a church to protect whole families from false teachers, and think of all the congregational worship in the Psalms. I’m not saying that if God is leading you to move on from your church that you shouldn’t find another church but you know that God’s will will never contradict his word. I’m still wrestling through some of these issues myself but this is what I know: Jesus built the church on the rock that was Himself and hell can not prevail against it(Matt 16:16-18) and he loves and protects it as a bride(Eph 5:22-32)He ispired men to write instructions regarding the church like discipline(Matt 18:17)and obeying leadership (Heb 13:17)and when the Corinthians were rebuked because of their church behavior a distinction was made between home and church. In Revelation 2-3, there are letters to specific churches in specific cities. My husband is always talking about dividing and conquering (he’s really into military history) and I think that the enemy seeks to use this tactic. (1 Peter 5:1-8) All this to say, please be careful. My heart tends to go this way when I feel lonely in a church family but remember that the heart is deceitful, don’t trust it. I will be praying for wisdom for you, will you do the same for me? (I know that I probably sound preachy but I wanted to try to help)

  50. 50
    chungeecha says:

    Church is a waste of time because people there really don’t care about you or anyone else around them. Everyone just goes there to feel nice about themselves.

  51. 51
    marktuan8 says:

    such a sad but true reality about church in America.

  52. 52

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  53. 53
    Kathy says:

    Thank you, Robin! I just confronted my Bible study leader on this topic and I haven’t heard back from her yet. I’m suppose to lead a book club event on Margaret Feinberg’s book, “The Sacred Echo.” She addresses this issue in Chapter 8. I’m kinda stuck there. I am praying that my church will address this issue. If not, after reading most of the above posts, I have many options. I appreciate your blog!

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