Why do I hate church?

Every one of my weekends is ruined by church. From Saturday lunchtime I’m ratty, and by Saturday evening I’m very nervous, and often don’t want to go to bed because of what’s coming the next morning. On Sunday lunchtime I’m filled with a deep sense of relief, and I can get on with my life.


I honestly don’t know. I’ve always been like this. I remember having tantrums about having to go every Sunday when I was quite young. I’ve never enjoyed church, or felt neutral towards it (except for a few weeks when I was at uni when I used to meet a certain young lady on the way).

In the style of “The curious incident of the dog in the night-time,” here is a list of some things I don’t like about church:

  • Talking to people
  • Singing
  • The first is probably a major part of it, and the second is completely minor. But really this doesn’t explain it.

    It’s always been a totally irrational thing for me. I don’t feel like I’ve got any great hurt from previous churches, and I certainly don’t have any problem with my current church. In fact we’ve started going to a new service we’ve set up recently, and almost everyone who goes I either consider a friend, or would genuinely like to know better. I really like the people, and would like to have them round for dinner (after church, of course, so I’m in a good mood).

    I wonder whether it’s a “spiritual” thing, or a “psychological” thing in some way. I think my parents’ attitude to church was always quite ambivalent.

    Does anyone feel like me?

    What can I do about it?

    Join the Conversation


    1. I’ve never really felt like that about church. Since I became a Christian at least, I’ve always looked forward to church as a highlight of my week, mainly because it means meeting lots of my friends and it feels like I belong there, and I usually get encouraged by it. (Though I do also have a tendency recently to sit there feeling feverish and pessimistic about life, and enjoying the songs about struggles and desert places.)

      For a while I disliked the bit in the service where you have a break and introduce yourself to your neighbour, but I don’t mind that now, as I find it easier to chat to strangers now.

      I was trying to imagine if I feel like that about anything. When I was at school, I always felt apprehensive about PE lessons the day before, and during the day, but once the lesson was actually going, I usually enjoyed it. And when I’m going to a party, I usually feel it’s a big effort and I don’t want to socialise, but once I’m there I enjoy it. Do you feel uncomfortable once you’re actually in the service, or just in anticipation?

    2. One of my biggest problems is sermons. I hate sitting there feeling really uncomfortable when the preacher says something faintly wild like, “Evangelism is God’s job; discipleship is our job.” You can imagine ways in which you could agree, but you also feel as though it’s really misleading. This happens to me regularly.

    3. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to bother me very much at all. I’m generally happy to disagree with a sermon, or take some of it on board, or be really moved by it depending.

      Of course, as we’re discussing on the message board, this is not true of the predestination question for me because for some reason it hits a very sensitive nerve for me.

      Fortunately my minister seems to be somewhere near my views on that so I don’t have to confront it too often.

    4. Why? Is it totally irrational as you say, or is the conversation artificial or cringeworthy or something?

    5. I mentioned your feelings to a friend of mine this evening and he said, “Maybe he should change and go to one of those nutty churches.”
      “What do you mean, like a postmodern church?”
      “No, they’re really nutty.”
      I didn’t get to find out what he had in mind.

    6. You’ll probably see this as a cop-out solution, but why not just not go to church? I mean, *hate* is a pretty strong emotion, and maybe it’s better not to put yourself in a situation that inspires hatred within you. Maybe you could at least have a break from church. I prefer to read the Bible by myself and often feel at my most ‘spiritual’ when alone, outside and surrounded my nature.


    7. I think that’s very tempting, but I don’t think that’s what God wants me to do. I think he wants me to put myself into that situation even though I don’t like it.

    8. Well, you could always avoid them. I disappear pretty quickly if there’s no one I want to talk to. Or are you worried they’d think there’s something wrong with you if you did?

    9. I agree with you on the feeling ‘spiritual’

      Many times I feel ‘spirtiually dirty’ in church. Almost like it is contrived and hence it doesn’t feel right.

      Whereas outside (preferably with a good view) all alone talking to God seems so much more uplifting and real.

    10. Midge,

      If a preacher says faintly wild things every time he speaks, I feel as though I should/can only respond to the wildest things. I don’t want to be constantly critical towards him.

      Believe me, there are very wild things that I am responding to.

    11. I’m like Andy – I often don’t like being at church, but feel that it’s a very important thing for me to do. If the church is Jesus’ body, and I’m to be part of the body, I feel that I have to spend time with that body. Even if, or particularly if, it’s sick, or I’m sick – both of which I’m sure are true.

    12. Yeah, but I think by balancing this with giving yourself time to reflect properly on God’s self and trying to listen to him on my own I might be better able to deal with church. So thanks ~, I’ll bear it in mind when church seems too much to deal with maybe I’ll think about going for a walk before or afterwards.

    13. You will probably find that there are a lot of people in your church who feel exactly the same way as you (don’t know if that will be comforting to you in any way!). Most people I know find an element of church uncomfortable and it is usually the bit where they say “introduce yourself to someone you don’t know” – cringe! It is funny how often people use that break to go to the loo or get a drink (anything to avoid talking to new people!). I used to really struggle with that part of the church service but I have gradually got used to it and have actually spoken to some lovely people!

      I don’t know what to suggest to you in order to make church suddenly seem more appealing. Do you pray before you go to church? That might help you mentally prepare. It sounds as though you should pray on a Saturday night so that you actually get a good night’s sleep!

    14. Thanks for the advice, and especially the suggestion to pray – I should pray about this more than I have I think. Unfortunately, praying doesn’t often help me sleep in my experience, but anyway…

      As for others feeling the same way, the other day I did the refreshments at church and was surprised at how full the kitchen was with people who wanted to help out with washing up etc. Then it struck me that they had found a good way of getting out of the nightmare of “fellowshipping”.

      (Nomination for the worst word ever.)

    15. In my church there’s a student meal in the evening after the service with time to ask the preacher questions. That’d be a good opportunity to bring things up without sounding like you’re just being critical, if there was something like it in your church.

    16. Andy,

      Hating going to Church may be about the whole having to confess your faith in Jesus publicly in front of people who for all you know feel different.

      To me it is like making the purest part of your reasoning – God – subject to how others may or may not complement it. Of course in view that people of this country do not see themselves as officially Christian, it could be that old feeling of when you go to church you are in fact saying that you are holier than some on the outside.


      Yours Lk,

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