Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Outsiders

Have you ever felt like the "outsider"?

Here is a story of a couple and their recent experiences with the church.

Right now, my wife and I feel like outsiders. Some people in the group we meet with on Sunday mornings seem to treat us, especially my wife, like we don't belong. Why? Well, our best guess is that we do not meet the "good Christian" standards.

You see this really all started a few months ago when the vocational pastor came to us to say that he has been really burdened for us. At the time we had missed a few Sunday meetings. We had wonderful excuses for missing them (not that they were needed), but we were out of town, my wife was sick, we decided to rest on one Sunday, etc. I suppose he was trying to be polite, caring, even loving. Truthfully, it seemed more condemning than anything.

Since then things have been worse. My wife says she gets awkward looks. I do not tend to notice these things, but I sense that some of the "leaders" think of me as a type of nuisance. I have a tendency to understand things a little different than they do. We have not been able to attend regularly at all this summer, and that is probably a big part of it. But we have had some major family obligations that have kept us literally out of state every weekend for about a month.

We have been around for the past two weekend though. What really gets us is that they planned and held a family fun day a few miles away from us (within our subdivision) and they never called told us about it, or asked us to come. The vocational pastors wife at least told me that she told him to call us... he said that he thought we were out of town again.

Are we wrong to feel like we're being treated like outsiders?
What do you all think? Have you experienced similar things? Are you in the midst of these feelings? How are you handling it?

8 comments:

Aussie John said...

Lew,

Brother! Welcome to the club.

Allan said...

I've also been told I should "plan my life around church commitments" - and received SMSs to ask me where I was if I didn't pitch.

When I told them that I am not under the law anymore, I also got those glaring eyes.

Joel Spencer said...

Have been there... have several friends there right now. May we all learn to run hard after the Lord and close our ears to the opinions of men.

Lew said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

I know they have encouraged this couple.

God's Glory,
Lew

Gary Harris said...

Lew,

Brother, I know you, and I love you. Here's my advice. If you are not seeking God, then do it; and if you are seeking God, then continue to do it. Don't allow the institution, the building, or any of the people who covet those things cast dark shadows on your walk with God. Love them as yourself, but don't allow their attitudes to bring you discouragement or cause you to sin. I am in a similar boat with my church. I often wonder if people consider me a big disappointment because I went to seminary and didn't go into vocational ministry. I wonder...but I don't care.

Gary

C. Marie Byars said...

Try working in a church in a town that's going towards a real retirement population. I'm not just real young anymore, but we have those that feel the world has not had anything redeeming left in it since about 1957. God is gracious, no matter, what, even to the "uptight". That was a hard one for me to get over for a long time, but it's true. It's grace that gets you through, too. It's always grace, so bask yourself in that for a little while, and then look around and see what sort of service is right for you all, under the Lord's guidance. You don't have to be a "martyr" to a cause.

Len said...

When I read your post it seemed as though I might have written it just this past weekend.
I have also felt as though I was an outsider in the church where I attend (when I do attend!)
I have expressed myself very plainly concerning my feelings about church and the lack of relationships within it.
Because of my frankness I have offended many people.
However, I do not feel as though I owe them an apology just because they are offended.
Some church members feel as though the "sheep" should follow without complaint. However, I feel as though the shepherds should lead with concern for their flock.
Some shepherds tend to view those who express their unhappiness as being troublemakers and therefore are treated with expressions of displeasure such as the "funny looks" that your wife was picking up on. Withdrawing friendship and love is a tactic to make the deserters repent.
My family often used this on me and in fact when my father died they told me that I was no longer a part of the family. It's a long story as to why they did itso you'll just have to wonder about that. Let me suffice to say that I went through many years of depression and despair over it. Then after about 15 years they suddenly decided that I had suffered enough and offered to welcome me back into the family. But by then I had decided that they had done me a favor and I didn't want a relationship with them.
Maybe your church is doing you a favor, too.
Len

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