When You Don’t Fit In at Your Church


If you don’t go to church because you don’t feel like you fit in, you’re not alone! A She Blossoms reader recently asked for tips on finding a church that is welcoming and inclusive.

“What do you do when you just do not fit in at your church? I have been at my church for over 20 years. I have taken classes, participated in ministries, volunteered. People seem nice and friendly but don’t invite me to social events. Before my divorce I thought I was finally making some headway. But then my marriage fell apart and I was dropped. Should I look for another home church and start fresh?”

Do you feel like you don’t fit in at church? I confess that I’m a bit of a church hopper, even though church is an important way for me to worship and build my relationship with God. My husband and I have attended five churches in 13 years of marriage, which means we go to a new church every few years. Not fitting in at church is a small part of the reason we keep moving around…there are bigger issues we struggled with.









When I asked my She Blossoms Facebook Group what they do when they feel like they’re not fitting in with other Christians, I receive a variety of honest and interesting answers.

Here’s a slice of what my group members said, plus a few tips for fitting in at church…

What to Do When You Don’t Fit in at Church

When we left one of my favorite churches – Capilano Christian Community in Vancouver – we had an “exit interview” with one of my favorite pastors. It was so cool; he took us out for coffee, asked us to share our thoughts on the church, and blessed us.

We left that church because it moved to a new location, which was too far for us to drive. We felt like we fit in fine, even though it was mostly families and we’re a childless couple. We really liked the home group, especially because it involved a weekly dinner! I loved eating together.

Even though I tend to change churches regularly, I think it’s better to stick with a community through the problems and pains. It’s not always possible – especially if you feel like you don’t fit in – but it’s what we’re called to do. Even if our fellow church going Christians aren’t as friendly, warm, or inclusive as we’d like.

Here are a few thoughts from my She Blossoms readers. Feel free to share your own below! I’d love to hear how you cope with not fitting in at church.

Figure out why you feel like you don’t fit in

“If you’re not involved in your church and don’t get to know people, how do you expect them to know what you need?” asks DS.

“When people go to church once in awhile for an hour and then blame the church people for not ‘checking up’ on them, I feel that’s victim mentality. If it’s a doctrinal reason, then ask the pastor for clarification on what you don’t understand. If you have small children, you may want to look for a church with a great kids program.”



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This is the first and most important thing to do when you don’t feel like you fit in at church: ask yourself what your expectations are. What are you looking for? What do you want and need? Be clear on what you’re missing in church – or why you feel like you don’t fit in. Then, you can start creating what you need.

Consider changing churches

“Seriously and prayerfully consider whether you need to change churches,” said LJ. “I’m not advocating “church hopping,” though. You need to think and pray through why you feel like you don’t fit in at your church. My husband and I moved churches three years ago, and I’m so pleased we did. Sadly, he passed away at the end of last year, but I’m really pleased that he was so happy in church for the last few years of his life. We grew in faith I much through good teaching, and I’ve had such a lot of support since being widowed. We left our old church still in good relationship, which is also important. We had been there about 25 years, so it was a big decision!”

Reach out to others at church

When You Don’t Fit in at Church“I attend a Prayer Group at another church and feel I have better connections with them,” says EN.

“I blame myself for not connecting with people at my home church. I think I should be a little more outgoing, get involved and be friendlier. I’m polite and any conversation is usually just a greeting. I’m loyal by nature so I continue to go to the church I’ve been attending for over 30 years. When I was away for six weeks this past winter, no one enquired why I was absent. Well, one man always notices when I am not there, but he was absent on my first Sunday back.”

Participate in the church’s activities

Try to get more involved,” says SN. “Ask what activities and programs they have. Like a sewing group, feeding shut ins, or after school club. Or, start your own thing! You’ll find other people who don’t feel like they fit in at church. If all fails find a different church.”

Join a home, small, or community group

“My church is great, but I was feeling like the only single person there,” says BD. “It is hard to fit in with married couples, especially at my age. We had small groups that met throughout the week. That was a good way to get to know people. I could talk about my life, etc., and they would listen and offer help and support and prayer. Then the group became too large and filled with married retired people. I just didn’t feel like I belonged with the group as much. I know if I went back they would be very glad to see me, but I just can’t seem to make myself go.”

Remember why you go to church

“Just going to church without relating to other Christians is what I DO NOT like about church,” says DB. “The reason to go to church is to be with others who love the Lord as we do, and to worship together. It helps us to feel not alone, and happy that others are like us, and realize that we are one body in Christ! We need to be with other Christians, and talk with them and offer help if needed. Sometimes just listening is very helpful.”

What do you do when you don’t fit in at your church? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below!







Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books

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Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.








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How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.









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When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.







xo


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9 thoughts on “When You Don’t Fit In at Your Church

  • Laurie Post author

    It’s so interesting to hear from you! Especially if you don’t feel like you fit in at church, because everyone else seems so comfortable there. Maybe we should start a “Church of Misfits” 🙂 A community of Christians who don’t feel like they belong to a church, who can support and encourage each other through all the weird and wonderful stages of life.

    One thing that came to my mind while reading your comments was Paul’s description of us believers being different members of the same body. Some of us are hearts, others are hands. Some of us are movers, others are solid and steady. Some of us see and others hear. Maybe part of finding a church that fits involves accepting that your fellow believers are different from you, allowing yourself to be different from them, and accepting that some people will ever really understand you.

    Of course, that’s easier said than done! Only one human has done it perfectly, and his name is Jesus. Good thing we follow him and not each other 🙂

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life – the hardships and your take on faith. It’s awesome to get a sense of who finds She Blossoms. I hope to see you in our garden again soon.

    With His love,
    Laurie

  • Renee

    I found this article upon looking for “feeling like you don’t fit in” (of more of a general category).

    For the most part though, I’ve never had a problem feeling like I didn’t fit in with general social / work things. I’m part of a wide smattering of book / hobby / writers clubs, volunteer organizations etc. and even at the smattering of jobs I’ve had; I’ve always been able to “find my niche”.

    My biggest issue “fitting in” oddly enough has always been churches. The longest I think I’ve ever been in one church was 10 years. I tend to do a lot of Bible study and it has nearly almost always been some aspect of doctrine or practice that has caused me to leave. Some of the places I’ve left were rightly for the sake of my own mental health, as they were run by independent overtly narcissistic people. I’ve also never had a problem “not being involved”. I’m there. I’m there for services, Bible studies, fellowship dinners, community activities and even help clean the building.

    My “down side” is (I guess); I’m a rather outside of the box type of person. I’m rather creative, rather conservative in style of dress and tend to borrow ideas from other cultures. I don’t look like your “typical American”. And interestingly enough, for some people, that’s been a problem. (Not sure why?)

    And if people can get past that, sometimes it’s my next set of life circumstances they can’t “get past”. My life has been difficult. I came from a very dysfunctional family and I’m a disabled war veteran with an autistic teenage boy who has some behavioral challenges. I’m also a widow, who’s husband committed suicide. Life is tough and there’s no doubt that struggles shape who we are. I’ve survived a lot. I’m resilient and have little time for the nonsense of trying to impress anyone.

    Now if they can get past that; spiritually speaking I’m also pretty solid. No person who’s come face to face with the life changing power of eternal God walks away from hardships (sometimes extremely trying ones) without an ever increasing solidity of faith. Now on account of how life has impacted me; I’m not exactly the most diplomatic person. I say what’s on my mind and do my best to be nice about it; but I certainly don’t always say things that are particularly popular. I tend to challenge peoples’ “status quo” in that regard.

    So this brings me to my point about churches. Not every personality fits every congregation. Someone like me may not be good for an Ivy league college ministry; but I might be perfect for a prison ministry or your average city ghetto soup kitchen. Personally I tend to do well with developmentally disabled people and refugees. LOL

    And this is what’s been the hardest realization about the church I just left. I didn’t fit in particularly well socially because my life experience was just so different than most other people who went to that church. I presented as a genuine “personality conflict” with a lot of people and sometimes that just happens.

  • Mar

    I’ve haven’t felt comfortable in church since I was used & abandoned by my first church. They were like family to me, which apparently wasn’t reciprocated. After putting 4 years of all my time & money into building the church, the pastor left town with his family. The replacement guy was awful, & I left the church for an unbelieving man, just so I wouldn’t be alone. I didn’t go back to church for almost 30 years. Today I attend a local church, but I’m reluctant to get involved cuz it all seems like corporate marketing, to me. I do my best to use my gifts & talents for my individual brethren, but not giving any money, anymore.

  • Thalma

    I feel alot of people ask how you’re doing. But then donot really want to hear. Or they have a bit of a self righteous way about them. Or they have no compassion. And do not offer to help someone. When they are in need. They only are concerned about their needs. So i cannot talk to anyone there. It is uncomfortable to hear remedies. But no offers to help. I just try to keep to myself.

  • Sarah Cummings

    I think this is such important advice. It’s imperative you feel welcome and surrounded by peers similar to yourself when attending church.

    • Thalma Bauer

      Anyways. We all must remember. Why we go to church anyway. It is to strengthen our relationship with God. It is the people that are hard to understand. So we must pray for patience . And not get so upset by people. People will always be people. And only God can change them. Let us just pray for one another.

  • Zoe Phungula

    Thank you
    This has been a great help. I now see things differently. My eyes are spiritually open, thank God Almighty.

    Love You
    Zoe