Spirit

Bored with "church"…

I have become bored with “church.” What I mean, is I have become bored with that weekly meeting that occurs on Sunday mornings. My wife and I have not attended a Sunday morning meeting in over a month. At first missing these meetings made me feel kind of guilty. I had always wanted to continue my Sunday morning meetings because I felt like it was the only way I could build a relationship with these people. In a way, I still kind of feel that way… but for me, I have found that this feeling is somewhat unfounded. This is why I have become bored with “church” or at least the idea of “church.”

My current understanding of church… or at least, what the church should do when it meets, comes from scripture. It can be found in a number of places, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians are probably the two strongest places that I can think of. I sense that as the church, when we meet, we should be building relationships with each other, we should be teaching each other, encouraging each other, edifying and loving each other. I believe that it is everyones responsibility to do these things. Which is exciting to me, yet I have still become bored with “church.”

From my experiences I have learned that these things do not normally happen during the normal church meetings (Sunday morning/night, Wednesday, etc.). Instead, we meet for a couple quick bible lessons – usually from the same one person and sometimes some singing. There is sometimes a time for fellowship, if more than just a hand-shake then it is pretty much just surface level. I sense that this is mainly because there are usually way too many people in one meeting. Often what happens is cliques grow out of the meetings and whole groups of people end up ignoring each other. In a way, doing all of this is seen as fulfilling what scripture says… but frankly, I disagree.

I have found that it is extremely difficult to build real relationships when all you do is take part of these meetings. So, I have taken my relationship building with some of these people outside of this box. In fact, I don’t waste my time on the box at all anymore. I have a feeling that I am seen as the heretic or the “wolf” – which is fine, God is in control of all that. But for now, I will continue to attempt to use my time more wisely and actually do things that promote relationship building.

Some people may think that I am “forsaking the assembling” of ourselves. I would disagree on this point as well. I continue to meet with other believers. I do so virtually (through this blog, other blogs in the form of comments, email, and chat programs). I also meet with other believers face to face as often as I can – usually once or twice a week. Each of these meeting places gives me the opportunity to consider them and urge them to love and good works.

What do you think about this? I would love to hear from you.

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25 Comments

  1. Hey Lew,
    Have you decided that there is absolutely no benefit for attending the weekly “church” meetings? I agree with your understanding of how Scripture views church and it sounds as if you are not forsaking the gathering of the assembling if you are meeting with others face to face (although I have some reservations about electronically).

    Have you considered, though, your responsibility to your wife or your responsibility to those God has placed in your life through the “church meetings”? I guess what I’m saying is, I think your response could be acceptable if it’s not selfishly motivated (and I’m not saying it is… I’m asking). Have you made strides to ensure that your wife has fellowship and to reach out to those who may be ignorant of this position?

    Those are the questions that came to my mind. Sunday morning is my least favorite time with the church, but I do not find it without any benefit for my wife, me and for those that I have a hard time connecting with outside of that constricted 2 or 3 hours on Sunday morning. When I “skip church” I don’t feel guilty or out of the fellowship, but I do feel a little selfish.

  2. Gary

    Thanks for the support :).

    Glenn

    You have brought up some excellent points, points I have in fact dealt with over and over again in my mind. I would not say that I see “absolutely no benefit” for attending the weekly meetings. For instance these times can be a great time to learn about scripture. I fully support people getting together to learn about scripture… although I don’t really think the traditional meetings are the best atmosphere for doing so.

    I have considered my responsibility to my wife. She basically feels the same way that I do. I think it is very important for her (and I) to meet with the Church. But I do not think the act of “meeting” fulfills anything or helps anything. Just sitting in a room with a lot of other people sitting in a room, hardly interacting is not going to benefit my wife.

    Further, the same goes with my responsibility to those God has placed in my life through those meetings. By the way, I would not say that I have ignored that responsibility. I still communicate with them on a regular basis, and often times eat lunch with some of them (when we are available). I think a lot of them have written me off because my views disagree with theirs. Even so, it has not prevented me from considering them.

    As far as “strides” are concerned, I guess it depends on what how you define the word… at the very least I would say that I have made “attempts.” As far as I can tell my responsibility ends at making attempts. I cannot control if the other parties reciprocate.

    Thanks for the great comment. I hope this answers some of your questions. There is much more I could say, but will refrain for the sake of the privacy of others.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  3. It does. I think I’m hitting up against some of the same frustrations you are experiencing. I think the key to our frustration is in the first paragraph of your response.

    You say “these times can be a great time to learn about scripture. I fully support people getting together to learn about scripture…”

    I agree and would add that the frustration comes when the church believes that this satisfies not only teaching, but fellowship and worship as well. Sunday mornings, in my experiences, do not satisfy fellowship or even worship, but people assume they do… and that is frustrating.

  4. Lew,

    You asked for it, brother.;) Based on my own personal experience I’m going to assume you’ve cried out to God with a *sincere* heart asking for nothing less than everything He wants for us and offers us. A sincere cry from the heart, “Father!” is more powerful than a thousand generic “blah, blah, blahs-amen.” I won’t quote a bunch of scripture, only the first one that came to me:

    Mat 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
    Mat 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
    Mat 7:9 “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?
    Mat 7:10 “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
    Mat 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
    Mat 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
    Mat 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
    Mat 7:14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    The only agenda we have is a pure relationship with Him. The thought of any other agenda or interference or time wasted makes us sick to the stomach. It’s like growing up as a child never having met your father. You’ve learned everything about him and even called and left messages on his phone. Now, never being satisfied, nothing and no one can stop you from walking through that opened door and setting out to find him, settling for nothing less than his embrace when meeting him face-to-face.

  5. Lew – Not a lot of time to discuss, but you did ask for our thoughts, so…

    Pray. Much.

    You appear to have a list of things that “church” should be accomplishing in your life, the first of which is preventing boredom. That may not be true, but that’s how this comes across.

    Pray. Much.

    Use. Less. Logic.

    Pray. Much.

  6. Jeff

    Thanks for the comment.

    Bernard

    Thanks for the comment. Let me clarifying. I am not saying that I find going to church “boring” because it does not entertain me. In fact, my intention for this post was not to list a bunch of things that the Church should perform in my life… but what I (we) should be performing when we meet with the Church. The “boredom” comes from the fact that the current traditional structures do not allow us to perform these things.

    I hope this clarifies the point I was making.

    Thanks again for the comments.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  7. Hi! This is the first time that I’ve read your blog, so it might not be exactly “fair” of me to share my two cents on the matter…in many ways I can relate to what you’re saying. I’ve had similar feelings myself many times. I wonder though if perhaps the problem has more to do with the SPECIFIC congregation that you’re meeting with on Sunday mornings (and perhaps Sunday nights and Wednesday nights). I agree that fellowship and mutual edification is hard to get at a large Sunday morning gathering, but it seems that many churches “fulfill” that area by then having small groups that meet throughout the week. Perhaps you just need to find the “right” church for you and your wife? Also, the biggest concern/”red flag” that I see has to do with being submissive to authority. It seems as if (and maybe I’m misunderstanding things, and if so, I’m sorry) you’re becoming “a sheep without a shepherd” as it were. The truth is, no congregation is perfect. No matter where you go, if you look hard enough, you’ll find something wrong. I mean, Jesus was perfect, yet they found enough stuff “wrong” with Him to crucify Him over it. But by not having yourself under some sort of authority, I feel as if you’re leaving yourself out there vulnerable. So I think that would be my biggest concern. i think that at the very least, it can’t HURT to attend a Sunday morning service somewhere once a week and be under the authority of that pastor/leadership team. I really do believe that there is blessing/protection under that. Looks like my “two cents” turned into about twenty bucks ;-)

  8. Lew,

    I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to comment on this post yet. I just want to say one thing: thank you for thinking through these things, sharing your thoughts with us, and not settling for the easy answer. God has an answer, and he tells us how we should respond to one another when we meet togehter. As far as I see it, we can continue to meet together in the traditional way, assuming that God is pleased since we are placing ourselves under the authority of some human agent. Or, as another option, we can follow what God tells us and we can begin meeting in ways that allow us to carry out the one-anothers of Scripture – even if those human agents disagree with us. Of course, when we do this, we will find that there are other believers longing for this same type of interaction. Many of these will be more mature than us and able to shepherd us as we all mature toward Christ-likeness.

    I must say that you are an example for me, because you have not simply left the “Sunday morning meeting” like many people have done. Instead, you have attempted to maintain and build on those relationships that you’ve formed with those within that traditional meeting.

    -Alan

  9. Lew,

    Welcome to the club :)

    Rhea,

    I would love to see some biblical support for the idea that one must be under the “authority of [a] pastor/leadership team”.

    A person who is truly devoted to Jesus Christ and following Him and seeking after Him is never a “sheep without a shepherd”. Jesus is the true shepherd of his sheep.

  10. Rhea

    Welcome to my blog! Your comments are always welcome… I’ll let you know if they’re not fair ;).

    Of course I can only relate to my own experiences, and I am by no means saying that every and all traditional church meetings are like this. However, most (if not all) of the ones I have been apart of and/or witnessed share these same faults. I know many churches try different things such as small groups to fulfill which is great. Unfortunately though, even these can sometimes be so strict and rigid that they thwart the very edification and fellowship that they were designed for (probably because you cannot design a program for fellowship).

    I’m not one of those people who think that there is a “right” church for me. I guess, the way I see it, the church exists and I have a duty to them all as I come in contact with them. I am usually unable to fulfill these duties during traditional Sunday morning meetings.

    As Alan and Steve already eluded to. I do believe I am under authority. Jesus is my authority, he protects me and blesses me. More so than any man… and those men in my life who are more mature than I, who act more like Jesus than I, are men who I carefully listen to and consider.

    I really do appreaciate your “twenty bucks” :)… you have some great thoughts and valid concerns.

    Alan

    Thanks for the encouraging words. I really do appreciate them.

    Steve

    It is an interested club :). And you’re absolutely right, Jesus is the true shepherd. I think he said that once or twice too!

    Thanks everyone for interacting… keep it up!

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  11. Hi,
    I know EXACTLY how you feel. In fact, someone referred me to your blog because you sound so much like me.

    We’ve been “out” of church for a few months now. The false guilt fades, especially as God begings to allow you to experience REAL church. It feels SO good.

    I don’t have the time or the energy to do “fake” church and still fit “REAL chuRch in as well. I’m finding even a little of the REAL thing goes a LOT further than what we’ve been putting up with, and doesn’t leave the sickening aftertaste.

    Visit me at http://www.xanga.com/tincottage and
    http://www.shoutlife.com/FlamingHeart
    if you have time. If you go back a few months and work forward, you’ll see a journey in progress.

    God bless you!
    Robyn

  12. Looks like there’s quite a club here of you folks who think that the “normal” approach to church is all screwed up, so I’d prefer not to have a big argument about it. You’ve got your opinions; mine are very different. I’m sure all of you have studied the Bible much more than I have and I trust that your decisions and preferences are truly directed by God. If they are, no argument I can make is worthwhile or even appropriate. If your thoughts are NOT being directed by God, He’s capable of smacking you up side the head to let you know that you’re off on a tangent.

  13. Churchless Christian

    You’re right, in fact, what started me on this path about two years ago was a group of men asking me “Why?” I found that I had no satisfactory answer from scripture. I know some would disagree. But now, when someone asks me “Why” I can look at scripture and say… “See”.

    Thanks for the link. I’ve been looking at some of the pictures – Great!

    Robyn

    Thanks for stopping by, and for your friend pointing you to my blog. I appreciate the encouraging words. I am always glad to hear from people who have gone through similar things and are enjoying the new things that God is showing them. I will be checking out your links a little later.

    Bernard

    Thanks… I think :). Your comments and opinions are always welcome here. I do not think anyone here would claim to have all the right answers. We are just trying to learn to obey God together. Sometimes we need people who disagree with us to keep us grounded… and sometimes you’ll need people to do the same.

    God has smacked me around a few times already… a lot of the time it has led me further down the course I am on now. But I do pray that he would show me(us) our false ways – if they are false.

    Thanks everyone for the great comments!

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  14. If I were to join a club, the not going to a club, club would be the club I would want to join ;)

    Haven’t been back yet but feel that if I were just the one in the pew – not the one in the front who is getting the glory for making the sunday morning club happen, I would find little to keep me. It was not relationships that made me want to be a leader. Now relationships are all that matter. Those are better served outside the sunday morning club service.

    And by the way, the only time in my life that God has ever “smacked me upside the head” was for being a pharasee. The rest of the time if I am really trying to hear him speak, he has always been more than kind about changing my way.

  15. Perhaps it is less that one MUST be under authority, and more that one SHOULD. I believe that it’s Paul that talks about how everything is PERMISSIBLE, but everything is not BENIFICIAL. Still, I look at 1 Timothy 5:17, and it makes me think that being under some sort of authority/leadership is good. And also, Jesus was/is under authority/leadership, so should we not follow His example? It reminds me of Luke 7:1-9. So while I might not be able to quote you a Bible verse that specifically says “Thou must be under a leadership teams authority,” I think that the principle is clearly there in scripture.

  16. Lew – My intention was to say that while I don’t agree with the “prevailing” mindset in this comment thread that dropping out of church is the best idea, I’m not in a position to argue endlessly about it and I respect all of your thoughts and opinions enough to simply say “I don’t agree” and leave it at that. I’m not a “my way or the highway” kinda guy; we’ve ALL got at lot to learn. Thanks for the honesty and thoughts.

    As to the “club” remark, it really IS good that those who have similar experiences and feelings can find each other and bond, but we should all be careful that the negative thoughts/experiences of others don’t drag us down.

  17. Bernard,

    I can’t speak for everyone here, but I do not think anyone here has suggested that they are “dropping out of church”. In face, I think most would say that they are finally finding church.

    By the way, the people that I know personally who agree with this post do not separate themselves from people who disagree. In fact, I’ve found that its possible to have very positive and beneficial relationships with people who have different opinions of what “church” means. My desire – and others that I’ve talked with – is not “my way or the highway”, but “God’s way”… wherever that way leads.

    -Alan

  18. There is some breakdown here on what “church” is, and its benefit to the believer.

    1)”Honor the Sabbath day to keep it Holy”

    2)”Forsake not the assembly of yourselves…”

    3)”As was his custom, Jesus went into the synagogue…”

    The Christian life has never been about rugged individualism with the believer alone with God, or with those few in which the person agrees. It is merely the strident and inappropriate application of Kirkegaardian existentialism in this modern era that says we gain nothing from social groupings that we cannot obtain alone or control. Compete and utter nonsense, and completely against Scripture! If the extreme of advocacy that is proposed here were taken, it would hearkens us back to medieval times with cloistered monasteries with very little interaction of those inside unless it was by their choosing.

    I remind you that “the church” is a social institution not invented by man, but created by God, of which Jesus Christ is the head. He promised us that “the gates of hades will not overcome” the church – a fact that a lot of you it seems have already conceded to hell. He has lovingly and graciously given to the local church (and to the “church universal”) gifts of grace to be used in that congregation and throughout the world to be utilized for His glory. He knows and has caused to be written that we cannot do things independently alone – we require encouragement, help, and accountability – something that must come face to face, and within a living, breathing body of Christ of many members – not from meeting one on one with other believers believing incorrectly that what we will receive in that quick moment will be good enough.

    What I hear some of you saying is that you believe the “institutional” church of today is not meeting your needs. When really did it become all about YOU? If you really, truly believed that there was no church body who met on the Lord’s Day who was doing it right(the Lord’s Day being that day in which believers historically, traditionally, and dutifully, and by Scripture commemorates the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, praising and worshiping God, and encouraging each other to do good work, and to share with others about His glorious good news!) then what you really would be doing is starting a fellowship of those of like mind, with the proper structure and authority of a New Testament church by your understanding of Scripture!(rather than congratulating yourselves about how you no longer go to church – Booyah that).

    By all means, begin a service in your homes – frame it according to your understanding, share with others the good news and invite your friends, neighbors and co-workers to participate in worship of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on His day! For goodness sakes be obedient to the Lord Jesus and belong to an accountable body which teaches, preaches, and worships to the glory of God -rather than complaining and being outside of God’s will with absenting yourselves from a body of Christ that has been created for your good, and not for your ill or even enjoyment.

    Rob Ayers

  19. Barb

    I think I just had a seizure :)…

    Seriously though, I appreciate that your focus now is building relationships. Afterall, isn’t that what the Church is? One giant relationship with each other and God.

    Bernard

    I totally understand. I would hope that these discussions to don’t end in futile arguments, but rather differing groups willing to listen to what each other has to say. For the record, I never thought you were saying “my way or the highway.” If I eluded to that, I apologize.

    I agree that we should be very careful about negative thoughts and experiences of others dragging us down. We should also be careful not to drag others down.

    Alan

    Thanks Alan. It is good to know of and hear about the positives that can come from these ideas. I think, ultimately, if we can all get to the mindset of “God’s way” the issue of Sunday morning meetings or Tuesday night meetings will not be the focus, but we will be focusing on each other and obeying God.

    Rob

    Welcome back. To be perfectly honest, I have been thinking about my response to you since you commented. It seems like you are upset at these posts and comments but have missed the thrust of what people have been saying. I guess the best way to respond is to talk about what I (and I think others) agree with you about.

    I agree that the Christian life is not about rugged individualism, etc. I do not think anyone is saying that we gain nothing from social groupings. I am not sure that these ideas are being proposed by anyone here. If they are, then I would take issue with them as well. In fact, what I read in my post and in most of the commenter’s comments, I see people who are very concerned about community and fellowship. I see people who want to meet in groups to fulfill that which we find in scripture. The only difference is that I do not think that can be done during most traditional Sunday morning meetings.

    I do not think anyone here thinks that the gates of hell will overcome the church either. Although some might say that it has overcome the institutions… but not the church itself (that is, the people whom God has called to follow and obey him). Although we do not agree in the local/universal distinction, I do agree that God has and continues to give his church gifts of grace to be used for his glory.

    I have said this in previous comments, but I do not think anyone is concerned with the institutional church entertaining “our” needs. I think most people here are concerned with the institutional church preventing us from meeting the needs of “others.” The whole point of this post was to show how my boredom with “church” comes from the fact that I am completely unable to fulfill what I believe we should be fulfilling by meeting with each other. It is not my place to put down another because they did not encourage me, edify me, teach me, etc. But it is my place (according to scripture) to encourage, edify, teach the church, when we meet.

    As far as your last paragraph, I think we pretty much agree on all of what you wrote. Except the part about complaining and being out of the will of God. I do not know if anyone here is not meeting with the body of Christ (although probably not according to your requirements). But surely no one here thinks that the body of Christ is here for our ill or enjoyment.

    Overall, I agree with much of what you said… although if we were to define some terms, we’d probably agree a little less. The main thing I disagree with is some of your exegesis. For instance, your first three points. You and I both know that the original Sabbath was Saturday. The church traditionally meets on Sunday. Regardless of that fact, the church is not a day of the week so I fail to see your connection between “sabbath” and “church.” I agree wholeheartedly with the verse used in your second point. I do, however, think it is being misinterpreted. Note that that verse does not say anything at all about a special day of the week… but it does describe what it means to forsake the assembly (not encouraging, urging to love and good works, etc.). In your third point I do not understand how the custom of Jesus meeting in a synagogue equates to the tradition of meeting on Sunday in a different building (not a synagogue). Further, as far as I know the synagogue was used at least once a week (Saturday) if not, multiple times a week for prayer and teaching. You could say the church building takes place of the synagogue, but I fail to see the prescriptive element, even if it was the “custom” of Jesus. Futher, we know that God doesn’t care about man made sctructures, he cares about the building he created, his followers, the true Church.

    I think you kind of shot yourself in the foot when you used these as your points. But you did continue by saying that the this is done historically, traditionally, and scripturally. While we find one or two instances of people gathering on Sunday in scripture, I think you might be hard pressed to find any scripture commanding or perscribing us to do so. As far as the historical and the traditional aspect of this meeting, I really find no prescriptive authority in either of those concepts.

    By the way, I encourage you to research the “Lord’s Day” in scripture. I need to do more research about that phrase, but I find it extremely telling that the only time that phrase occurs is in Revalation a book almost entirely about the “Day of the Lord.”

    I hope this helps you understand that we are not against the church… but we are for the church.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

    P.S. Have you had a chance to write anything up about my view of scripture? I would still love to read your defense/apologetic for scripture.

  20. Rob,

    I agree with everything in Lew’s post. The only thing I would add is that for Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and all the rest, the synagogue was lost Jew central. Those were primarily evangelistic interactions. It’s not hard to follow Jesus’ lead on this one. Pick the nearest synagogue and go for it. Then you and I (and the rest of these guys) can get together with our families at my house on Sunday morning (or maybe Tuesday night; I don’t really care) and talk about how the Spirit worked through you to spread the gospel message. We can pray, sing, take the Supper, and enjoy one another’s company in the presence of the living God as we engage in conversation after conversation about His mercy and grace. Someone who feels led to share a teaching can stand up and instruct us. Someone who feels the urge to lift up words of praise to God in song can do so as we join in or simply close our eyes and listen with prayerful hearts. We’ll laugh, cry, pray, sing, eat, and whatever else is pleasing in His sight; always with the knowledge that we are being obedient to Him in our love for one another. With great anticipation we will look forward to the day when we stand bodily in His presence, together forever.

    I don’t know about you, but the scenario above sounds much more appealing to me than sitting on my rump gazing intently at the mortified remains of a once vibrant and thriving collection of cells protruding from an epidermis on the anterior portion of some poor soul’s scalp; all the while listening to bad exegesis that is being monotonously approved by a chorus of “amens,” and no recourse whatsoever for correcting the offending instruction.

    Gary

  21. enjoyed the post lew. i trust that you are capable of following the Spirit and i trust that the Spirit will lead you with regards to any group of Jesus apprentices that Jesus would desire for you to hang with. i don’t find where you are at now to be in any way antithetical to “forsake not the assembling”.

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