Churches are Lonely – Follow Up

Roughly 2 months ago, I posted a blog post about how Churches were lonely places to be. 

It’s taken me so long to write this follow up post for a few reasons, some of which being that I firstly didn’t want to write it prematurely and not allow the previous post to have the full effect. Secondly, I wanted to make sure that a follow up post was correctly thought out and written so people didn’t misjudge my intentions. I also didn’t want to contradict the purpose of the original or even to sweep the first under the carpet.
This is a follow up post however it doesn’t mean the problem still isn’t a problem.

I had mixed responses regarding the post, mostly all being supportive and wanting to help the issue. Fewer were responses about whether such a public media was the correct way to approach it. So before I report the changes I’ve felt and seen within my own church regarding the subject, I will tackle the Public Media.

I had written my ‘essay’ firstly on my notes app on my phone after an incredibly lonely day at church. No one had said hi to me apart from the people who’s job it was to say hi to me. People who I had known pretty much all my life didn’t even give me a blink. I had originally written the essay in partly anger, partly upset and unforgiveness. My original intent wasn’t for it to go on the internet; I’d written it because I express my feelings better in words. I had then showed it to my mum so she knew how I felt without me tripping over my words (or saying the wrong thing, which I do a lot), and she read it. She heard me. She then encouraged me to post it to the blog, which I’m glad she did.

I posted my essay on this blog for reasons as follows:

  • I express my feelings better in words
  • I felt that if there were anybody else in the same situation (which there were) they needed to know it’s not just them being introverted or unsociable
  • It wasn’t just a ‘my church’ problem

I started having people contact me about how they felt exactly the way I did. I had people start talking to me at church because they were in the same metaphorical boat as me. 

A Youth Leader that I had when I was in Youth Work contacted me and asked to meet up. We went for Waffles and Ice Cream and just talked. We did talk about my blog post and how I was doing.  We also talked about how my church leader had contacted me wanting to have a meet up too. He’d been deeply upset by my blog post, not because I had offended him, but rather because he doesn’t want anybody to feel like that in his church.

He asked whether I had unforgiveness and, I’ll be honest as I was with him; Yes. I do. I’m working on that but it’s difficult to forgive being forgotten about especially when you feel forgotten about by so many people.

I actually give myself credit for the fact I didn’t start crying in front of him, because I always seem to end up a blubbering mess when talking about my feelings!

He’d also asked where will I go from here (writing the blog post). I’m still trying to figure that out too. I find it difficult to just strike up a conversation with people, even if those people I’ve known for years. My issue, as said in previous posts, is that I don’t want to inconvenience people. I hate feeling the uncertainty of whether the person likes me or whether that person wants to even speak to me.

I’m glad he didn’t just suggest for me to go talking to people, because that really showed he had listened, which sometimes I find if I have a verbal discussion with someone, I sometimes get over-talked and therefore, people miss what I’m all about.

My life long ambition is to own a cafe/restaurant accessible for everyone. So I guess, in a sense, I want to lead a social hub, where people can gather, make friends, bring friends and have a background noise of conversations. Silence, when you’re an introvert is so deafening and even though I sometimes do prefer just being alone typing away on a blog post, I do like being around people. It’s no coincidence then that my last job was Waitressing and my current job is working in a Learning Centre for Homeschooled Children where I have an active involvement with the students.

So I guess my ultimate step forward would be to start hosting my own social gatherings. Maybe they wont be so popular to start with, but I’d like to at least try. I’m a fairly good cook, so maybe I’ll provide dinner for the guys that come along.

If you’d be interested in coming along, do let me know!

I’ve also developed some other friendships in the church since the blog post. Mostly with people who have felt the same way as me so we’re of a mutual standing. I don’t think I’m at the stage of just walking up to them and having a conversation, but at least I now know there are people who feel the same. I wouldn’t have discovered that without the blog post.

I’ve also been attending a small group without my parents or Dale. Unfortunately I still don’t converse much and there are weeks I do feel lonely. However, there have been times when I’ve felt very comfortable in that setting and people engage me. I know that sounds one sided and I should be trying to equally engage them. I know that, and I’m working on it.

Finally, my intention of the article wasn’t specifically directed at my church. I have been to roughly three other churches (two in the Midlands UK and another in the south). I find the exact same thing happens. Granted, at the other south church I was hardly attending the church, mainly because of my socializing problems and the fear of just sitting on my own looking like an idiot. I’m not naive enough to think it’s just happening in my church and moreover, only happening to me, because it’s not. I knew that before I even wrote the post. The problem was, nobody was addressing it and some didn’t even want to admit it.

Has the problem magically gone away? No. It hasn’t. However, I’m also not naive enough to think that one 2000+ word essay on the internet would enact a domino-like effect and change the complete runnings of the church. If it did, the problem would have been addressed long before now and solved equally as long before now. It hasn’t, but it’s a working progress.

 

To those who still don’t recognise this within a church, please just glance around, see how many people are just sitting on their own in the congregation and notice how many people just walk straight passed them. Yes, they probably don’t want to socialize… and yes if they did they could make the effort too. But what if they a petrified of other people not wanting to talk to them and them being a nuisance to other people? What if they don’t have that confidence? Please, just go say hi to them. Help them!