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Attending religious services

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Old 04-20-2009, 10:12 AM   #1
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Default Attending religious services

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?
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:29 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:37 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:39 AM   #5
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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
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:11 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bindersbee View Post

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!
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:23 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:31 PM   #9
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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
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleMoonRabbit View Post
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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:45 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willow650 View Post
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. Keep doing what works for you!
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:15 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:26 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:30 PM   #15
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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.
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