Friendship

I know people I like.

I know Christians I like.

But I didn’t meet them at church.

What is it about church that makes relationships made there so worthless?

I think it goes to the very heart of what’s rubbish about church.

A very long time ago I did a children’s talk when I was in the church youth group. I cut up a lot of oranges (my visual aid) and talked about how church ought to be a place where we remove our “skin” of pretending and be real.

Over the years that image stays with me. Church is a place where we pretend to be good and respectable. That’s such a basic mistake!

Of course, there is an exception. When we have “strayed” but now we’ve got it all sorted again it is perfectly acceptable to talk about it. The whole concept of straying, as if we basically get it all right most of the time but sometimes go wrong for a bit, is a lie.

This false environment provides a strong barrier to forming proper relationships with people. In order to become friends with someone from church I have to disassociate them from church in my mind. We have to meet enough at home or somewhere else that I no longer see them as a church person, but as a person who happens to go to my church.

This is so the opposite of how it should be. Where is the acknowledgement of what life is really like?

My “church friends” are not friends at all – they’re people I can talk to at church so that I’m not standing there on my own. The whole business is a complete waste of time and I only go out of duty.

What can we do to make it better? What can I do?

15 Replies to “Friendship”

  1. Thanks for this really honest article – I feel like this about so many superficial church ‘friendships’.

    > What can we do to make it better? What can I do?

    The only thing I can think of is for *us* to buck the trend, and be honest when we’re talking to people at church. It might open up some more real relationships.

    I’ve found I can be more friendly and more real with people in a small group, too; they get to know me, I get to know them, and we open up more. Good to do something that normal friends do, too – going to the cinema or pub with some church people has helped recently.

  2. Hi,

    I totally agree…

    I almost feel as if I am ‘letting the side down’ when I go to Church and speak to the people there. My life never seems to be going as smoothly as theirs and when they do mention a problem it seems so small that I find it difficult to venture my own.

    Although I would like to think my string of absenteeism from Church recently is due to my stressful work load and just moving back into the area, in reality it is more due to a fear of not fitting in and not conforming to everyone else’s standards or expectations.

    Sometimes it is fearing the realisation that I am not performing to *my* expectations.

    As for what to do I have no idea. I guess a single close friend at Church or out of Church that we can be open with and accountable to would help. I also think that as the first reply to you post says we should probably buck the trends and hopefully be pleasantly surprised by the result.

    Let me know how it is going for you in the future, I hope you feel like you are making progress with this. Or should that be I hope you feel others are making progress with this…

    Dx

  3. I often feel I’m letting the side down – not the “churchy-people” side but the “normal-people” side by acting just like a churchy-person when I get there.

  4. I think it depends a lot on the individual church – or should I say, the general health of the church. The church I grew up in was very warm and friendly and ‘socially aware’, but didn’t have a clue about the gospel and sin as far as I could tell. And I could never bring myself to say “I’ll pray for you” or “Could I ask you to pray for me?” Whereas since then I’ve been to evangelical churches where people are serious about the need to pray for each other, and I wouldn’t feel odd saying those things. But I still wouldn’t go up to just anyone and ask them to pray about ‘unsafe’ topics. We need to have one or two close Christian friends we can confide in, who we know won’t see us in a worse light because of what we tell them. This is probably harder to achieve for most British people than for people from some other cultures though!

  5. I completely understand where you are coming from. I’ve always felt out of place at church. Maybe that’s why I don’t go anymore. I feel worthless usually, or at least below everyone else. Like i’m the worst sinner on earth. I also felt that I couldn’t be who I really was, like I could never tell them how into science I was or anything else….I dunno, but I really understand where you are coming from.

  6. The other day I wondered about having some church people over at Christmas, but then I decided I’d like some proper friends instead. See?

  7. Hi misti, (welcome!)

    I hope you don’t feel worthless among us here…I for one am sure to be more worthless than you.

    It’s really frustrating when someone I feel like that about says “oh yes, but I sin loads” because I’m torn between feeling that of course they don’t so I’m worthless, and that they are a real hypocrite for giving this holy impression, so actually I’m better than them.

    Twisted, aren’t I?

  8. I know what you mean, Andy. I’ve had this ‘competition’ with a friend of mine, and it makes me think of the film Spartacus:

    I’m the chief of sinners!”
    “No I’m the chief of sinners!”
    “No I’m the chief of sinners!”

    etc.

  9. I submitted something very similar before seeing this; I couldn’t agree more. I have exactly the same experience. In so far as I have Christian friends, it is because I have met them and got to know them outside the Church and in other contexts.

    Not much help – just that you aren’t alone.

    Rob

  10. You sound like someone who wants to do something.

    So I want to ask what do you want to do ?

    What really matters to you ? Answer this honestly and you will know some of what you should do.

    Some wise person said to me “A man without a plan, has planned to fail.”

    You will never change others (especially the ones you seem to meet at church) by telling them they are doing it all wrong. The only person you can directly change is yourself.

    This is not to say that you have done anything wrong but in order to solve this puzzle you will have to think about this problem a little more.

    You ask in your message what can we do, well I believe the first thing to do which you have probably done is look at yourself. Once you have established that you are living life through correct principles underlying the values and roles you lead in life and if once again you find yourself coming to the conclusion that you are not happy with these church ‘friends’ then you must decide on a plan.

    I don’t know the ins or outs of this plan but I imagine that it will be base around staying with that church or leaving it for another one if you perceive it’s values to be significantly different to your own.

    If you stay you need a game plan in order to sort out these relationships.

    One last quote by Karen Kakascik

    “The idea is to make decisions and act upon them, to decide what is important to accomplish, to decide how something can best be accomplished, to find time to work at it and get it done”

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