Why I’m Afraid to Go to Church

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Probably very few of you of been with me on this blog since the very beginning. It started off with so much optimism and through the years of trials and tears, I’ve tried hard to find the sliver lining, the rainbow after the rain.

After six years of one thing after another, after struggling and struggling to stay above the water in everything we’ve been through, it felt like too much. After going through miscarriage, deployment, the special needs of my son, my medical problems, and now the medical complexities of my daughter, I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to give up on myself or my family, I wanted to give up on God.

I was tired. I was tired of the drama and the fake Christians, and tired of God seemingly not to care. I was tired of life’s circumstances, tired of people who thought they knew they had the answers, and tired of trying to figure out what it was God wanted from me. I thought I was done with Christianity and so-called “Christians.”

There was no lightening strike, or one exact moment where I can say I changed my mind. Maybe it was the post I read entitled, I Don’t Want to be a “Christian”, where I realized I wasn’t alone in my thoughts., maybe it was something else… Whatever it was, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted.

I am still a different person however, and I am done believing in the brand of Christianity that has been fed to me my whole life. I am done believing that if I only read the King James version of the Bible, wear skirts to church, never miss a Sunday service, and follow all the rules like a good little girl, then God will love me and be happy with me.

To be honest, I haven’t been in a church for months and neither has my family. We needed time. Time to adjust, time to figure out what we wanted. I knew I needed to figure things out for myself. Time to figure out what I believed and not what had been force-fed to me.

Now I have been researching churches and today we are going to go and try one. I’m not a fan of church shopping, it’s hard on the kids and hard to find one that fits our family’s needs. But one of the real reasons I’ve been holding back is because I’m afraid. Here’s why…

Why I'm Afraid to go to Church

3 Reason I’m Afraid to go to Church

1. I’m Afraid of Bringing my Special Needs Kids.
This is the biggest reason that has kept me from going back to church. I have two special needs kids both with varying needs. It might not seem like a big deal to some, but it’s hard for me to let go and not worry about if everyone will understand my kids and their needs.

My daughter has a feeding tube and my son has autism. My son can be hard to understand when he talks and most people don’t understand that some of what he does is because his sensory system is overwhelmed. My daughter has a feeding disorder and many other medical complexities that we are still trying to figure out. She has choking spells and if not watched carefully, she will pull out her feeding tube.

She also has sensory processing disorder and is quite the whirlwind, if I had to pick I would say I am most afraid about leaving her. She’s my baby who has been hospitalized seven times and it’s hard for me to let go.

2. I’m afraid of the People I will find.
I have been hurt a lot in several different churches. Cliques and people who have judged me and said things about how I am raising my children and dealing with my two special needs kids. I have been hurt to the point where we have left the church.

I know that not all churches are like that, but the reality is that many are. I’m sick of the church people who believe if Christianity is not done “their way” or if you don’t follow a bunch of rules then you must not be a very good Christian. Churches need to wake up. People are sinful, they always will be. Thankfully there’s grace.

3. I’m Afraid I Won’t Find the Right Church.
I don’t want to go to the kind of church I grew up with or the kind of church where you are only allowed to dress a certain way, and never allowed to miss a service. I want to go to a church where they believe that no one is perfect, that God really, truly loves us and He’s not waiting up in Heaven for us to mess up so He can punish us.

I’m not looking for a big church or a mega church. I am not looking for a church where all they sing is hymns, but I am not looking for a church that feels like I am at a rock concert either. I am looking for church that believes in true grace, in fellowship and friendship no matter who you are. I am looking for love.

Churches like this are few and far between. We have found some churches like this over the years, but the search has been long. Hopefully as we start searching for churches here in our new state near our new home, we will find the right church for us.

If you are looking for another great post on this topic, check out Courtney Kirkland’s, Why People Quit the Church. It pretty much sums up how I feel, and I’m sure how a lot of others feel too.

What about YOU? How do you feel about church? Have you ever been afraid to go?

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  1. it took us a while to find the right church too! We had to compromise on the music (it’s loud) and I prefer hymns because we fell in love with the people and the message of acceptance we found at DCC. Add it to your list of places to check out, it’s big, but so full of real people.

  2. hi kathryn, this post really resonated with me, but for a different reason. i feel people (especially “open-minded, liberal” people here in the san francisco bay area) judge me because i do go to church! they think i must be brainwashed since i belong to a religion.

    that said, i don’t know if i am living in a strange bubble, but the majority of catholic churches i have been to over the course of my life are extremely welcoming with loving, warm nonjudgemental congregations.

    many times people say, “how can you belong to the catholic church when the church is anti-gay?” and i tell them that the parishes that i go to, that the churches that i belong to welcome people of all kinds! i guess there are all types of churches from very conservative to liberal and everyone just needs to find the one that works for them. i just happen to belong to parishes that are very accepting.

    i hope you find the right church and if you don’t, that’s ok too! honestly, we have not been to church regularly in a long while because 1) lack of sleep and 2) my son cannot keep still. i think maintaining a close relationship with God is more important than attending…but for me, i like going because it’s my happy place. i don’t do it because (like many other christians think) i have to.

  3. Hi Kathryn, I think there are many more of us then most realize. I have the same problem of being afraid of going to Church but different then what you have stated. At a very young age I went to Church whenever the doors were open. Numerous time during the week. I absolutely loved the people and the pastor. Unfortunately, the Pastor and the Choir director had a falling out. Since I was too young to drive and the Choir director was my mode of transportation, when he and his wife left I had no choice but leave with them. I didn’t understand at the time what the fight was about but it totally destroyed my faith in the Church. It took me years to even want to go back to Church. I was away from the Church life for a very long time. I lived my life like there was no Heaven or Hell. I did some pretty dumb things during that time. But God never gave up on me, there was aways a tug on my heart, that I knew something was missing in my life. I found a Church on TV, none of the famous one that are on the normal Church channel, this is someone that has their own Channel with nothing but their message going out. This brought me back to my relationship with Christ. I started reading my Bible again. The thing I have realize out of all of this, is religion is man made. Christianity is a relationship with God, the church is not a building but the body of the people that have received Christ as their Savior. It would be nice to be able to go to a building and have all the people with one accord; having the same mind of Christ. But unfortunately that’s not going to happen. Religion (man) makes up their own rule that you have to abide by when you go to a particular brand of church, Baptist, Catholic, etc. There are a few good churches out there but few and far between. I do have to admit that I think the KJV is still the most accurate Bible out there. I have tried many. May God bless you and your family, I pray that God would reach down and touch your children for healing.

  4. I’m with number 2… My husband and I haven’t gone to church in a good three or four months.. But because of this fact. I love the good friends {like two} I made from our church of 1000s… but there are too many mean people in church… starting with the staff and pastors wives… Great post I’m sharing in my facebook page !

  5. I’m afraid to go to church because the last time I went (9 years ago) I witnessed severe physical abuse of a child, and when I stood up and tried to do something about it, I was ganged up upon, yelled at, and physically restrained from leaving the building. I had a baby in my arms at the time and felt threatened and intimidated. When I took it further up the line through ecclesiastical channels the perpetrator of the original abuse, and the perpetrators of my assault, told lies about me and went to great lengths to cover up the abuse. I miss church; but I cannot be sure of my children’s safety, and so I cannot return.

  6. I am sorry you have had to deal with this. I’ve grown up in a smaller state where people can be very judge-y and rude at times. We are a bit behind in some ways it seems… Keep looking! You will find a church and a group of Christians that want to call you part of their home. Good luck! =)

  7. Thank you so much for writing this!! I can relate to so much of your post (2 special needs kiddos, my own health issues, past bad experiences with churches and their special needs programs, etc.). I hope your sweet family is able to find a great fit soon! We have been researching a few new options and I long to have the support of a church family, but the obstacles to finding one seem so big and scary! We’ve spent the last year watching sermons online and while I’m thankful for that option, I hope that our family will be able to try a new church soon. Thanks again for sharing your story…it’s so nice to know that we aren’t alone!

  8. It took four years of church “shopping” for us to finally find the right one. We were disappointed and hurt many times. Our criteria were only that they teach/preach the Bible, extend fellowship and, as you mentioned, not feel like a rock concert. We were stunned by the number of churches who couldn’t satisfy those 3 things. But we kept looking and found a church that DOES meet them all and we are thrilled! I just want to encourage you to keep trying. There are good churches and true Christians out there. It is vital for your children, as well as for you to recharge and renew your strength for the challenges of special needs children.

    God bless you for seeking out his Word and for your dedication to your children.

  9. I love your description of the kind of church you want to find, because that’s the church I want too. Generally, I find it within my Mormon faith. But often times I have give the people around my a break if they don’t believe in the same exact kind of God I do (the kind of God you seem to believe in as well). It’s hard, but I keep trying. I hope you find what you’re looking for—and a place where you get the love and support you need for you and your kids!

  10. church “shopping” is hard, and having to do it so often as a military family feels even harder. Its a struggle for me because I love the church we grew up in, got married in, our home church. its hard. But I think being sped spiritually and having the fellowship of my brothers and sisters outweighs any fears that I have. I hope you all find what you are looking for.

  11. Hi Kathryn, I understand where you are coming from and how you are feeling. Periods in life like what you are going through can actually be times of great grace where God is calling you to a deeper relationship with Him–a mature faith that goes beyond “the rules” into intimacy with Him as your loving Father. Many Christians pass through what you are experiencing at some point, so have courage! I’m new to your blog and haven’t read about your whole faith background, but you and your precious kids would be welcome in any Catholic church.

  12. I gave up on churches, church people and church games long ago. God is not confined to church buildings. He is my loving Father, Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord and His Word is my guide. The blessed Holy Spirit is my counselor and comforter. The sky is my cathedral, and the trees overhead are my canopy. My music is birdsong and the other sounds of nature. Sun, moon and stars are my candles. The sweet scents of nature are my incense. I can go to my church anytime and God is there. My mission field is other people, and my giving is to the needy. Fellowship is with those of like faith and even can take place via internet. In my church there is no gossip, judgment or conflict, no nerve-wracking “music” or mind-numbing little choruses. I can attend my church minus hat, pantyhose or makeup. I can meditate on the scriptures or my favorite hymns or even bring a book and read. There are no stock phrases or stale canned sermon reruns. In my church there is inspiration without condemnation and truth untainted by error, prejudice and traditions of men. My church is open 24/7. Want to come along?

  13. I have been in the same church all of my life. I have visited all kinds with friends. bit have stayed at my home church. It hasn’t been out of fear, just that I like the people and the Pastor enough to stay. I too. have had my feeling hurt in church. But we always just kind of worked it out. Our small church is in trouble though. and might even close. I used to be full of people, but it has dwindled. the attendance has fallen for a long time now. Not that any one in
    particular caused it. The congregation has aged and there are only a few precious children left. Sure. I have had my feelings hurt now and then by a certain person there but I just didn’t let her win. I’m sorry you can’t find one you love. There are hundreds out there lots of different faiths. Trial and error will help you find the right one.

  14. I haven’t been to church in awhile. I am Catholic 79 years old. I watch Sunday Mass on TV. Due to the pandemic church was closed then I was ill in the hospital awhile. I’m ok now I support the church. Monetarily but haven’t been to Confession for almost 4 years. It is hard to get to confession because we only have 1 priest for 3 churches and 1 church for confession with a limited time frame. Everyone goes to Communion in the Church but I won’t take Communion until I go to Confession because I missed Sunday Mass a lot and that is a mortal sin. I leave the church when everybody goes to Communion and everyone looks at me as if I committed murder so for that reason I’m afraid to go to Church

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