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 friendly, accepting, and loving.
“What do you do when you just do not fit in at your church?” she asked on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Christians. “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 follow Jesus Christ in more meaningful ways. 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 thoughts below; I’d love to hear how you cope with not fitting in at church.
1. 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.”
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.
2. 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!”
3. Reach out to other Christians
“I attend a Prayer Group at another church and feel I have better connections with them,” says MK. She added that she and her group are particularly focused on finding ways to stop being critical Christians.
“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.”
4. Get involved 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.”
5. 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.”
6. 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.”
7. Be honest with other Christians about how you feel
Have you talked to other believers about not fitting in at church? It can be easy to think we’re the only ones who feel a certain why. Then we start talking about how we feel and what we think, and we find others feel the same way. If you can’t share how you honestly feel about your church, then you’re in the wrong community! Find at least one person to talk to. Don’t carry this burden alone.
Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below.
With His love,
P.S. If not fitting in at church is affecting your relationship with Jesus, read A Simple Way to Return to God.