NBR: finding/joining a church? — The Bump
2nd Trimester

NBR: finding/joining a church?

Neither DH nor I were brought up going to church.  I have been to a few services at different churches with friends through the years and just never really got into it.  For the most part I am pretty solidly agnostic and DH is pretty much atheist.  However we have just relocated to a new city and are having a really hard time finding a support system and friends.  I wass considering joining a church so that we can sort of establish ourselves here.  I had a friend in the last place that I lived that went just her and her DD without her DH, and I would be willing to do that but I just don't even know where to start.  Since I don't really have "religious beliefs" I don't know where to start.  I know I don't want to find an overly pushy church ("believe what we believe as we say or burn in hell") but I don't know how to start that.  Any tips??
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Re: NBR: finding/joining a church?

  • Have a you looked into a Unitarian Universalist church? DH and I are not particularly religious, but I would describe myself as spiritual. I wanted to find a church to give my kids some kind of spiritual/religious education. The UU church pulls ideas and principles from all religions, in addition to humanist and scientific thought. There is a lot of focus on compassion, community and kindness. Here is a link that might be helpful. http://www.uua.org/

    Good luck! 

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  • image Drea926:

    Have a you looked into a Unitarian Universalist church? DH and I are not particularly religious, but I would describe myself as spiritual. I wanted to find a church to give my kids some kind of spiritual/religious education. The UU church pulls ideas and principles from all religions, in addition to humanist and scientific thought. There is a lot of focus on compassion, community and kindness. Here is a link that might be helpful. http://www.uua.org/

    Good luck! 

    I second this. If you don't have particularly strong or well defined spiritual beliefs, and you are mostly looking for community, a UU church is a great place to look. I've been to a couple with friends (DH and I are Catholic), and they are very open and inclusive.

     

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  • I used to go to a United Church of Christ and it was really liberal.

  • Maybe look for local MOP's group? (Mother's of Preschoolers) They are usually a church group of moms that get together once a week.

    Otherwise have you checked out Meetup? You can do a search of the city you are moving to and checkout playgroups (or start one) in your area. I always found its easier to meet friends that way since we have a common interest. 

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  • I'm really not trying to be rude, but I find it really odd to be looking for a church solely as a social thing, when you seem to not share any of the beliefs.  Churches aren't social clubs.  There must be other organizations in the community to look into, like meet-up groups, Gymboree or Little Gym, gardening clubs, whatever.
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  • DH and I attended a non-denomination church for a long time and really liked it. They tend to be a lot more modern (people wear whatever they want) and they had lots of activities for families to get to know each other. They had "small groups" once a week which are basically groups of women/men or couples that get together and it makes it so much easier to make close friends. We moved 2000 miles away 1 1/2 years ago so I totally understand what it's like to know no one! Good luck :)
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  • Look for a non-denom church! Most other churches are ones you probably should only attend if you actually believe what they're saying/teaching your child. Non-denoms are pretty good about not forcing one particular belief. :) 
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  • image RissKay:
    Look for a non-denom church! Most other churches are ones you probably should only attend if you actually believe what they're saying/teaching your child. Non-denoms are pretty good about not forcing one particular belief. :) 

    This maybe a regional thing, but non-denominational churches in my area (Texas) are quite religious and have specif things they believe in, they just aren't part of a larger group. They are largely evangelical, and from what I've seen, they're not actually all that different from many contemporary Southern Baptist churches in the area.

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  • image LauraT25:

    image candreco:
    I'm really not trying to be rude, but I find it really odd to be looking for a church solely as a social thing, when you seem to not share any of the beliefs.  Churches aren't social clubs.  There must be other organizations in the community to look into, like meet-up groups, Gymboree or Little Gym, gardening clubs, whatever.

    I was thinking the same thing.  I would look into social groups like the ones mentioned above, play groups (you may find info at your pediatrician's office) or try signing up for evening classes (cooking, art, whatever interests you) at your local community college to find people with similar interests.  Even a 'liberal' church is still a church, and it seems like you would be starting out a friendship on a false note.  While I have plenty of friends who are religious, I would definitely not go to a church to meet people, sitting through a service talking abut things I don't believe in.

    I agree with all of this. It doesn't make sense to want to get involved in a church if you don't at least believe some of what is being taught.  Even the most modern churches have basic beliefs that you should believe if you plan to attend services (or other events) there. I also personally would not teach my child religious beliefs that I personally do not believe. 

    There are all kinds of places to meet people as others mentioned. Look for local mom's groups, sign up for classes at a community college or community center focused around your interests, get your daughter involved in activities where you can meet other moms.  I just think there are more logical places for you to meet people.  

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  • Yup, Unitarian or UCC would be a good place to start. If you want some other suggestions message me, I have helped lots of friends through this. Especially if you are looking for open-minded, all are welcome kind of churches.And don't listen to those who are saying not to try a church. Who knows? You might find a great fit; it is worth a shot! Maybe find out what kind of church they go to and steer clear.
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  • image CougFan:
    Yup, Unitarian or UCC would be a good place to start. If you want some other suggestions message me, I have helped lots of friends through this. Especially if you are looking for open-minded, all are welcome kind of churches.And don't listen to those who are saying not to try a church. Who knows? You might find a great fit; it is worth a shot! Maybe find out what kind of church they go to and steer clear.

    Sigh.  This is different than someone looking for a new church home, or wanting to be spititual without being limited by a specific church's theology.  The OP stated that she was agnostic and her H was atheist, and she didn't really sound like they were looking to explore other religious options, which is of course fine.  Unitarian, UCC and non-denominational churches are still Christian, and there's still a basic theology there that they and their kids would be working with if they got involved there.  If that's not what they believe, why would they want their kids in Sunday School, to sit through Sunday morning service, or go to Bible study?  I just don't see how there would be a "great fit" at a church, when they have no desire to be Christian.  They don't want a religion, they want a social outlet.

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  • image candreco:

    image CougFan:
    Yup, Unitarian or UCC would be a good place to start. If you want some other suggestions message me, I have helped lots of friends through this. Especially if you are looking for open-minded, all are welcome kind of churches.And don't listen to those who are saying not to try a church. Who knows? You might find a great fit; it is worth a shot! Maybe find out what kind of church they go to and steer clear.

    Sigh.  This is different than someone looking for a new church home, or wanting to be spititual without being limited by a specific church's theology.  The OP stated that she was agnostic and her H was atheist, and she didn't really sound like they were looking to explore other religious options, which is of course fine.  Unitarian, UCC and non-denominational churches are still Christian, and there's still a basic theology there that they and their kids would be working with if they got involved there.  If that's not what they believe, why would they want their kids in Sunday School, to sit through Sunday morning service, or go to Bible study?  I just don't see how there would be a "great fit" at a church, when they have no desire to be Christian.  They don't want a religion, they want a social outlet.

     

    Ok so here's how I see it as a Christian. Churches are for those that are lost not found. I'm a member at a non denom Chrisitan church that focuses on reaching those that aren't sure or just don't believe at all. So we would welcome in a new family even if it was just a way to meet people. I believe God works in sttange ways!!!

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  • image candreco:

    image CougFan:
    Yup, Unitarian or UCC would be a good place to start. If you want some other suggestions message me, I have helped lots of friends through this. Especially if you are looking for open-minded, all are welcome kind of churches.And don't listen to those who are saying not to try a church. Who knows? You might find a great fit; it is worth a shot! Maybe find out what kind of church they go to and steer clear.

    Sigh.  This is different than someone looking for a new church home, or wanting to be spititual without being limited by a specific church's theology.  The OP stated that she was agnostic and her H was atheist, and she didn't really sound like they were looking to explore other religious options, which is of course fine.  Unitarian, UCC and non-denominational churches are still Christian, and there's still a basic theology there that they and their kids would be working with if they got involved there.  If that's not what they believe, why would they want their kids in Sunday School, to sit through Sunday morning service, or go to Bible study?  I just don't see how there would be a "great fit" at a church, when they have no desire to be Christian.  They don't want a religion, they want a social outlet.

    I'm not sure UU churches really identify as Christian anymore. I have friends that are Christian and attend UU churches, but I know people that don't identify as Christian and attend UU churches. There is no specific creed. It's all very loose. 

    This is from the First UU Church of Houston:

    "From all over this great sprawling city our members find their way on Sunday morning to be together. We are theists, humanists, atheists, agnostics, pagans, doubters and seekers sitting in the pews together so that we may stand and sing, reflect on our lives and find strength to be our best selves as we head back out into the weekdays of our lives."

    So, it seems like it would fit the OP's need for a place of community and family, that falls into their own ideas of spirituality. 

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  • Even though you are agnostic/atheist, a good solid church should welcome you with open arms. However, I can't imagine a Christian church NOT talking about Christ and the Bible, so you will just have to accept that with an open mind and heart. Your child will be taught Bible lessons in sunday school which may be confusing if you are actively teaching an atheistic theology to your child at home.  Finding a MOPS group might be a a really start. They are usually held in churches, but you don't have to be a member of the church to be involved. It's a great way to meet other moms while also figuring out if the church it's being held at might be a place you'd like to attend.
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  • I think you need to evaluate what you're looking for.  While it's a nice perk to make friends as a result of joining a church - you should join one that falls in line with your values, etc.  You said you don't have religious beliefs, but you must have some or you wouldn't consider joining a church at all.  Start with what you believe and go from there :)  Good luck!
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  • image bearkatjen:
    image candreco:

    image CougFan:
    Yup, Unitarian or UCC would be a good place to start. If you want some other suggestions message me, I have helped lots of friends through this. Especially if you are looking for open-minded, all are welcome kind of churches.And don't listen to those who are saying not to try a church. Who knows? You might find a great fit; it is worth a shot! Maybe find out what kind of church they go to and steer clear.

    Sigh.  This is different than someone looking for a new church home, or wanting to be spititual without being limited by a specific church's theology.  The OP stated that she was agnostic and her H was atheist, and she didn't really sound like they were looking to explore other religious options, which is of course fine.  Unitarian, UCC and non-denominational churches are still Christian, and there's still a basic theology there that they and their kids would be working with if they got involved there.  If that's not what they believe, why would they want their kids in Sunday School, to sit through Sunday morning service, or go to Bible study?  I just don't see how there would be a "great fit" at a church, when they have no desire to be Christian.  They don't want a religion, they want a social outlet.

    I'm not sure UU churches really identify as Christian anymore. I have friends that are Christian and attend UU churches, but I know people that don't identify as Christian and attend UU churches. There is no specific creed. It's all very loose. 

    This is from the First UU Church of Houston:

    "From all over this great sprawling city our members find their way on Sunday morning to be together. We are theists, humanists, atheists, agnostics, pagans, doubters and seekers sitting in the pews together so that we may stand and sing, reflect on our lives and find strength to be our best selves as we head back out into the weekdays of our lives."

    So, it seems like it would fit the OP's need for a place of community and family, that falls into their own ideas of spirituality. 

    Bearkat is right. I attend a UU church and it is not really a "Christian" church. They do talk about Christian principles from time to time, but also other religions and schools of thought. There is no specific creed. 

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  • image candreco:
    I'm really not trying to be rude, but I find it really odd to be looking for a church solely as a social thing, when you seem to not share any of the beliefs.  Churches aren't social clubs.  There must be other organizations in the community to look into, like meet-up groups, Gymboree or Little Gym, gardening clubs, whatever.

    I agree with this. PP, you are kind of setting yourself up for disappointment if you go in with the intention that they will not preach their beliefs or expect you to believe what they are preaching if you attend their church. On the other hand, if you go in with an open mind, then I say go for it! Like a PP said, their goal is to reach the lost and broken and lonely people. If you go there thinking I am open to learning new things and evaluating what the pastor is saying, you will get the most out of church, not just in a social aspect, but a life-changing one.

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  • My first thought was also Unitarian Universalist.

    I have never attended, but I have friends who do not believe in a personal God, are not Christian, etc. who have been involved in various ways with the UU church.

    Here is what the UU says about its beliefs:

     "In addition to holding different beliefs on spiritual topics, individual Unitarian Universalists may also identify with and draw inspiration from Atheism and Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Humanism, Judaism, Paganism, and other religious or philosophical traditions.

    Our Unitarian Universalist faith has evolved through a long history, with theological origins in European Christian traditions. Today Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal faith which allows individual Unitarian Universalists the freedom to search for truth on many paths. While our congregations uphold shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists may discern their own beliefs about spiritual, ethical, and theological issues." 

    The official website also specifically says that some individual members are atheists, agnostics, etc.  

    It is just not the case that the UU is a "Christian" church or that it involves basic beliefs in God and Jesus.  I think unfortunately too many people don't realize that something like the UU is possible which is sort of sad.

    Since the UU is so theologically diverse, I see no reason why it wouldn't be happy to embrace folks who are just looking to get to know others in the community.

    I agree, though, almost any other kind of house of worship is going to involve a particular theology/particular religious beliefs. 

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  • UU is great if you are into clicky social people - in my experience, they're the equivalent of new-wave Christians, but with a secular system. If you want something a bit more calm or relaxed, you can also look into secular Buddhist temples in your region. Secular Humanism organizations are usually a great compromise, but they aren't as common to find unless you are in a major city. 

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=main&page=alg

    I agree that you'd be better off finding a weekly parenting group or other social circle free from religious affiliation. Taking your child to social gatherings with religious organizations not only feels dishonest toward the group, it's also creating a poor example for your children (i.e. "Even if you don't agree with ideas/views, you can still embrace/exploit them for the sake of making friends").  

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