General chatter - Attending religious services




View Full Version : Attending religious services


Jen415
04-20-2009, 09:12 AM
NOTE: I am posting this here (rather than on the faith based section) so I can get a good representation of all 3FCers and not just Christians. I am NOT wanting to start an argument about any particular religion, denomination or belief.

For reasons that I won't go into on here, I have not attended a worship service in an actual building for a very long time. However, my faith is still important to me, and I spend time connecting with God in many other ways. I've been getting a lot of condemnation lately from family and friends for my non-attendance.

Question: How important is attending religious services? Can someone not go to a house of worship and still have close communion with God? Why or why not?


TamiL
04-20-2009, 09:55 AM
I have not been inside a church since my first wedding in 1983 much to my mom's annoyance. And that church wasn't even of the faith that I was semi raised in. My mom was a true believer in the Lutheran Church and my dad was a true Atheist. Kind of confusing for a child.

I believe that you can worship or pray to God if that is what your heart desires from anywhere. While church communities are a wonderful outlet for some they aren't needed by others. In my opinion all the church wants is your money. Now this is just my opinion.

If God were the truly all powerful savior that people profess him (or her) to be, then I can't imagine that he(she) would care where you did your communion.

Rosinante
04-20-2009, 10:29 AM
You certainly can have a close communion with God but I see church attendance as having 2 purposes. I'm thinking as I write, so it might end up more than 2!

A relationship with God isn't just about how you feel, there are facts about God, and you can't just know them, you have to learn them. Of course that could be from a book, not just from a church service.
Being a person of faith can sometimes be very lonely, so attending church can help you feel fellowship with others. Of course, you can find a church full or horrid people you wouldn't want to mix with!
I think the big one for me is: in Christianity (and that's the only one I can speak for) part of faith is being unashamed about it, so church attendance is a real statement of commitment to God in a world that mostly doesn't give two hoots. i.e. people see us going into services.

My church costs £450 pounds a week to run (gas, electricity, insurance etc). My congregation and I between us can afford to contribute £80 a week, so we are heavily subsidized by other churches.


bindersbee
04-20-2009, 10:37 AM
Of course you can still connect with God etc. on your own. One does not need religious services to do that. You CAN be a good and spiritual person without a specific church or set of religious principles that have been set up by a group.

HOWEVER, you are also limited in your growth in some ways because you do not have the benefit of the insight of others to learn from. I suppose that depends on how worship services are set up too. In the faith I attend we don't have a paid clergy- the membership provides the lessons etc. so I have the benefit of hearing about the experiences and spiritual insights of many other people. They often have life experiences that are much different than mine so I am able to gain perspective from them I could never have had if left to my own devices.

I know you can also see bad examples of people failing to live their faith at church but I rarely let that bother me. Anyone who is honestly striving to be a better person will at times be a hypocrite. We all fall down and come up short of the mark. The only people who can never be a hypocrite are those who set the bar for their own acceptable personal conduct so low that it would be extremely difficult to fail to clear it. We can learn from both the good and failures of others.

So, no. It isn't necessary to subscribe to a religion or study group etc. to grow spiritually but your growth will be different. Sort of like it isn't necessary to have a support group like 3FC to lose weight- but it helps and gives us a chance to learn from and be inspired by others.

junebug41
04-20-2009, 10:39 AM
I absolutely believe that relationships with God are so personal that being in a place of worship is neither required or necessary to that relationship.

However, in my personal experience, there is a certain meditation that is beneficial to me by my church attendance. For me, the community aspect of services (not just worship either, but community service) helps me relate my spirituality beyond myself. That's what I get from it.

However, in going through my past, I can recall many spiritual and Godly experiences that didn't happen anywhere near a church, so I personally believe it can be very fulfilling as well :)

LittleMoonRabbit
04-20-2009, 11:11 AM
Jen415-

I am very much like you. I have a very strong faith in God, and I stopped attending church services as well.

I just found that organized religion doesn't work for me. Some people need it, love it, thrive on it- it helps them to have that place to go, and those rules to follow, and those prayers to say... because it gives them direction. So for those people, attending a religious service is very important to them because it gives them much needed structure.

I on the other hand, found it restrictive. I found that when I went, my brain switched to autopilot. I said the prayers and didn't even think about what was coming out of my mouth. I did the kneeling and the standing out of habit. The sermons some times would upset me, because I didn't agree with what the priest had to say. I decided going to the services was actually being counter productive, and separating me from God. It was distracting and frustrating, not uplifting and inspiring. Imagine that!

Maybe this sounds weird, but I think you can apply many of the same things that we talk about with dieting to the way we approach our faith. Some things work well for some people. Those same plans may not work well for other people. Why? because we are all different, we are all unique... and I believe God made us that way for a reason. That's one of the many reasons I think there are so many different religions and sects to begin with. I think what is important is finding what works for YOU, to bring YOU closer to God. As long as what you are doing helps to strengthen that relationship, I say just continue doing what works, and don't worry about what other people say/think. Your relationship with God is between no one else but the two of you.

Just my opinion, anyways.

Rosinante
04-20-2009, 11:17 AM
So, no. It isn't necessary to subscribe to a religion or study group etc. to grow spiritually but your growth will be different. Sort of like it isn't necessary to have a support group like 3FC to lose weight- but it helps and gives us a chance to learn from and be inspired by others.


I like it!

midwife
04-20-2009, 11:23 AM
I share Junebug's and Little Moon's feelings on this. I was raised in a certain religion and am often stunned by some of the teachings and philosophies these days (and not in a good way!). DH was raised in a very different church, one that is welcoming to all & nonjudgmental, and full of people who, while very human and authentic, are also very kind and live the way they believe Christians should live. My faith has evolved in a very powerful way through my relationship with my in-laws, especially my mil who is a minister in the church and one of the most incredible women I have ever had the honor to know. She has shown me what it looks like to walk as a woman of God....

IMO, God is so much bigger than a church. I believe God allows us to know Him/Her in a way that makes sense to us where we are in our cultures and our lives. I feel God's presence everyday.

I agree that the community provided by a church family can be a wonderful thing, but that is not necessary for my relationship with God.

willow650
04-20-2009, 11:31 AM
Well, the bible says to fellowship with other believers, so I believe that means going to a bible believing church. To believe in the one true God, means believing His word, God does not change, His word does not change. I think instead of seeking the opinion of others, you need to seek God's will, the will of your Father, seek a closer relationship to His Son. I know for me, I find my answers studying the books of the bible after Jesus's Resurrection, to me, that's were I learned what it meant to be a true Christian, and how to live like one. I am still very much a work in progress

willow650
04-20-2009, 11:37 AM
Jen415-

I am very much like you. I have a very strong faith in God, and I stopped attending church services as well.

I just found that organized religion doesn't work for me. Some people need it, love it, thrive on it- it helps them to have that place to go, and those rules to follow, and those prayers to say... because it gives them direction. So for those people, attending a religious service is very important to them because it gives them much needed structure.

I on the other hand, found it restrictive. I found that when I went, my brain switched to autopilot. I said the prayers and didn't even think about what was coming out of my mouth. I did the kneeling and the standing out of habit. The sermons some times would upset me, because I didn't agree with what the priest had to say. I decided going to the services was actually being counter productive, and separating me from God. It was distracting and frustrating, not uplifting and inspiring. Imagine that!



Just my opinion, anyways.

I attend a church and there is no 'restrictions' we are not religious, we focus on building our on personal relationship with Christ, there is no structure, so not all denominations are like that.

JulieJ08
04-20-2009, 11:45 AM
Even within a religion, there are different styles of church. I haven't been to church for probably more than a decade, but I am considering going back, but to a liturgical style that I think will lead me in a way that other styles didn't.

LittleMoonRabbit
04-20-2009, 12:12 PM
I attend a church and there is no 'restrictions' we are not religious, we focus on building our on personal relationship with Christ, there is no structure, so not all denominations are like that.

Willow, I agree that different denominations are unique... and I have not tried them all. But I have been to many different churches within my family's particular religious denomination, and I have attended services within other denominations. I could still never find anything that inspired me within 4 church walls. I have taken a bible study class and a religious philosophy class outside of church (through my college when I was still in school) and I have found other ways to seek enlightenment. I am glad you feel your church isn't like that, but then again, it could be all about perception- I could attend your church and still find myself being restricted. It's all about the unique experience that each and every one of us will have.

But I am very happy for you that you have found a place that you can feel great about going to, that you feel safe, and loved, and enlightened there. :hug: Keep doing what works for you!

Jen415
04-20-2009, 12:15 PM
Thanks for the posts so far. Just a little more about me: I grew up in the church, and I have a seminary education, so I have studied the Bible quite a bit in my time....so this is not my first rodeo! LOL

I was a church employee for quite a while, and was so badly burned by the experience that I haven't been back anywhere. Basically....the church (the people) failed me when I needed them most, and haven't wanted to subject myself to it again for fear of the same thing.

LittleMoonRabbit
04-20-2009, 12:26 PM
Jen,

I guess I should ask- do you WANT to go back? Is it only your fear that is keeping you from going again?

I can understand the fear of getting hurt again. But, just because one group of people did that to you, doesn't mean everyone will. There are good people and bad people and people all in between of every gender, shape, size, color, religious belief and every other variation I can think of. Don't let the bad apples scare you away from the good ones. If you want to go back to church, then by all means, don't let those people from your past keep you from going!

Again, you gotta do what you think is best for your relationship with God.

Bear
04-20-2009, 12:30 PM
I don't think attending religious services is important at all. And I still think you can have a connection with your God whether you do it or not. In fact, I think it'd be stronger if you don't go. I'm always changing my opinions on religion. But I think if you're taught to think for yourself and formulate your own opinions on what you believe, you'll come out better. Just my opinion though haha, nothing's right or wrong.

So I'm not fond of someone standing up in front of me and teaching me lessons. Things I should believe because they say so? I never thought humans should interpret a God to that level haha. But it makes other people feel good, and they believe different from me, so it's all good. Whatever makes someone feel the most at peace really, as that's what I always thought religion was supposed to do.

Tacklenurse
04-20-2009, 12:58 PM
If you asked 25 people what "church" means to them, you would get 25 different answers. Church is a place, but it is so much more than that. It is a body of believers who support each other. It is a body of givers who give so others might find God. It is a body of people who fellowship with one another. It is so much more than a building.

Anyone can pray to God from anywhere: a lake, a toilet, in front of a computer screen, a mountain top.....but we as Christians are asked to serve as Jesus did. God wants a loving, caring, personal relationship with you. He doesn't want to hear from you only when you need Him. He wants to know you. What better place than church.

ICUwishing
04-20-2009, 01:04 PM
Hi, Jen!

Lots of insightful responses into a very personal issue. I'm very uncomfortable in any sort of mass setting where a bunch of people are all saying or doing the same thing - even if it's as harmless as singing a hymn or reciting a prayer. I don't think being in a church is going to do me much good if all I can think about is how badly I want out!

I want my son (9) to be educated about the main faiths that are around him, so we're periodically attending a church that his best friend goes to (his mom is the children's choir director and a good friend of mine). It's a very inclusive denomination, so he's getting to meet members from all walks of life. He's joined the choir, and he's getting the basics, but I plan on taking him to as many different places as I can. After all, the reality is "Everybody is somebody else's heathen", and we all gotta get along.

Give me a walk alone in the woods - much more at home with the divine there than in any human creation. :)

LittleMoonRabbit
04-20-2009, 01:15 PM
Give me a walk alone in the woods - much more at home with the divine there than in any human creation. :)

Couldn't agree more on this one. Nothing around but God's creation. No human influence, no sounds but the sounds of nature and my own heartbeat. It's in those moments when I feel most connected.

Jen415
04-20-2009, 02:15 PM
Rabbit: I've been toying with the possibility of attending somewhere, but my views are so varied I sincerely doubt I will find a place that would accept me where I am this minute. In my experience, a lot of bodies of believers want to change people's beliefs into exactly as they believe, because to NOT believe exactly the way they do is WRONG. I'm open to God changing me to please Him, not to please others. In the end, it is about MY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with God.

ICUwishing: I laughed at your "everybody is somebody's heathen" remark! :)

Rosinante
04-20-2009, 05:53 PM
Hey Jen! If only you could commute this far, you'd be welcome in our church every Sunday!

willow650
04-20-2009, 06:18 PM
Rabbit: I've been toying with the possibility of attending somewhere, but my views are so varied I sincerely doubt I will find a place that would accept me where I am this minute. In my experience, a lot of bodies of believers want to change people's beliefs into exactly as they believe, because to NOT believe exactly the way they do is WRONG. I'm open to God changing me to please Him, not to please others. In the end, it is about MY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with God.

ICUwishing: I laughed at your "everybody is somebody's heathen" remark! :)

Im sure you can find the right place for you, a place that follows your beliefs. Just make sure you beliefs are bible based, I believe one 100% in personal relationship with Christ. Christ as my savior and God my Father. My church believes it to, not 'religion' I am Southern Baptist, I was raised Methodist, husband was raised Independent Baptist, IB is to legalistic for us and Methodist just didn't fit what I believed either (for example they believe in just sprinkling for baptism, I believe in submersion) If you find a church, read their mission statement. I know you can find a church home that fits you. Continue to pray for God's leading on where you should go.

mayness
04-20-2009, 07:06 PM
I'm a Christan who no longer attends church, and I don't think it hurts my relationship with God, it just takes more dedication without the weekly "reminder" to set me straight if I wander off in some direction.

I found the church that was perfect for me... ok, my mom found it, when I was 4 years old. :) But nothing else has ever compared, and I always ended up coming back to it. So when I moved away 9 months ago, I stopped attending church.

The trouble is, I don't like churches that are overly religious or liturgical. I also like a calm, conservative church -- lots of dancing and clapping and stuff freaks me out, as do pastors who get too excited during their sermons. But most of all, I like a very intellectual church -- if I don't come out of a sermon knowing some key historical facts and new Greek words, and maybe a new psychological or ethical theory, I don't feel like it was worthwhile. :D

willow650
04-20-2009, 07:34 PM
if I don't come out of a sermon knowing some key historical facts and new Greek words, and maybe a new psychological or ethical theory, I don't feel like it was worthwhile. :D

Too bad you don't live here where I do, you would love my Pastor Hal. I never knew any Greek or Hebrew words till this pastor I have now....lol

harrismm
04-20-2009, 09:56 PM
I dont attend.I grew up in a church.I am agnostic.This does not go over well with my mother at all.My boys attend church services.And I will let them decide when they are 18 what is best for them and I will support them in any decision they make.

nelie
04-20-2009, 10:24 PM
There is no religion that could capture my beliefs or any religious service that would completely. I think group religious services provide a service more than just 'worshiping'. They are an important social network for many people and if you happen to be with others who share your beliefs, then I can see a benefit.

I went to a religious ceremony recently and it has been many years since I have. Even though the beliefs aren't mine, I enjoyed certain aspects of it including the embracing of traditions, the formality and the coming together with others to celebrate. I've even known quite a few people who have joined a religion, not because it is what they believe but because they enjoy certain aspects.

And then on the opposite side, you have those who have their beliefs and don't feel a need to attend any type of religious services. I don't feel it is a necessity and really feel no need for it, even if there was a religion that did happen to align with my beliefs.

EZMONEY
04-21-2009, 12:47 AM
......
Question: How important is attending religious services? Can someone [B]not go to a house of worship and still have close communion with God? Why or why not?

:) First, my dear friend, I would like to answer your question with some scripture, if you don't mind :hug:

1 Corinthians 2Paul Preaches Wisdom

1Dear brothers and sisters, F6 when I first came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. F7 2For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. 3I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. 5I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.

6Yet when I am among mature Christians, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, and not the kind that appeals to the rulers of this world, who are being brought to nothing. 7No, the wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God, F8 which was hidden in former times, though he made it for our benefit before the world began. 8But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would never have crucified our glorious Lord. 9That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him." F9

10But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God's deep secrets. 11No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. 12And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world's spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 13When we tell you this,
we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. F10 14But people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. 15We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can't understand us at all. 16How could they? For,

"Who can know what the Lord is thinking?
Who can give him counsel?" F11

But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

:) And 2nd I would like to tell you why I go to church almost every Sunday or Saturday night (if Angie and I have Sunday plans to take a walk with the mutts or sleep in or "whatever" :))

I go to church almost every Sunday because of what Jesus Christ did for me.

I go because I have been blessed with such a wonderful opportunity to do so being born in the USA....a gift given to me because of our TROOPS!

I go because I learn a little bit more each time the truth of His WORD.

I go because my week just seems to be a bit better when I do.

I go because I love listening to our Pastor's sermon as I hold my wife's hand.

I go because I love to give the kids around my pew baseball cards! That make a lot of noise when un-wrapped! ;)

I go because it was "HOME" when I suffered greatly through a divorce many years ago.

I go because I am feed The Body and The Blood every week.

I go because my growth is through His WORD.

I see God in the mountains...in the sea...in the forests...in my wife...my children...

But I see my God in my church...in the things we do as a congregation...the blessings we have shared with others over the 25+ years I have been there...the buildings we have built...the classrooms we built and taught our children...

I see God's work in every tithe I give willingly....

My church does not need me....

I see God in the classes of yoga my wife teaches at church....

Each and every week I attend I pray before I leave that He brings me back.

Jesus Christ gave His life for everyone...but not everyone will accept this free and wonderful gift. As I grow older I realize and understand how important the gift of free will He gave us is.

I will GUARANTEE you this my friend ~

The only way to become close to God is through His WORD. You can find it outside of church...but it is difficult.

No one ever got to heaven by going to church!

To some it's a crutch...for me it's my ROCK!

God doesn't need you...churches don't need you....they don't need your money....they don't need you!

However...They WANT you! They LOVE you!

Churches are full of sinners...I am sorry you had a bad experience...but churches...sinners...are NOT your GOD!

When and if you ever have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ you will KNOW IT!!! It won't be a secret...you won't be wondering...and quite frankly my dear...you won't give a damn (Gone With The Wind ;)) about what your relatives have to say :carrot:

You know you can PM me anytime if you feel the need :hug:

Bumbleberry
04-21-2009, 01:47 AM
I am Catholic and I believe that you ought to worship God in His "house" -- that said, I don't attend services for personal reasons and I believe that you can and should visit and talk with God everywhere. Jesus is always with you.

Bumbleberry
04-21-2009, 01:48 AM
:) First, my dear friend, I would like to answer your question with some scripture, if you don't mind :hug:

1 Corinthians 2Paul Preaches Wisdom

1Dear brothers and sisters, F6 when I first came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. F7 2For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. 3I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. 5I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.

6Yet when I am among mature Christians, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, and not the kind that appeals to the rulers of this world, who are being brought to nothing. 7No, the wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God, F8 which was hidden in former times, though he made it for our benefit before the world began. 8But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would never have crucified our glorious Lord. 9That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him." F9

10But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God's deep secrets. 11No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. 12And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world's spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 13When we tell you this,
we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. F10 14But people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. 15We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can't understand us at all. 16How could they? For,

"Who can know what the Lord is thinking?
Who can give him counsel?" F11

But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

:) And 2nd I would like to tell you why I go to church almost every Sunday or Saturday night (if Angie and I have Sunday plans to take a walk with the mutts or sleep in or "whatever" :))

I go to church almost every Sunday because of what Jesus Christ did for me.

I go because I have been blessed with such a wonderful opportunity to do so being born in the USA....a gift given to me because of our TROOPS!

I go because I learn a little bit more each time the truth of His WORD.

I go because my week just seems to be a bit better when I do.

I go because I love listening to our Pastor's sermon as I hold my wife's hand.

I go because I love to give the kids around my pew baseball cards! That make a lot of noise when un-wrapped! ;)

I go because it was "HOME" when I suffered greatly through a divorce many years ago.

I go because I am feed The Body and The Blood every week.

I go because my growth is through His WORD.

I see God in the mountains...in the sea...in the forests...in my wife...my children...

But I see my God in my church...in the things we do as a congregation...the blessings we have shared with others over the 25+ years I have been there...the buildings we have built...the classrooms we built and taught our children...

I see God's work in every tithe I give willingly....

My church does not need me....

I see God in the classes of yoga my wife teaches at church....

Each and every week I attend I pray before I leave that He brings me back.

Jesus Christ gave His life for everyone...but not everyone will accept this free and wonderful gift. As I grow older I realize and understand how important the gift of free will He gave us is.

I will GUARANTEE you this my friend ~

The only way to become close to God is through His WORD. You can find it outside of church...but it is difficult.

No one ever got to heaven by going to church!

To some it's a crutch...for me it's my ROCK!

God doesn't need you...churches don't need you....they don't need your money....they don't need you!

However...They WANT you! They LOVE you!

Churches are full of sinners...I am sorry you had a bad experience...but churches...sinners...are NOT your GOD!

When and if you ever have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ you will KNOW IT!!! It won't be a secret...you won't be wondering...and quite frankly my dear...you won't give a damn (Gone With The Wind ;)) about what your relatives have to say :carrot:

You know you can PM me anytime if you feel the need :hug:


I love this post!

Jen415
04-21-2009, 08:12 AM
Thanks to everyone for their very thoughtful posts. Honestly, I've learned nothing new, but I have been reminded of a few things I had forgotten.

Thanks.

lizziep
04-21-2009, 01:27 PM
I just want to throw in a different perspective here. I also quit going to church because of the people at the church. I had a very terrible, traumatic experience with the church that I went to. And I've never been back.
It was a good experience for me though, to me it seems that belonging to a church is more about belonging to a community, then about God. I see it as a place for socializing, for group learning, for talking and getting new ideas, I see it as a way to serve the place you live in. And those things can be great, and make you a well rounded person, they can impact your life greatly.
But are the necessary to your relationship to God? I don't think so.

But I'm not Christian, so I really can't say. I wouldn't be a part of any organized religion because the "group mentality" scares me. I feel much more in touch with god in nature, or just meditating then I ever did inside a church.