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Is it better to be disengaged while sitting in church or just not to attend at all?
Recently, I’ve entered into a new season of life. A new job, a new house, new friends (more of them actually) and a new problem:
I don’t like church.
I’m actually incredibly thankful for the church community I have, because it’s served me well, and I know I could be worse off, but every Saturday morning I have this battle inside my brain as to whether I should get out of bed and go to church, or rest, watch a service online and then see what the rest of the day brings me.
A few months ago, the church service I was actively involved in, switched gears to focus more on young families than young adults. I was in charge of a team that surveyed the church and presented our findings to the pastoral staff, church board and both service planning teams. As time went on, things began to change.
I connect to God through music and it was clear to me that wasn’t a huge priority to the church for our service–that and/or everyone was just burned out. This summer, I stepped down from my leadership position, because I needed a break, but I also saw how my attitude wasn’t positive and I was growing more and more frustrated with planning a service that missed the mark for me.
My denomination is also at war with itself and it’s not looking too positive. Right now, the big debate is whether our global church denomination will allow for women to be ordained. It’s honestly a mess. There have been countless votes, articles for and against, all the while, people questioning what the hell is happening, pardon my French. It really makes me wonder where the church denomination is headed.
It’s not breaking news that churches around the nation are struggling to keep young adults engaged. On a weekly basis, I see articles about how to attract young adults to church or how to keep them there or why we’re not in church. It used to be that young adults would come back, so to speak, once they got married and started a family. But we’re not seeing those numbers anymore. People my age are finding community elsewhere. They still have a strong relationship with God, but they’re not buying into church communities for whatever their reasoning.
I’m not questioning my beliefs, I’m questioning how the Seventh-day Adventist Church defines and does church. As of late, I’m not convinced it’s working anymore. A few months ago, I looked forward to going to church every weekend, now I look forward to the weekend to just rest. Attending church isn’t really part of those plans.
My question still stands: Is it better to be disengaged while sitting in church or not to attend at all?
I don’t have an answer yet, but I feel like I’m in a good place because I’m wrestling with this instead of becoming complacent.
While I was on the leadership team, I fought feelings of obligation to attend the service every week. Church shouldn’t be an obligation, it should be a place where you can come as you are, with all your questions to just be, and rest.
I also know by not attending church, I’m missing out on community. I’ve felt that deeply—for example two weekends ago, I spent most of my Saturday in bed, upset about a conversation I had and not sleeping that night, which caused me to choose sleep over dragging myself out of bed to go to church. I missed out on a lot that day, and I felt it.
It’s a weird space to be in, because just months ago I was raving about the community that I’m part of. But this is my reality now—I’ve had multiple conversations with friends, including some of my pastors—I’m not walking away and I’m not totally disengaged, but I’m trying to find my place at this church, now that I’m just a church member.
In the last couple months, the young adults have created somewhat of another service, once a month on Friday nights. We call it Ascent. It’s held in a newly renovated area of the church, a comfortable and safe space for us to worship in the way we prefer. We focus on music, have snacks, and a relevant message where we take 20 minutes to discuss during the service. There is still a lot to plan for this service, but it feels promising.
In all honesty, I’m putting my heart and soul into this service because I need it.
I don’t think this service is the only answer for keeping me engaged, but I’m willing to see how it will impact my engagement. As I continue to wrestle with this new phenomenon, I’m curious if anyone else understands what I’m wrestling with. Have you come to a conclusion? Yes or no, let’s connect–I’d love to hear your thoughts.
This entry was posted in blog.

6 comments on “I Don’t Like Church

  1. Shonna says:

    Lauren, I love your authenticity. The Friday night service sounds awesome! I helped with one of those for a season and loved it. Such a nice way to enter Shabbat, and leave the majority of the day open to TRULY rest/restore at the end of a week.

    For me, I had to find a worship style that suited me better and it sounds like you are headed that direction. =)


  2. Diana says:

    Struggling with the same…is it an epidemic? Love your ability to be real ……and as I am a fellow “real” person, I want the correct answer for all the young I engage with and love. Don’t give up…it is your church…fight for what you believe….be the change…..
    I’m not leaving….I will be the change.
    So proud of you!


  3. Tammie Crabtree - Davis says:

    Lauren I can relate to your feelings on the importance of music in worship. I’ve always enjoyed hearing you sing in the band with my son Tristan . As far as you title “I don’t like church” My youngest 17 year old does not like church . Sabbath has always been a family time where we could come together go to church -gather and eat a nice lunch. You know connect with each other. So I’ve step back from the Saturday morning drama of trying to pull a family member into going to church because I don’t want my kid’s dislike of church to turn to hate . So I hug them goodbye as I head to church tell them that I love them and that I’ll meet them later for lunch. I would love hear others opinions on this subject. Thanks for starting this conversation .


    1. Wash says:

      You are definitely not singular in your thinking. I was having a conversation with someone about how imo church just isn’t working anymore in many of its current forms and scratching our heads thinking what to do to make church for of a community and allow people to experience the presence of God! Love what you wrote…just know that it’s not just members thinking this way but also pastors….


  4. joeytolbert says:

    This ALL resonates well within me. I’m a xennial (40 years old, married with 2 children) I have a hard time going into a church worship service and walking out with anything useful. I have felt…many times…that I am going through the motions because it’s the “right” thing to do. Make it til you break it? I don’t know. BUT…I’m tired and I am also angry. I’m not angry at God but the institution (I guess). Now, I also want to add that I have put myself out there many times to be active within the community, and so I’m not just sitting there picking out all that I don’t like without trying to make a difference and do my part.

    I think it is an epidemic, but I’m not sure what the answer is…I wish it was an easy answer fix.


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