We just don't feel connected with this church

Question:

We have attended our current congregation for several years. Good sound teaching, but we don't feel a connection with anyone. My wife has wanted to try other congregations, but I don't like to change. Recently she has been ill and not felt like attending for over a month, and no one even asked about her. I am thinking it's time we move on. We aren't mad at anyone, we just aren't being edified, and we aren't edifying others. Should we move on, and how do we do that without hurting anyone?


Answer:

I am going to give a couple scenarios and resolutions to your problem, as I do not know enough to truly make a decent judgment, but I can give advice on how to make the right choices with issues I have seen in most churches I have attended.

Leaving Right After Services

I have seen people leave once the "amen" is said for the closing prayer. You can hear the door shutting in the back because they are gone already. I am not saying this is you, but a part of the problem in churches is people do not want to communicate with one another. They have punched their card, and they are out the door. If they truly wanted to have fellowship and cared for their brothers and sisters in Christ, they would stay, talk and get to know each other. I even had someone complain to me that they left the church they were going to because no one talked to them; yet, they openly admitted they were the first ones out the door and did not talk to anyone themselves.

Are you openly staying around for an extra 15 to 20 minutes to build the relationships you desire and approaching people yourself?

Making an Effort to Solve the Problem

If there is a need to improve the relationships with other Christians, then the responsibility falls upon the person who realizes it! We can all point fingers at who should be doing better. But if I am doing nothing, am I helping the problem or making it worse?

There is a lady in our current congregation who invites all the women in the congregation together at a nearby restaurant once a month. Another couple held a Bible study video series and dinner at their house for a couple months. My wife and I are doing our best to have a potluck at our house once a month. These times are given as opportunity for others, not just for us. It allows time to build relationships and give opportunity to meet outside of just Sunday or Bible study during the week.

That being said, some people are sticklers that you must attend every event, potluck, home Bible study, etc. It is at people's convenience that they show up. We do not want to make it obligatory to show up, we want people to come of their own accord and not have it as a burden. If we get one person, or the whole church shows up, awesome! But as long as one person does, we have time to build that relationship with that person.

Don't wait for an opportunity to smack you in the face, but make an opportunity to grow closer (Galatians 6:7-10). If you have a roof and able to afford to pay for two extra people at your dinner table during the week, there is your opportunity to grow closer. Have a game night or desert night. It doesn't have to be about the Bible. But if Christians do not spend time together, then we will not truly know one another. 

Have you and your wife made an effort to solve the problem outside of the assembly?

No One Notices

Because your wife is ill, it is an opportunity to ask for prayers in the announcements. When people ask what is wrong, just say she is not feeling well as of late, then proceed to ask a few of the ladies to give her a call and emphasize how much it would mean to you if they did. Or ask them to send a card and let them know she really needs the encouragement. If they do call, it will be a chance for your wife to build a relationship with the other ladies.

If someone has a habit of missing services for work, or simply doesn't go; after a while no one asks because it is now the expectation that he will not be there. In every church you go to, there will be people who choose their work, sleeping in, or make other excuses as to why they did not show up Sunday. You can see the effects in these people lives because spiritually their basically dead, having loved the things of the world more than God.

Has your wife attending infrequently for a long while? Have you asked the ladies in the church to call your wife, to send a word of encouragement, or ask them to have her out to lunch?

My Attitude as a Christian

One of the most gut-wrenching feelings of dislike I have toward people who go to the Lord's church is when people show a lack of compassion and love for each other. You will meet those, who call themselves Christians, who seem like death warmed over. At times you will ask yourself why are they even claiming to be Christian? Their personality is appalling, their attitude is no better than the Grinch, and walking around them is like walking on eggshells because they are always in a bad mood. They spread this misery to others and put down others to make them feel like they do. As the old saying goes: "misery loves company."

The reason I share this is: One can be "faithfully" going to church but be the problem because of his attitude. People who do this are no better than a non-believer because they are consumed with themselves. I have seen people destroy God's work simply by how they present themselves. When approaching others and doing the right thing, one must truly be a Christian. I can do it grudgingly, grumpily and distastefully, or I can do it in a willingly, loving manner while serving my Lord. It is the same idea as how I give. I could grudgingly give to the Lord, but the Lord requires a cheerful giver. Which will I choose to do today? (II Corinthians 9:5-7).

How are you presenting yourself when you are meeting with other Christians?

When do you know it is time to move on?

If you and your wife have tried all the avenues mentioned, and the church is still like the church in Ephesus, where they are a well-oiled machine, but they are just a machine with no warmth or love (Revelation 2:1-5), then it is it time to move on. Many churches suffer from this blight and sickness. They have the right doctrine and doing the right things, but they have left their first love for Christ. Without love, all is meaningless (I Corinthians 13:1-3). My encouragement to you is to talk with your wife. Get her out of her depression by telling her, "Let us do what is right in God's eyes and do our best. We can try out all these avenues and help to solve the problem, instead of being a part of the problem."

Let her know that if nothing changes, and spiritually you both keep spiraling downward, then you both will actively go looking for another church together. You must also be blunt with your wife. Just because other people are doing wrong, it does not give her a right to forsake the assembly and do wrong herself. She will be judged by her deeds and not by what others are doing. One of the main reasons you go to services is because you are commanded to provoke one another to love and good works. She has a responsibility to do that to others in the church, regardless of others actions (Hebrews 10:23-26).

Alan Feaster

Thanks. Great answer.