Christians: I've Somewhat Come Back to My Faith. Now What?

For the longest time now I’ve been struggling with spirituality. I didn’t know what I believed (I described myself as an agnostic), but felt there was something missing from my life. So I started to pray nightly and slowly but surely, that begin to make me feel more connected and grounded. Eventually I’ve sort of reconciled non-belief with a general sense of God as love and all that’s resulted into a mis-mash of something I’m comfortable with.

However, since I no longer wish to return to my fundamentalist roots and most organized religion puts me off, I’m not sure where to go from here. So I’m asking Christians (who are closest in theory to how I’d like to be) if you have a perspective to share on steps to take. I’ve started by looking for a church home (something liberal and dedicated to social causes), but beyond that I’m lost.

Any and all help will be appreciated. :slight_smile: And just because this thread deals with what it does, I ask that all who participate be respectful of one another. Thank you.

Welcome back! Luke 15:1-10. :smiley:

I would recommend that you look for a church that also helps with spiritual growth and development as well as social service. Because you have started the process, and it needs (in my view) to be nurtured as much as you need to do good works. If you can find one that does something like the Alpha course, that might be a good, non-fundamentalist path to begin.

Again, welcome back. Job 5:8.

Regards,
Shodan

faithfool, I’ll be keeping you in my prayers, but I’m not sure I could be much help otherwise. Yes, I’m a believer, but I have a major dislike for organized religion. It took us forever to find a church we liked that we could both go to. My husband and I were both raised Southern Baptist, but dislike some of their policies.

We ended up in a Southern Baptist church, of all places. We like the church, they have all kinds of things for the children to be involved in, and they seem to like us. But we are in charge of our children’s spiritual upbringing, and we are open with our children about the differences between what we believe and what the denomination teaches.

I wanted to try the Unitarian Universalists myself, but my husband would not feel comfortable there.

Shodan, thanks for the Alpha link! I took a quick look, and it is fascinating. There is one in my town!

Just adding that the United Church of Christ tends toward the very liberal and open-minded in terms of policies and teachings. Unitarianism can be a good home as well but it will probably vary a whole lot more between congregations than many Christian denominations do. Some are Christian-lite, some pagan, some humanist.

I forgot about the UCC, Ferret Herder.

Maybe you aren’t ready for a church at the moment. How about participating in some generic Christian-aligned service organization? The Salvation Army, Girl Scouts, or maybe a soup kitchen, something like that? You’d be doing some charity work in the company of other believers, but without all the preaching and such…

I’ll second Unitarian Universalism. Congregations differ, but in Texas you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a group that’s real strong in open-minded theism.

http://uua.org/aboutus/findcongregation/results.php?state=TX

All I have to add to this thread (for the moment) is my appreciation for faithfool - if you can come back to Christianity after years of being a Doper then you have a better grasp on religion than most people (who may turn away from Christianity after thinking critically over the rational posts on the board that question the tenets of the faith.)

If you’re looking to a liberal church dedicated to social causes, you might want to check out the Episcopal Church. Non-fundamentalist and as a whole, fits your description. The bonus is that within the church, there is a wide variety of congregations: some far-out liberal, most middle of the road, some fairly conservative (but even the most conservative are fairly liberal compared to many other denominations). A wide variety of music from traditional hymns to modern pop songs and music from around the world.

The only downside is that its a shrinking church with a fair amount of internal dissention right now (you may have seen the news). But if you check out a couple you’re bound to find one you like.

EDIT: I’ll second the recommendation of the Alpha course, especially as you dip your toes back in the water.

Speaking as a guy who went from Catholicism to suicidally depressed to agnosticism to a sort of theistic Zen Buddhism, I’d say Juliana has the right idea–find a church where you can get along with the people and the feeling, and keep your own mind about the particulars of the message.

I’m glad you’ve found a place where you’re happy. That’s the single most important thing about religion. As Aitken-Roshi said: “What if the truth hurts someone or causes pain? Then it’s not really truth.”

The Catholic Church is, and always has been, committed to social justice. And you can find very contemporary music at Life Teen Masses. Organized religion? Yes of course, but if you concentrate on the fact that God gave us His Church to assist us in leading just and spiritual lives, the organization and structure can be a very comforting and solid foundation. If you live in a town with the university, look up the Newman Center. The relaxed atmosphere full of friendly caring people is frequently just what many people are looking for.

I’m offering a prayer for you too! :slight_smile:

Hey FaithFool , I came in here to say hey and recommend maybe a UU as well.

  • TD, licensed minister

Someone on the boards said their therapist recommended a Quaker church to them as a means to meet people and get a little more spiritual. As a lapsed Lutheran, I read about what goes on at a local meeting and it seemed pretty good to me.

Basically you go in, have some quiet meditation time within a group, shake hands and then eat.

Wow everyone! Thank you so much for all your help and prayers (and dhkendall, you made me blush). You’ve all given me much food for thought and I’ll definitely be reading up further on the links provided. I can’t thank y’all enough.

As to UU, I tried one a long time ago, but it just didn’t really feel as much like a church as I’d like. But of course, that might have been that specific moment in time and I need to give it another shot. On our list of places to try though, we’d been leaning toward Episcopal. Several have had ministries geared towards gays and lesbians (which is where my heart lies). Now I’ll have to add the United Church of Christ too.

Also thanks for the suggestion Oakminster. I certainly wouldn’t mind adding some more volunteer work to my life and something like the Girl Scouts would be right up my alley. Great idea!

I think I’ll now read up on the interesting information you all have shared. I love the Dope!!

I personally just go ahead and attend the Assembly of God church I was raised in, although my beliefs have varied somewhat from what theirs. It honestly very rarely becomes an issue, and when it does, it’s something easily dismissable.

In other words, I agree with the recommendation that you don’t dismiss a church because they officially believe differently. Just try to find one that is comfortable. But it also needs to be somewhat challenging, to keep you from falling into a lull. You don’t want your spiritual journey to stagnate.

Have you talked to the Quakers?
Excellent history with social justice issues and very much in line with what I was reading in your OP as to how you’re now experiencing God.

Other than that, there are the standard more liberal denominations (UCC, UU) and the mainline denominations (which tend to be liberal-er, but not liberal) (Episcopalians, the ELCA, Methodists, and sometimes Presbyterians). Which are good to try. Other than that, if you’re not already, pray that God leads you where God wants you to go. Last time I was searching for a church, I ended up in a place that only had about 1/3rd of the criteria I thought I was looking for, but ended up being the right place for me then.

You’re welcome. Might not wanna tell them an atheist sent ya, though. :wink:

The instructions is seek the Lord, I take that as anyway you know how. When you seek Him it is His job to realize that and He will fond you.

What you say about organized religion, is IMHO not what you want, but to personally know God. Organized religion is not that personal relationship.

Well sometimes pain can contain a learning experience-tho you are of course talking about something a bit different here.

Kinda sorta sounds like where I’ve been [1st paragraph]: all I can do here is, as is my usual idiom, recommend some books. My angle here is the need for Christianity to update itself, or perish.

Original Blessing, by the late Rev. Matthew Fox (who recently passed on BTW).

Esoteric Christianity, by Ann Besant.

Lost Christianity, by Jacob Needleman.

Walking the Path of ChristoSophia, by Cynthia Avens.

Prayers abound!

Take your time, go slowly and with prayer and reflection, and don’t be afraid to “shop”. Visit a church a few times and talk to some of the members. If there are two UCC or ELCA congregations near you, visit both. One may be a terrible “fit” and one just your speed. And be ready for whatever congregation or denomination you end up in to be temporary.

After 15 years of being “Christian but not with any congregation”, I spent about two years asking questions, visiting places, and getting my beliefs together. My first stop, the first place I actually joined, was Methodist. They were close to me and I felt a kinship there; they were a good fit but not a great fit. In the course of my time there (a year), I got to see and know the ELCA better and when I spent time with them, the fit wasn’t just good but GREAT! So I transferred. Both are in “full communion” so it was simple but even had they not been, this still isn’t tough.