I'm going to repeat my post from another thread. To all the non-church goers that responded honestly to my question. Thank-you.
I am sorry for some of the bad experiences you have had. I am sorry for the way you are sometimes treated in this forum.
To fellow church-goers. Please don't post in this thread. If you want to start a thread about why you believe in the Bible or Jesus, please do. If you want to start a thread about why going to church is the highlight of your life, please do. I'll probably post my reasons there as well. That is NOT what this thread is about.
I want to know why people DON'T go to church. If it is because they don't believe, then fine. Knowing that helps me understand where they're coming from. If it is because they've only encountered money-grabbing hypocrites, then fine as well. I want to know where they're coming from. I think I KNOW where all of those who go to church are coming from, but just in case I'll start a thread for us to.
Moderators, since this is a sensative subject and I'm asking them why they don't go and those responses may be very emotional, please give people who are responding to the subject a little more lee-way than usual.
So here we go again!
If you read this forum, you are obviously interested in spiritual matters. If you don't go to church you obviously have reasons. Help me to understand why.
1. Would you say you don't go to church because
a)you're too busy
b)you can't find a church that fits your beliefs
c)no one has invited you
d)you have had bad experiences with churches before
e)you are currently locked up in an institution
f) the last preacher you heard bored you to tears
2. You would come to church if
a) they had a service that fit your schedule
b) a friend would invite you
c) I saw an interesting ad in the paper, on tv
d) somebody knocked on my door and invited me
e) I got a letter or post-card from them
f) they starting sacrificing chickens
3. On your first visit to a church, how do you expect to be treated?
I'm not ing. I'm a preacher and I'm in charge of outreach. I sincerely want to share my beliefs, but I don't want to waste my time or invade people's privacy. Looking forward to your answers.
You might want to add "I believe in Universal Reconciliation" to question 1. There are alot of people that believe in God claim they are Christian but don't believe God will send people to hell. Alot of times they don't go to church.
Non believer here....never really had any bad experiences at any of the churchs I have been to. My parents where believers as are quite a few close friends. I guess most of my "problem" comes from beleiving that the Bible is the written word of anybody besides the person or persons writting it. I think there are good life lessons to be taken from some of it. But just don't see "divine" inspiration in what is written.
I would say I am NOT a church goer but I also would say I have been in more churches than most people on this board. I have been to most main stream Christain type worship halls and churches even some NON mainstream christian services. I have been to both evangelical and non evangelical types in my quest.
My wife loves worshiping in the old style Roman Catholic church, she says it seems closer to god. I go with her about twice a month but I dont worship, I go with her because she values my view point and I hers. I cast no stones at ANY type of worship if it makes the person feel contected to god. ANY type of connection to god is better than none at all.
To let you know how long my searched has lasted I served as an altar boy 25 years ago and have been searching ever since.
Am I a church goer ? You decide...
Here are my answers
1. Would you say you don't go to church because
a)you're too busy. Sometimes
b)you can't find a church that fits your beliefs. This hits the nail on the head
c)no one has invited you. Most people know the door is ALWAYS open
d)you have had bad experiences with churches before. Not bad just not good
e)you are currently locked up in an institution Even then its nice to get to service just to get out of the cell
f) the last preacher you heard bored you to tears. Its going happen its just the nature of the beast
2. You would come to church if
a) they had a service that fit your schedule. Its Sunday most people have the whole day off
b) a friend would invite you. This is how I have gotten to most of the services I have attended
c) I saw an interesting ad in the paper, on tv Never
d) somebody knocked on my door and invited me Never
e) I got a letter or post-card from them Never
f) they starting sacrificing chickens Never
3. On your first visit to a church, how do you expect to be treated? I really dont want to be treated any different than if I went there all my life.
I want to sit back and listen until I feel comfortable enough to interact with others. It may take 5 minutes or 5 vists before I feel ok enough to join in the service.
Good luck building your membership.
1. Would you say you don't go to church because
a)you're too busy This is a factor
b)you can't find a church that fits your beliefsI'm not comfortable being told what to believe because I don't trust people to tell the truth. With so many different interpretations and translations of the bible (and any other religious book for that matter) combined with political entanglements over the centuries, how can I be sure that the content hasn't been tampered with over the centuries? If Americans can't even hold the line with the Constitution for 200 years, why wouldn't I be suspicious of modern interpretations of the Bible?
c)no one has invited you I think that people are hesitant to invite others to church because they are shunned by modern society. I've seen many religious people (especially Christians) called names when they try to invite people to church (Bible banger, etc...). Instead of saying "no thanks", many people will start a debate with the invitee.
d)you have had bad experiences with churches beforenone at all. The few functions that I do attend at churches (funerals, weddings, etc.) have been a little boring, but I can't say that I view churches in a negative light.
e)you are currently locked up in an institution I probably should be.
f) the last preacher you heard bored you to tearsNothing against Catholics, but Mass is especially boring, particularly when it's in Latin.
2. You would come to church if
a) they had a service that fit your scheduleIf I were on the fence, yes this would make a difference.
b) a friend would invite you To be honest with you, I would probably go if a friend told me that he would introduce me to a nice woman at his church. My motives would not be pure at first, but maybe that could change over time if I fell in love with a good woman that I met at church.
c) I saw an interesting ad in the paper, on tvbad idea. It will make people think that the church is looking for revenue.(IMO) Ads are associated with commerce in most people's minds.
d) somebody knocked on my door and invited meThat's a waste of effort. People get pissed off by door knockers. I'm tolerant and polite about it, but most people aren't.
e) I got a letter or post-card from themI usually throw away post cards without looking at them
f) they starting sacrificing chickens As long as they're battered and fried for dinner, why not?
Another thing that discourages me from going to church is political involvment. I don't like being told who to vote for by ANYBODY (except for Arfcom ). It's especially annoying when someone implies that God himself told them to tell me who to vote for or which position I should take on a controversial issue. I usually vote for the same candidates as most conservative Christians, but I do so on my terms.
It also pisses me off when my Union tells me who to vote for, so please don't think of me as an anti-religious person.
I hope this helps.
Christians do not stimulate "Christian behavior" on my part.
Also, I've been told that I'm going to Hell on many an occasion. While this may very well be true, I doubt anyone on this Earth has the authority to make that pronouncement, and I'm not going to listen to it from them. At least not the in the form that it is typically presented. Give me a reasoned argument and I might respond better.
Also, if God had wanted an hour of my time, he should have made the week an hour longer. Sunday is my only day off. I don't wake up early on Sundays. Ever. And certainly not to dress in uncomfortable clothing, fight traffic, spend time with a lot of people I dislike, have divine judgement passed on me by people with no authority, be lectured by people who are no more well-versed on the subject than I am, and do so just to "be seen" and punch the ticket.
While there are certainly churches that don't fit the above description, I haven't found any and I'm tired of looking. I would love to find a church of a more scholarly persuasion, where people can talk about religious matters and study religion without the typical judgemental, question-discouraging "Do as I say" attitude that is so prevalent in many of the churches today. I get no spiritual benefit from the whole process and can do much better reading and studying the subject on my own. It's a matter of productive use of time.
I'll read on my own time because that is what I want to do. I find it interesting. This seems like the right approach to take, rather than because of social pressure or fear. To quote Aristotle, "That I do without being commanded, what others do from fear of the laws."
This is from someone who looked into the clergy and even a monastery at one point in my life. I'm now a nondenominational Christian and not a particularly good one either. I'm sorry for my hostility, but things have a way of getting to you over time.
Best of luck with your task.
By 'church' I assume you mean some sort of organized assembly. In that sense, internet forums are my church and the congregation is bigger than any brick and mortar structure holds on this earth. In another sense, I'm on an independant study program, a sort of 'Chruch without walls or set hours'.
Do you recall that poem by Emily Dickenson?
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church --
I keep it, staying at Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an Orchard, for a Dome --
I find greater revelation of the Divine in the diversity of existence that comprises Divinity than I find in the pages of a single canon of scripture or the sermon of a self appointed cleric. My concept of Divinity does not require worship in the sense of praise though learning about Its nature is worship in my opinion. That's just my learning style, others' may vary.
I hope you don't mind me asking. If you don't believe, why did you go? Just curious.
Also, would you consider going back? Why or why not?
Didn't detect any hostility. Thank-you for your response
Ahhh, the universal explanation for a lot of inexplicable behavior.
ETA perhaps the best way to get our church to grow would be to recruit a lot of hot women
I am a non-believer. I have researched a few religions in the past and Christianity just didn't make sense to me. I have read the Bible, and it is a great book, in fact I think that more people should read it and try to live by some of the principles laid down in it. Unfortunately I think that the Bible is a very ambiguous book, kind of like the electrical code book. There seems to be valid arguments for moderates and extremists alike. Although I am not a religious person I do have a solid set of values which coincide pretty well with Christians, with the exception of believing in God. I have no problem with people who are religious, just please don't look down your nose at me because I am not.
ETA I apologize for getting involved with the mess that DarkHalf started in your last thread.
Thanks for your response.
As for your involvement in the previous thread, I look at some of your comments kind of like an air marshal. You weren't the hijacker, but your shots made a mess of my airplane.
Seriously, a big thanks to everybody for keeping this thread on topic.
I don’t go to church because, for me, there’s no point. I’ve been an Atheist since I was 8.
Raised in a Methodist home, went to church and Sunday School. Actually read the first several chapters of the Bible and asked some fairly simple questions of my Sunday School teacher. When she blew me off – “Because that’s what it says in the Bible!” “You’re not supposed to ask that!” - I started to seriously question the whole business.
I’ve spent years (I’m about to turn 60) studying various religions. My book collection is pretty extensive. I find the concept fascinating. Puzzling, but fascinating. hinking.gif
As an amateur musician, I’ve played dozens of church gigs. I’m always amazed at what I hear. It’s hard for me to understand how people can actually buy into all that stuff.
No flame intended. I can’t understand why anyone would buy a Buick, either! hn
I don't go to church,
maybe because I'm lazy
maybe because I haven't found a church where I feel like i belong AND isn't 2+ hours away
maybe because I don't believe that the Bible is the word of god straight from his mouth.
-I believe the bible has some great stuff in it, but it has been edited and re-edited by men with agendas. Plus it (new testament) STARTED OUT as being written 3 generations after Jesus died. Did you ever play "telephone" in kindergarden? Messages get convoluted in TWO MINUTES.
maybe it's because of church gossips. They just seem so evil and anti-Christian, but sometimes it seems like they flock to churches.
maybe because I wouldn't know anyone there, I'm shy. and it would be awkward the first thousand times I went.
maybe because some churchgoers take the opportunity at church to look down on people and talk about such and such's wardrobe, instead of listening to the messages of the sermon.
maybe because everytime I went to a bible study and respectfully questioned things (looking for real answers), people looked at me like an invading atheist looking to mind meld with them.
maybe because I've been told I will go to hell if I don't join their particular sect of Christianity.
I had a boyfriend once who was open to us reading the bible before we went to bed a couple of times a week. We would lie in bed and read to each other. Sometimes we would stop at points, debate issues, anything went though we were always respectful to each other. We both really enjoyed it. We both never went to church, but the bible has great things to say.
I guess I just don't want to feel stifled, or like I am threatening people because of my views. A church, ideally, should feel like a family. Unconditional love and understanding. In my travels, I have found one church like that, but it is too far for me to commute to, so I don't go.
I'll speak specifically to Christianity here, although I could speak similarly to other religions I've come in contact with, except possibly Buddhism (which, it can be argued, is more a way of thinking than a religion):
I no longer go to church because when I became able to think deeply enough to ask questions, I only got the kind of answers that are used to sell real estate in Florida. If someone wants me to accept claims that go contrary to logic, reason and experience, they must supply strong evidence. For example, all my logic, reason and experience tells me that people are born to non-virgins, can't walk on water, don't live for 900 years, can't part seas, stay dead, and don't become gods. If you want me to believe that they do, it will take considerably more than second-hand testimony from very biased witnesses who are no longer available. Especially if you're soliciting "offerings".
As my doubts increased, it also become apparent that as far as "judging not", having a forgiving spirit, and etc., I was out-Christianing most Christians. If it smells like hypocrisy, I don't want to be associated with it.
Hmmm, a Tantric Sex Temple, now that would pack 'em in!
I've not gone to church for years. I have only been in one church in my life where I felt comfortable and that was an extremely small (less than 25 members) in Texas. It was comfortable because everyone knew each other and no one "put on an act" or changed their behavior from the norm just because they were in church. The friend who introduced me to this church and I would occasionally skip the morning service to go fishing and it was not uncommon for the preacher to call us, during the service, to check on us, ask if the fish were biting and ask (suggestively) if we were coming to the evening service.
The preacher read from the bible during service and I don't ever recall him talking about money during the services. He did not candy coat anything and he quite simply told everyone what would get them into heaven and what would get them into hell. Everything about that church was very honest and out in the open. We would sing but there was no band involved, the preacher didn't make everyone hug eachother or hold hands with those that they did not know.
I have never been to another church that was anything like it. I have a pretty good sense about when people aren't being honest. For most it seems, they become a different person for the time they are at church. As soon as they leave, they become "themselves" again. This is a huge turn off to me personally. I don't want listen to a band, or sing for hours, or hug and hold hands with people that I don't know. I don't want to be forced to do anything or feel out of place if I choose not to. I also do not want to sit and listen to the preacher talk about money or the new church building or renovation. Save that for church meetings, not the service.
I miss that little church on the hill in Texas. I was a much better person then.
Some churches are alright, such as the ones that focus on the Bible and not politics. LOTS of churches go off on tangents about politics. Gays are bad mmkay, don't murder eggs, birth control is evil, sex is wrong, yada yada yada. Notice how all of those things go back to sex too? Baptists are the worst about that, but I digress.
Anyways, IF I were to go to a church (even as a non-believer), I'd be interested mainly in Bible study and hearing real theological opinions and history. I'm not interested in sitting through a 1-2 hour preach-a-thon about how Chrstians must fight a holy war against the gays or whatever. Forgive and forget, you are not the judge, live and let live, etc... what happened to that part of Christian thought? Seems like certain people like to brand themselves a Christian and then become a vicarious judge of deeds.
Also, depending on where you live, going to church can become nothing more than a status symbol for the type of car you drive and the name brand clothes you wear while sitting in the pew. I don't think the ministers intend this, but that's what happens in the richer churches just because of their patronage. Giving money means building a bigger church and sending the youth groups on trips to Disneyland instead of doing something to further the teachings of Christ.
I find it odd that my first post on AR-15.com is about religion....anway in response to your question: I used to be catholic. I went to catholic schools from 3rd-10th. Thoughout my time in there I encountered a few undesireable people associated with the religion (judgemental, holier than tho, political, money grabbing etc). However most of the people were good people. The few bad seeds were NOT what turned me away from it. My education did. I suppose I'm inquisitive in nature, and I always wish to know why, I can't just take things as a matter of faith. I took a great interest in science early on. I read much on astronomy and biology. The more I learned the more I questioned my faith. Slowly but surly I progressed from a god fearing child, to an ex-catholic teenager who still believed in the possibilty of a higher power, to a moral adult atheist. It wasn't a personal quest to abandon my religion, it just gradually happened.
Now as far as going to church. As a child I went to church because I was afraid of going to hell not to mention we had to go every wednesday during school. I would skip every sunday service I could back then becaue "one day a week is good enough to keep me from going to hell." An hour is an eternity for a hyper gradeschooler to sit still. Once entering middle school my major reasoning for not attending was "I don't need to go to church to have a relationship with God. I can talk to him just as easily, if not more so, here." As I said before, i'm an atheist now, so thats the reason I don't go to church now.
::edit:: I have to keep editing this, perhaps I should have looked more into spelling through my years..
Hmm, I grew up going to Assemblies of God churches. When I reached 25, started attending a non-denominational church. Great music, thats about it. The pastor and his co-pastor wife at first seemed sincere and anointed. After a year or two, we were preached to about money, money, money. Those on welfare were told to give their checks to the church and the pastors would manage their money for them. For those of us who weren't on welfare, we were to give 25%, not 10% of our income, not including the offering, that was just our tithe. The co-pastor claimed to have died in a previous car accident, but was resurrected from the dead. Right. I wanted to leave after 5 years, but unfortunatley several of my family members who were also involved in the church convinced me to stay. When word would get to the pastors that someone wanted to leave, they were advanced in stature to suck them back in. When someone in the congregation was put on any kind of medication for pain, they were told to live by faith, and give her the prescriptions. When the co-pastor, who I now believe was the RingLeader started to wear gloves to service, because she "didnt want to touch anything or anyone directly because it would ruin her anointing" I knew it had gone too far. After 8 years and no more spiritual growth than when I first started going, I left. It was only after I left that I found out the co-pastor was an alcoholic, drinking several bottles of cough syrup a day, and the medications she had received from the congregation were being taken by her to continue on her high. That kind of turned me off from church for awhile.
Several years later and 1000 miles away, I started attending a Baptist church. Great messages every week, good music, but not very personable, church held 2,000. They had a thrift store, where I purchased a few clothing items for myself. Because there was no fitting room, I had to buy, hoping they would fit me. When they didn't and I tried to return them, I was told no cash refunds. Are you kidding me, this church has 3 services every Sunday morning, each Sunday bringing in almost a quarter of a million bucks in tithes and offerings, and they wouldn't refund me $7.00????
I watch Joyce Meier every week from the comfort of my home, I read my Bible, I pray, it may not be what is expected of me, but I would rather not go to church and be the way I am, then to go to church and be the way they are. They being the previous churches I was associated with.
I'm not saying every church is like that, and when one comes along that I believe is genuine, I will start attending again. Thats why I don't currently go to church.
I've stopped going to church altogether. Not through any particular malice towards what I still view as the word of God, or towards the instituitions that I grew up with (Catholic), but more of a general slide.
When I was young, my family went to church regularly. By the time I was in Junior-High, we were only going on major holidays, and by the time I was in Highschool, rarely even then. I believe what I was taught were good lessons, from a moral standpoint, and have been baptised three times now.
After highschool, I joined the United States Army. I was baptised (for the second time) during basic training, and carried a pocket bible on me in uniform.
While stationed in Colorado, I had a few issues and re-discovered the Lord in my life. I resumed carrying a bible with me in uniform, and was baptised (3rd time) shortly before being sent to Korea.
Since then, I have defended the rights of others to believe what they will, and have generally found that the teachings contained in the Bible are a good fit for the values held by the US Military.
Do I go to church? No. I dont think it is necessary, but I think anyone who does should have every opportunity to do so.
b & g
Not many churches are HONESTLY open to discussions from people who have differing beliefs - especially from a non-christian point of view.
Why talk about "saving one's soul" when I don't believe in an immortal soul? Why show me Bible verses that say that Jesus is the Son of God when I don't believe that the Bible is the inerent Word of God but even question the existence and/or nature of God?
I might consider attending if a class was offered for skeptics where open discussions was encouraged and there were few overtones of belief systems. (Difficult to offer in any church). I personally would need allowance for logic and science.
With common courtesy.
IMHO, be respectful when trying to "convert" someone. Many people didn't come to their conclusions about life, the universe, and everything lightly at all.
I don't mind going to church. Growing up we were expected to go (Methodist mostly), but I get little out of church services or Sunday school unless there are open discussions.
BTW, my wife is a Christian, but she rarely goes (I would if she did) due to her bad experiences with a couple of more conservative churches (some Baptist and a "community" church).