Christian mothers: Question about church attendence - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 06-02-2002, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, basically my question is "do I have to go anymore?" But here is the longer version:

We belong to a huge presbyterian church and it is very different than the non-denominational churches I grew up in. It seems solomn and impersonal to me. I've had an impossible time trying to be involved and I guess I really gave up when I visited the group for "parents of young children" and found they were planning to show the Ezzo's video series.

Dh attends the 2 year old sunday school class with our youngest who has severe separaton anxiety, and my oldest goes to class on his own. Which leaves me to sit through the service alone. I get unbearably bored, and feel like I'm going to crawel right out my own skin if I have to sit still another second. I sit there fantasizing that I'm home alone in our quiet empty house, drinking coffee in my pjs and reading a novel. It seems an utter waste to spend my precious "alone time" in a pew at a boring church where I don't know anyone. If Dh could sit with me, going might seem more worthwhile.

Finding a new church is not an option for dh and the kids. They are happy, invested, and involved. I could find my own church, but I think that would be strange for the kids.

I could volunteer to teach sunday school. I wince at the thought of spending anymore time with little kids than I already do all week long. But maybe I could deal with older kids? I don't know. Sounds tiring.

I want to just "take some time off" and stay home by myself for the much needed quiet time. But I'm worried that breaking off contact with other Christians could be detrimental to my spiritual life. OTOH -- my spiritual life is not exactly being fed there. Mostly I'm worried about the example I'll set for my kids if I stop going.

I'm sorry to be so long winded. But, does anyone have adivce?
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#2 of 18 Old 06-03-2002, 01:56 PM
 
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I'd agree with NM. Is there some group or committee that does something that interests you? If you volunteer and get involved, you'll know more people and perhaps become more invested. Our church does a fabulous VBS that's always looking for help and it's a great way to meet people.

If I really can't connect to the philosophy, the minister, the music, the teaching, etc., then I'd move on, but first I'd give it a try.

I would also be tempted to find out more about the people promoting Ezzo. Maybe they are totally ignorant about these methods, and you could help them move on to something actually beneficial to children and parents. Sometimes these programs get started because somebody hears that a method is popular, not because they themselves actually know anything about it, so maybe the Ezzo stuff stems from ignorance. Maybe not, of course, just giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I can relate about sitting through the service alone. My DH teaches Sunday school for half the year. It almost irritates me that he teaches it, I'm ashamed to admit. My kids are also in Sunday school, so most of the service I'm there alone. I love my church and we are involved, but sometimes it's hard.
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#3 of 18 Old 06-03-2002, 04:13 PM
 
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I don't like my church. The sermons are always the same, music is lacking (it is over jusrt about the time you start to leave the world bhind and focus on God : ) and I usually end up walking the halls with my baby who suddenly hates nursery.

What really helps me is I found a really good interdenominational bible study for women and it is so great. The kids are well taken care of, the food is good. the fellowship excellent, the study enlightning, prayers sincere. I love it. The best part is that it isn't just "young mothers. It is young single women, elderly women (my favorite, they have such great insights). Perhaps you could find something like that. This one meets at a babtist church so it surprised me that I liked it but there are charasmatics to catholics there and everyone gets along just fine. They tend to stay away from parenting classes which is good and they don't mind if your babe hangs out with you (so long as you occaisionally pass the love around )and nobody raises eyebrows about nursing.
Also a group of ladies from the church get together everyother week to eat and chit chat so that provides a good time of hanging out with other Christians.

If I thought dh would leave our church I would be out of there faster tyhan you could say amen but alas he loves it there - well he loves his role there but he usually skips the sermon. I skipped Sunday (ofcourse the kids stayed home with me so it wasn't cool) but I really missed geting ou of the house.,Do you have any oither outlets for growth and fellowship? If so I wouldn't feel guilty skipping (so long as dh took the kids). Don't make it a long habit but maybe a few weeks will help you gain perspective. have you talked to your dh about the way you feel? maybe he would be willing to comoprimise.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#4 of 18 Old 06-06-2002, 02:03 AM
 
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Okay, I'm with the rest.

We both don't really like everything about our church but we both definately feel called to stay. The sermons feel more like my old Young Life club messages than "real teaching" (not that they aren't biblical, but they are missing something in my opinion). Because we are new and our church focuses on the Inner City, needy, and children from the neighborhood, we have more who need than those who can give back. As a result there isn't much as far as Sunday School groups, especially for adults.

What we have found is that we love the people. Lately we go with our only son (one year in two weeks) and sit in the back of the room playing with ds. A few other mothers bring their young children back with us to. We can hear the music, sing and listen to the sermons from there. Everyone seems to give us grace with the children.

Actually, our ds has always been welcome to stay in the service. NO looks and no one makes us feel out of place. Actually we had been reminising about our old church (where the preaching was to die for) and went to hear a friend share a few months ago. It wasn't much like we remembered and everyone gave us strange looks for having our ds in church with us. Not very welcoming. Made us feel better about our "new" church.

We have been there for about 2 years now and it isn't all we are looking for but it is where God has us. I go mainly for the people and the worship. That alone keeps me going.

I wish you luck. Honestly, I know it is hard.
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#5 of 18 Old 06-06-2002, 10:53 AM
 
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Okay, I don't know what happend -- I wrote this really articulate (and well spelled) reply and it's not here!!!!

So, I'll try again, but this won't be nearly as good

In answer to the orignial question, as i understand it, yes Christians have to go to church.
That said, I will give you the "elevator" explaination. Christianity is a community based faith. The Church, Christianity, was begun - was birthed, by the Holy Spirit "While they were all gathered together in one place" (Acts 2) We can not be Christians in isolation -- church = community.

Now, as to where you go to church -- that is another question. god has allowed the blooming of many different expressions of Christianity. (I don't know why 'cause I think God should just have everyone agree with me :LOL )
When looking for a community inwhich you can live, you have to make an effort. Dead or dry churches need people who are not in agreement with the way things are to speak up. May I recomend going to the pastor, rather than some other person and ask them questions. For example on the Ezzo class -- why are they showing those tapes, whose idea was it, are they open to another way -- like discussing Dr. Sears book for Chrsitian Parents?
As to worship (I am Presbyterain BTW) the pastor may want to add some "spice" to the worship service, but isn't getting any help in making the change. In my church we follow the liturgy, but I like to spice it up with music, skits, etc. HOWEVER, my attempts to do these things in the church I am currently serving is falling on deaf ears and prune hearts in the leadership. They think the musican is WONDERFUL, I know she is incompetent if we want to truly add praise to our worhship. To add drama to the service means adding time and God forbid we go past one hour! (We always go past one hour -- but the verbal people hate it, the one's that like the "new" stuff don't speak up!
The other thing that talking to the pastor may do for you is to give you an explaination of why the service is structured the way it is. Now maybe you need the "liturgical police" to come in -- your pasotr may not be "with it", but if he/she is they should be able to explain the meaning of the way things are -- If they are following the New Book of Common Worship there is a richness to who we say we are as this particular branch of Chrsiitnaity.

Finally, I really think you should go to the pasotr, if for no other reason than to tell him/her how you feel. You need to find some community in this community and you shouldn't have to teach Sunday School to get that -- IMHO you shouldn't have to do a "job" to do that. There should be some other way the church can feed you right now. Go in (and take the kids with you if you want) and tell him how disconnected you feel -- just try not to sound like you think it is anyone's fault

Well, that's my quarter's worth.
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#6 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 01:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone. I appreciate the time you all put into your relies. I don't know why, but somehow I never got email notification, and I didn't know you all had replied to me. So now I'm sitting here in the middle of the night and found all these thoughful replies! Sort of a nice surprise.

I didn't go last week. I have to go this Sunday because parents rotate teaching summer sunday school. After that, I don't know... Maybe I'll just go to the little non-denominational church on the corner by myself and sit in the back row!

I do wish like crazy that I had a bible study to go to. There are bible studies at offered, but none that seem to "fit" in terms of age group, etc.. I've thought a lot about starting my own bible study, though I would probably invite my friends, and not anyone from my church! Maybe you all would like to come over once a week to study and worship with me??? Sigh, wouldn't that be nice?

I don't think talking to the pastor would help much. Actually there are 4 pastors. And the senior pastor is an interum (sp?) with less of a vested interest. The people in my church have money. And they are mostly older. There are a ton of kids, but it seems like their parents all waited until they were in midlife to have them. Everything just seems so BIG and organized, and middle class. I don't fit.

Rev. Mother -- I don't have the energy to work hard at changing things at my church. I don't feel able to make an effort. I know it sounds bad. But I'm so tired all the time from being up nights, and working, and chasing kids, and dealing with issues in my extended family. I'm really worn down. Dh is too. And at my church (sounds like yours too) making any kind of a change is such an ordeal!!!! Unbelievable. I think there were something like 6 weeks of deliberation and 3 votes before they decided to pass a motion allowing people to leave the service before the end of the musical postlude on Sun. mornings. Good grief. It is not a family or a community. Its more like the US Senate!

One thing I've decided to do is take time each week to myself. (Tomorrow night Dh is taking the kids out for a couple hours. ) Maybe if "my need to be alone" is fed at a different time each week, I wouldn't resent sitting through church so much. It feels a little indulgent to take the time (as busy as our lives are) but heck, Dh spends about 5 hours a week out on his bike! I should get a couple hours too!

You know, this is really silly, but I really just wish I had someone I feel comfortable with to sit by on Sunday mornings.
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#7 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 02:12 AM
 
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awe mamaduck,
I remember when I had 2 little boys and felt very much the same way you do about my church at the time. Those boys are grown up now. Church situations change. Pray for a kindred spirit and before you know it, things will look a lot different to you.
peace and blessings,
~b
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#8 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 09:42 AM
 
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mamaduck, I sure know what it's like to feel too overwhelmed to take on another project!

It sounds to me like even though it might be an adjustment for the kids and dh, you need to find another place of worship, either as a family or just for you. You are part of the family, too, and you have spiritual needs that are deserving of loving care! We all need to get our batteries recharged somehow or we stop being able to function effectively. Have you talked to dh about this?
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#9 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have talked to dh about it. He is presbyterian pk. This church is where he feels comfortable. He said he doesn't have the energy to visit churches, meet new people, etc...

Also, you have to understand how well loved my 5 yr. old is there. The youth pastor and all the U6 teachers positively dote on him. And my 2 year too, now. And the sunday schools and VBS is spectacular. He is excited to be eligible for youth choir in the fall. He collects for food drives and clothing drives. He has friends. He goes to coffee hour and shakes hands with everyone! (If only I could be more like him!)
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#10 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 11:00 AM
 
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Mamaduck,

I TOTALLY understand your feelings of being overwhelmed. There have been times (especially in the last few months) since I have had children that I felt as if I were drowning!

BUT -- bringing your feelings to the attention of the pastor -- Interim or not -- is important. A Presbyterain Interim is trainned to handle things just like this (although there are some stinko interims out there -- true). He/she knows who/how/what to do to make sure that your concerns are addressed. Something like this is important becasue you may not be alone in your views and an new pastor needs to know this. Also, they may be looking for someone who is willing to do a contemporary service etc. and if you have not seen the Church Information Form you wouldn't know that the problem is on the front burner. Maybe they haven't even written the CIF and this can be a topic for discussion when describing the kind of gifts and skills they want in a pastor. Or maybe the pastor can put you in touch with another, older woman -- like Titus 2 talks about. She could be a sounding baord, a guide and a babysitter!

Also, I want to challenge you on the Bible Study -- personally I think age segregation in any form in the church is wrong. You can learn alot from people who are older and have been through what you are going through -- and we can learn from people who are younger too.

NO church NO organization likes change. Presbyterains, by nature have to do everyhting decently and in order (Paul said that). The vote on leaving church early sounds like sombody decided on a power play -- that shouldn't have even been up for discussion

You don't have to DO anything right now (project wise) -- but I think you do have to SAY something right now to the approprate person - Pastor. Don't worry those pastors know who is responsible for what.

Waht I am fearful of (becasue I have seen this sooooooo many times) is that you will not get any nurture which will lead to you taking a "break" which may lead to a long term break. It is hard to get back once you have stopped going for awhile.
Plus, I have been on the pastors side and you got to cut them some slack -- they are there to shepherd you -- that means taking care of the ewes who are exhausted and need to be carried for awhile -- but you can't be carried if you find a nice cool rock and curl up and don't give a baa (a bit lame I know, but it's the best I can do with out more ).

If you were in my church I would want to know your situation -- so I could try ot help. In a church that size, you can't possibly be alone. Also, it would give me an opportunity to put you in touch with an older woman -- you know, like Titus 2 talks about.

Well, since your not here -- I'm sending you a and a nuge to let those who are supose to help you -- help you. If you do that and they don't help -- that's a different story.

However, I am NOT asking YOU to change things -- just don't sit and stew and become more and more detached.
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#11 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Rev. Mother -- I am hearing that if I were in your church, you would want to hear from me? I suspect that if I were in your church, I would find you extremely approachable!

Geesh. I'm such a whiner! I've been reading through my posts and I really sound like a malcontent. Lots of people at my church seem very happy there. A big part of the problem for me is how different my background is.

rev. mom -- yeah, I don't like age segregation either. It wasn't just that though. (Well, with one group it was because I was the ONLY person there under 65! And I think they liked their little click, too, because they kept suggeting I try other groups.) It is this whole sense of uptightness that pervades every meeting! And I'm surprised at how many of the groups sit and watch video series. I could do that at home by myself!

Thank you for all your supportive suggestions. My plan is to take it easy for the summer -- maybe get the sermon schedule and go when the woman pastor is preaching and when I have to teach the kids. By the start of the fall term, I'll be ready with some sort of commitment and plan! Hey, maybe when they finally get a new pastor (no time soon -- it took them 6 months to settle on the interim) he/she will be someone I find inspiring/approachable!
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#12 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 03:58 PM
 
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To some degree I think we get out of church what we put into it (just to some degree- don't stop reading yet.). It might help to try to take notes, to pray beforehand asking God to show bless your time there. to try to find something you can glean.

Otoh, sometimes you can do all those things and just not get much back, because there isn't much there.

In those cases I read my Bible during the lesson or sermon.


I would suggest too that you try to connect with people there- find somebody to get together with, maybe have somebody home after church for lunch. Look around to see somebody you really think you could help.

Kanga
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#13 of 18 Old 06-13-2002, 05:02 PM
 
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Mamaduck --

I don't think you should commit to anything right now. Sweetie, YOU need to get fed! I think you are beating yourself up for not fixing things and don't want to make waves unless you are willing to be a part of the plan to fix it. STOP. All I am saying is let them know that you are in spiritual need. Maybe it is becasue you come from a differnt part of the Chrisitian family, but this is where you are right now -- and these pastors have a responsiblity to help you through this.

Good idea to just lay back this summer, but I'd let them know why. At the very least they should pray with and for you.
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#14 of 18 Old 06-19-2002, 10:19 PM
 
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Are you going to church or a social club? Committees? Organizations? Doesn't sound appealing to me. Personally I would rather go and sit in God's Creation and fellowship with him and a few believers. All that other stuff is just stuff. It leaves us overworked, resentful(I heard this--dh is not with me...teaching...gone...) and too busy. Is this what Jesus wants from us in our worship of him? I surely don't think so. We're bored. Why? B/c church has become the social club to meet our spiritual needs. What happened to just loving God. Throwing ourselves on Him like a lover, crawling in his lap like a child, worshipping him like we really mean it and not just lipsyncing the words.

Then you have wonderful leaders like Revmother who is in a spiritually bankrupt church. Why are so many churches bankrupt like this?

I vote stay home in the peacefulness of a Sunday morn and worship our Lord purely and passionately....until He leads you to a place that is alive.

peace, moondancer who doesn't go to Ezzo-promoting social clubs anymore and waits for the Lord's direction
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#15 of 18 Old 06-22-2002, 04:59 PM
 
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Ahhh, but you see churches bevome spiritually bankrupt when everyone begins to assume that worship is for and about them. Worship (and for that metter any ministry in the church i.e. "work") is about God. If it is "done" joyfully then it is for God's glory, if there is no joy, we first have to look to oursleves --- usually we have allowed our own ego to get involved. I hear it all the time "If I don't do 'it', then no one will " or "Well, someone has to do 'it' ) True worship, true service is joyfilled becasue it is NOT about us and when that happens we can let go and be filled.
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#16 of 18 Old 06-22-2002, 05:48 PM
 
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Ah, yes;
It ain't easy being the odd one in the group.
In a perfect world we might find a perfect church. But in this imperfect world, with all these imperfect vessels, well,......we do what we can.
Arg........somedays it is just too hard to love all these imperfect vessels. Loving God is easy...why did He have to ask us to love our neighbor as well?

~b
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#17 of 18 Old 06-24-2002, 04:25 PM
 
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Barbara,

I lift my to you. Shout a hearty AMEN!
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#18 of 18 Old 07-07-2002, 01:41 AM
 
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Hi mamaduck,

How are your weekly alone times going? I'm really glad you are planning on doing that - that's the first thing I thought about when I read your post, that perhaps you just want to be ALONE for awhile. MAN!! Sometimes I just have to be alone. Fortunately dh understands and I get it, but I can sure see where sitting in church by yourself could be time spent elsewhere!

I also understand about feeling "underfed" - but please don't go to a different church from dh. My dh and I did that and it was TERRIBLE! When we moved to a new place we decided to go somewhere where we both wanted to go, first and foremost. Now, that was a little easier to leave our former churches since we were moving, LOL! And I understand that your dh is comfortable there, but he needs to understand that you're NOT!

And mamas, I agree with you - a lot of what you get is what you put in. But we all have been there, at a place that is not feeding us - I sure have.

I also agree with the ecumenical Bible study. And, going from a non-denom church to a liturgical one can sure be different! I'm the opposite - liturgical to not, and when we came here we visited some liturgical ones. They sure felt like "home" - and that was our problem, we stopped paying attention simply b/c it WAS so familiar.

Anyway, please don't stop going to church. I know it's hard, maybe even seems impossible, but find one you like (perhaps it's the one you're at now!), understanding that there's never going to be a perfect one.

Meghan, mom to 11yo, 8yo, and 3yo 

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