Sunday, March 14, 2010

AM I IN A TOXIC CHURCH?




Am I the only one that sees some thing amiss in some churches today? Do you go weekly and never meet any one new? Do you try to meet others yourself only to be ignored? As one blogger once mentioned "I pass out my phone number to others but never get a call to have coffee or they say they will call you some time but never do."Another blogger I read on another site mentioned every one is so busy serving or involved in activities that they never seem to have time just to talk.




Granted in today's society our time is so pressed that free time is virtually non existent. It seems fellowship is an obsolete principle. So one decides to get to know people by joining a bible study group or volunteer to do services in the church. Ok that is going to get you the opportunity to meet others and share in your faith. Well that really doesn't happen frequently. I will give you some examples.




I joined the greeter group in this one church. Every one seemed to kinda stay to their selves and didn't really go around and introduce themselves to the ones that were new greeters. Actually I was ignored. So I though I would go around and introduce my self to every one in the group. I did this for three weeks only to over hear a person say to others gathered "Who is that guy going around to all of us saying Hi! I am Mickey Mouse." Some seemed to have a laugh about it . I was really hurt thus I quit that group of servers. Not easily discouraged, the wife and I decided to join a bible study group. It was led by a truly devout leader but none of the members of the group were at all friendly and kept to their own group of friends. The wife and I actually felt we were not welcome thus we quit going.




We decided to enroll in some classes over a period of time and it was the same fiasco. Every one seemed to stay in their own click groups and actually were not very friendly. If you saw them before or after a service they would completely ignore you as if they didn't know you. Now let me say every one is not like this there as we have had some contact with maybe one or two people but it is rather only in passing that they will speak. Perhaps it is the way churches operate now but wasn't like that in the past when we attended churches years back. We always gained some friends that kept in contact. Perhaps it is an age thing. This church seems to have very few older folks our age ( 65) as it appears to be younger oriented.




Perhaps it is a social/ economic situation. This church seems to be well heeled and operates on an expensive budget that only members with substantial incomes can afford to tithe properly can support. Being retired now and with high medical bills, the income is rather limited so I might not fit in considering. Being a believer of most of the spiritual gifts, I do practice what I call the involuntary poverty gift so we may not live in the best part of town. Perhaps that is it.




Considering the wife really enjoys all the bells, flashing lights, and the rocking music this church offers, I go along with her desires to attend this church but I am really bothered when she is hurt or ignored by those that she tries to meet. I really hope some day she sees the light and desires to move on to a more friendly church filled with the Holy Spirit and practices fellowship as dictated in scriptures.




To be honest I get more fellowship in sharing my faith on blog sites such as Abundant Living, Fire and Grace, Kingdom Bloggers, and other sites than I do at the church I now attend. That is sad and not following one of the things God has led me to do. How ever, I have met many great people by sharing my faith on the Internet blog sites and will continue to share my faith with you as long as the Lords words can make a difference in your life through my testimonials and articles.

What have your experiences been at some churches?






20 comments:

ATHENS said...

God put you in my life!

RCUBEs said...

It is sad, isn't it...To see this continuing trend...I noticed that, too. That there seems to be a click. We have home fellowship groups to make everyone sort of know each other. But it's sad for me, that whoever belongs to one particular group is the one that seems to just know each other well, and seems cold with others. It's sad that they forget it's should be about Christ we are serving, not ourselves.

How can Christians truly love others when in reality, they don't quite seem to love each other well? You brought up a good point. We will all answer to the Lord in His time. Blessings to you.

photogr said...

Bev:

Thank you. I feel that is what the Lord wants me to do. Have a place where ones with out close ties to a church a place to go where they can have fellowship even if it is across the miles or oceans.

As long as two or more can gather be it local or on the Internet, it can be considered a Body of Christ.

photogr said...

RCUBEs:

To be honest, I find more love and fellowship with others on the blogs than I do recently in a brick and mortar church. Why is it that way? I really do not understand.

Tracy said...

Gee Larry I feel so many things as I read this.

I'm so sad and sorry that you and your wife have experienced poor treatment in church. I can honestly imagine each thing you've described; I've had similar experiences myself.

The thing is, the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me that people are sinners. That I'm a sinner. Sinners, even redeemed ones, just don't always act right. To be candid, I have to make myself be friendly because I'm rather shy. I have to make myself go up to people and say hello and search my brain for things to say or questions to ask, but I do it. I've noticed it takes me a long time before I become comfortable with people. I've moved a bit for work, plus I've been around a lot of years, so I've been in a lot of churches. I've noticed that it typically takes me 3 years before I'm comfortable and feel like I've made friends in church.

On a positive note - I'm delighted that you feel friendship and love among Christian bloggers. That's been my experience as well. I think part of that is because we're all so wonderful -ha! Seriously, I think it's because writing, by it's nature, allows us to open our hearts in ways that face to face interactions don't.

ATHENS said...

As long as the Holy Spirit is there, I am satisfied to just sit in the balcony. Being divorced is a bummer when it comes to relating to anyone in the church, except other divorced people, and then I feel like I'm at match.com!lol

eaglegirl said...

I feel you pain, as you know from having shared with you at times what has happened to me and at the same church you go to.
I a angry about how you were treated by the greeters group, and I would like to give them a piece of my mind. It is just not right.
Wait you hear about this one. I had dragged myself to church in spite of feeling ill and was glad that the music was at the end that day. I told my husband that my head hurt so bad from the music that I had to leave.
Well, as we were leaving a woman who I look up to and has actually been friendly to me did something quite hurtful.
My husband and I were waiting for the elevator and she and someone else were in a hurry going somewhere.
I said 'hi' and then she said ' hi, how are you' as I was about to answer that I had to leave early she just dashed off.
Gosh, why ask how someone is if you are not even going to stick around to hear the. Guess she thought I would say the usual answer of 'o.k.'
I do like a number of things about the place and try to be positive and not be easily offended, but these things keep happening to me- over and over.
Often because of chronic illness I only attend about once a month. Just this past weekend I went up for prayer and got more than I bargained for. People just don't get it, just because the Lord shows them one word does not mean they run with it.
This person told me what one of my illnesses was caused by and what medicine I should take for it. And I knew she was wrong, I've had it for 15 years and know a lot about it. I she meant well, but that is Not what prayer people are supposed to do.
I am actually on the prayer team, but have not been there for about 2-3 months. Not one, not one person called me to see how I was.
Back to what I said, we are told on prayer team not to counsel people, but this went waaaay beyond that. The other person heard something from the Lord, asked me about it and I said yes that was true. And then she just prayed for me like she was supposed to do. I did get prayer for what I went up for at least.
This is what happens when people don't listen to training or they just don't care. There have been times I have veered off a little myself. We need to have discernment from the Lord. I think people are so excited that God actually showed them something, but they don't know what to do with it.
I have to do this in two parts, its too long for google.

eaglegirl said...

Part Two
I may have gotten some off course here, but maybe not.
My spiritual and emotional support has also been mostly from the net.
I have been blessed find a few Christian support groups for the chronically ill (and yes they do believe in healing) I get daily devotionals that are often my spiritual sustenence. And I have made a few close friends and a number of aquantinces. These people understand what I am going through and have also mostly been neglected by their church and most friends have given up on them.
It has also been a blessing for me to be able to minister to others by using my giftings in intercession and the gifts of the Spirit I have been blessed with.
So, God has made a way where there seems to be no way.
I also think where a church is sort of Spirit filled and everyone who is prayed for is felt to be healed people like me just don't fit in. And I am very, very sorry to say that people in the in crowd who are ill get cared for.
'Have you done this, tried that?'
I do believe that God does heal today, but for the most part it has not happened for me.
And yes, I have gone through the prescribed prayer for generational curses, repented of this and that,had any demononic stuff prayed for, etc, etc. SO, I guess I am also seen as a failure of all that. Or that I don't have enough faith. Lazarus was dead, he had not faith and was healed, the demoniac was healed.
Most of the time Jesus 'just healed people' and that was that. Yes, sometimes he used mud etc.
Boy, you have got me going. If I say much more I will just cry.
But I know matter how man treats me my God loves me.

photogr said...

Tracy:

Two years is about right for church members and newbies to fit in at a church according to my brother in law who is an ordained minister in Florida. He doesn't like that principlle but it seems the norm in a few cases.

Most of my experience with other churches came from the southern states and they do seem to be friendlier as well as including you quicker in their activities. As a matter of fact some were too quick. Yes I went to a couple toxic churches there too. Needless to say I didn't go back.

photogr said...

Bev:

I have never been divorced so I am not too familiar with match.com in the churches but I am sure it does happen frequently.

That is sad about the bummer part. Perhaps churches really don't know how to handle divorced or widowed people properly.I don't have any idea. Perhaps you could start a group in your church.

photogr said...

Eaglegirl:

I have read from an author on the Trinity that suffering builds character. If that is the case, then you have a Godly amount of character.

It was good that you got what bothers you out and out of your system by sharing your frustrations. This is what I wanted to build this blog up for. A place where one can share and vent as well as have a place to call home when their other home church fails them.

As you know I will always pray for you and keep in touch even when I do not hear from you. When I was a manager in the retail industry, I always made time to talk to all ( average 250 plus) my employees and listen when they needed some one to talk to no matter how busy I was or hurried. Some days I would spend a whole week just talking to my employees. That is the way it should be in the church. If it is not, then they have too much to do and the church should have people in place to cover this.

Take care. I know it is frustrating but I care.

Deborah Ann said...

Maybe God is allowing you to feel shunned over and over for a reason. Some people don't know how to be a friend, until someone shows them. Maybe you will be the answer to their prayers.

David said...

OK, I have had enough!

If we are Christian, we need to step to the plate and love those around us. On THEIR TERMS, not ours. Jesus did not say go into all the world and act like people don't exist and love them if you like them.

The Bible says in the last days that love will grow cold. We can have all the excuses about culture, busy-ness and jobs, families, kids whatever - that may be the reason.

Small groups - greeters - grocery store. We are God's representatives. How is it that we should lay our lives down for another, and yet we can't engage in simple friendship.

There are lots of dynamics to relationship, but time is the commodity of relationship - no time = no relationship.

Deborah - I'm going to agree with you that we do have times of loneliness - but I can't discount the bad behavior of the others.

The answer is asking God who He wants us to engage with, and do it.

Sadly, but gratefully I get calls from a couple of my favorite bloggers and online friends. And no one from my last 3 churches.

You're a good man Larry. It's an honor to have you as one of my online friends. You wanna talk - email, and I'll give you my phone.

And Carol - you invite me out there and I might just stand up on Sunday morning and do a little teachin in the sanctuary.

photogr said...

Deborah Ann:

Thanks for dropping by. Me being an answer to their prayers? Maybe and maybe not. For some reason this church does have socio/ecomonic divides.

I have seen a man ( that is now a friend) in this church that had a checkerd past and was saved in God's grace, openly professes faith,and volunteers for the Food Kitchen down town to cook for the homeless. Yet no one embraces him yet. Why is that?

photogr said...

David:

I am honored that you consider me one of your on line friends. The feeling is mutual. Will do on your invitation. Thanks but I allready have a phone.

I had been in public relations for many years and was able to related to all classes of people yet I treated them as my equal no matter what their social/economic class was so I do know how others should act in situations. It is easy for me to sense what others think or by the way they act where their true feelings are.

I also know that people will be suspicious of a person that walks up to them and says hello but in a church, it should be the norm or they should be doing that if they are the regulars and do not recognize others. However, in a mega church, that may be difficult but not impossible.

As I have understood scriptures, fellowship,sharing your faith ,caring for the needy,tending to the ill, and an out pouring of love for your brothers and sisters is mandated by the scriptures in Paul's letters to the churches. As I write this the Beetles song "Love Is All You Need" keeps zooming through my head.

My next project is to wear a top hat and tails to church to see if I get noticed.

eaglegirl said...

You have to wear the top hat and tails to Saturday night church so I can see it !

eaglegirl said...

You have to wear the top hat and tails to Saturday night church so I can see it !

photogr said...

Eaglegirl:

Will do.

Jack Foster said...

Hey Photogr! It seems to me that the more bells and whistles a church has the less "hellos and well wishes" it has. I belongs to a mega-church for 3 years and never really got to know anyone (99% my own fault) Then I joined a very small bible church. I was there for seven years and I have never felt so loved in all my life! I've been gone for about a year and I'm still being loved by them. Because of my mother-in-laws cancer we had to move last year. We are now in a mid-sized bells and no whistles church. I'm finallf getting close to a few people.
You have been an encouragement to me and I'm glad that you have found some Godly fellowship blogging. God bless you.

photogr said...

Thanks Jack.I appreciate that but I only speak what I am led to speak or as I perceive what needs to be spoken.

Right now the hot topic is "lacking fellowship in churches". Yes the fellowship in mega churches is difficult if not impossible to me.

If it is an established mega church with long term members, a new member really has difficulty fitting in to the click groups. Living in the south for many years, I never experienced this condition in most churches I and my wife attended or in the smaller churches up here.

For some reason the Lord led us to this church but I don't have a clue what or how he wants me to do any thing in it. Perhaps he will let me know in due time.