Honestly? I have lost all my interest in going to church, as well as faith in general.
Maybe it was being abused for years by missionaries, maybe it's because I think many christians are utter hypocrites, maybe it's because I'm unenlightened and going to hell. I've given up caring, and I've given up religion. I'm not an atheist, just a disinterested, burned out agnostic who wishes we could all just love each other and help others and forget about listening to a man talk about another man inside four walls.
I am truely sorry that happened to you. I can also see how that can color your world about Christianity, and make you feel it is repellant. However, the part about a 'man talking in four walls', the four walls are a place to meet. Period. This is a wealthy country. We can afford to have four walls. There is a small tract ministry here in town, and they support a mission in Haiti where they don't have four walls. As Gulley said, don't throw the baby out wih the bath water. There is a special place in the third circle of hell for those that abused you. I know that isn't particularly helpful at this point, but there it is. And all those who are so afraid of being with hypocrites, get over yourselves! Every one of us screws up every single day. That is what forgiveness is all about.
First off, would you feel comfortable talking to either your pastor or a lay leader about your concerns? Does your church have a missions/outreach team that you could become involved with to bring some local needs to the attention of the congregation? My church is also located in a poor section of our city and our mission outreach team is mostly focused on local needs - keeping a pantry stocked for those who stop by the church needing food, participating in a partnership with other churches to open the churches on a rotating basis for a meal and overnight stay for homeless families in our comunity, and providing an after school tutoring program and meal for at risk kids in our community. Our church is poor and often cannot make our "contribution" to our denomination's diocese and we've often been worried that we'll have to cancel one or more of our local outreach missions, but we always seem to be able to come up with the $.
If you don't feel comfortable talking to your clergy or becoming more involved in the missions outreach planning, then maybe you should look around at other churches in your community that are already doing the kind of mission work you are interested in. Finding the right faith community for you is very important. I love our church and I'm blessed to be part of a faith community that shares my values, but I've attended other churches that appalled me.
wellspotted, can you identify a particular need in your community and be the point person in your church to start a new assistance program? Perhaps there are others in your church community who agree and would join you if you take the first step?
I'm no longer a church member, but the one I used to belong to was quite informal, with an "open floor" period when people could stand up & speak in church. If your church has that, maybe use that as an opportunity to open a dialog.
You could research by contacting other community resource/assistance programs and see where they need help, and then create a team from your church.
Or look at something like Habitat for Humanity or Purple Heart Homes...they do local builds in towns all over the country, and you could organize a team from your church to help.
Don't despair without reaching out to the community you have...you could be the voice that makes the difference!
Definitely depends on the church. I am pretty terrible about actually attending my church but part of the reason why I appreciate this particular church is that we firmly believe that the role of the church is first to support our local community in practical ways. Helping people in our neighborhoods do things they don't have time or ability or money to do, paying people's bills and buying them groceries, whatever the need is. We work with local government and other non profits as well to try to meet as many needs as we can find locally.
That doesn't mean we don't do things in other countries (like building wells and helping to provide for basic needs like healthcare, food, and clothing). But our first priority is serving our community.
There are some people in my church that irritate the heck out of me and I have met many people that profess to be christians that do terrible things.
But I would simply say that I base my beliefs more on the personal faith I have worked out over the years than on what other people do.
This as well. Most people have SOME pride and may need help but not know where to go.
Exactly. If I'd been in desperate straits (no parents to help out, no family or friends) I know I can go to the parish or to the Salvation Army and I'll get food and shelter, but I'm not going to go begging door to door or telling everyone I meet "Oh, yeah, I lost my job and I can't pay the mortgage AND buy groceries, so I'm going hungry..."
Why is it that humans need a structure around them (church, in this instance) to show humanity to others? Why must it be an 'act of god' or whatever before you can see it as good?
Why can't people who don't even know each other, when faced with a community crisis, just COME TOGETHER as PEOPLE, not as religious chest beaters, to help?
Nope, don't go to church, never have, never will. I prefer to keep my own counsel, not someone else's idea of it.
I know there is a bigger 'power' than what we each currently are the sum of, but we are part OF it, and it cannot BE without ME or YOU or HER. So therefore, there is no separation, and there is nothing but love and togetherness, no matter your color, place of birth or name of deity you choose to give away your power to.
Folks, let's show our Homo Spiritus side, not our past.
"As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James
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Many of the large church groups do go into our national disaster areas but it doesn't often make the news. Franklin Graham (Billy Graham's son) was on TV last night...they have a fleet of tractor trailers filled with relief supplies waiting for the go ahead from local authorities and hundreds of volunteers to help with what he called mudouts. It's performing the labor to remove the mud from basements after the water is gone...apparently tedious, hand labor. The Morman Church also has huge relief efforts always ready to roll. Then there's the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
Some of the big private companies also have huge relief efforts such as Walmart, Home Depot and even Tide with the trailers full of washers and dryers so folks can bring their clothes and get them washed. However, most of the news coverage goes to government efforts.
On a local effort, Walmart donates pet food to our local humane society. We pick it up once a week. Some of it is in torn bags (which they tape) and others look fine. Most of us foster moms pay for the fosters' food out of our own pocket...occasionally I've taken some bags of kitten chow. The rest is used as a pet food bank. At one time, we could give out whole bags of food. But the need has been so great, we have to ration it by opening the big bag and filling a grocery bag to the max. Folks coming for it include college kids riding their bikes across town to the elderly who would go hungry before their pet. There is also kitty litter and donated beds and bedding available.
I haven't read all the responses, just my 2 cents...
It is issues like this that frustrate me so badly, and I think can give Christianity/church/religion a really bad rep.
I was raised going to church. Two, three days a week, whever the doors were open. I took a few years "break" in high school/college because I was an angry, hormonal teenager and thought I needed to go find myself or something. Whatever. Anyways, I finally came to the realization that my life just wasn't the same without God and a church family in my life. Ended up finding a much smaller, more personable church, and loved it. Been going ever since. Sure, we have our own problems, but one reason I love it so much is that we really do try to NOT fall into that rut of only helping other countries, or only responding to catastrophes, etc. The people are incredibly generous and loving, and I think all in all we do a pretty good job.
That said, I have also been on the other side of it, which was probably why I quit going in the first place. Very hypocritical group (at church #1), weren't open or honest, weren't loving or supportive, if there was a problem going on they just swept in under the rug. Because, hey, it only matters that we look good, right? We don't want to look like we have real members with real problems....
So I really don't have a solution, it just frustrates me so badly when I hear non-stop talk at my work or with friends, talking about how hypocritical church is, and how they don't care about people, and on and on. It makes me want to scream... there's one in EVERY crowd, that doesn't mean every single church is like that.
I have been in the desperate straits danceronice spoke of. Parents dead for several years now, no other family, no friends who can help. I have tried going to several local parishes and telling them my situation, some say they will pray, no one has offered food, money, etc. I can't imagine going door to door asking for food (probably illegal anyway, more intrusive than pan-handling!). I have told I don't know how many pastors/church secretaries/members about my situation and one member did send me a Chick-Fil-A gift card, which I thought was very very generous.
As for throwing Jesus out with the bath water, no way. My relationship with Him has strengthened exponentially during this past year, the weaker my financial situation seems, the stronger my friendship with Him has grown. And He has provided. I have eaten. The cats have eaten. We still have our room. My car shudders and rumbles and squiggles, but it goes and it stops. Right now the key is stuck in the ignition, but I drape the steering column when I park the car, and am grateful the car looks so old and worn out that I don't think anyone would be tempted to steal it even if I left the key open to view. I can't turn on the heater because the fumes from the radiator leak make me sick, but I'm not driving around Saskatchewan! (I would love to drive around Saskatchewan, in another car! ) I keep remembering that feral cats have no heaters, no roofs over their heads (not always) and no paychecks, and yet they have communities! Their heavenly Father takes care of them.
And Alley Cat Allies are out on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, awaiting the return of the local ferals, to check they are OK and to feed them.
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