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It is a common phrase spoken by Christians and wrestled with by pastors, “I don’t feel connected at church.” The pastoral burden is for all Christians to be thriving in and through the ministry. When we hear something like this we immediately go into “fix-it” mode. Often times we even attempt to construct some structure around the person to help them feel connected.

But what if this didn’t help anyone? What if the problem wasn’t the ministry but the individual? What if the disconnection we feel is actually the consequence of selfishness?*

Catering to selfishness will never cure selfishness, it only fortifies it.

I find it fascinating that the church, on every level, as she applies the gospel, is self-denying. In fact, the lion’s share of the NT imperatives (commands) are calling us away from serving ourselves by serving others (i.e. Eph. 4-6).

What follows is a list, some help for those who are aiming to feel connected at church.**

  1. Pray to be impressed with God’s design in the church.
  2. Go to church on Sundays.
  3. Talk to 3 people that you do not know at church.
  4. Open up your home to have someone over (hospitality).
  5. Find opportunities to serve in ministry.
  6. Pray for your pastors, deacons and fellow church family.
  7. Talk to people about Jesus and invite them to church.
  8. Be content with the ordinary means of grace.
  9. Restart process.

As you read this list you no doubt noticed that in each case the problem is countered by self-denying service. Instead of catering to ourselves (consumeranity) believers are called to serve others (Christianity). While this may not be comfortable it is certainly biblical, and therefore, sanctifying.

Can I confess something to you? Sometimes don’t feel very connected at church. And I’m the pastor! But, guess what I do? I get to work on myself because nine times out of ten, the problem is with me. I need to get to work with the simple, ordinary means of grace. This always gets my focus off of myself and on to Christ. It helps me to remember that while the church is full of sinners, I myself am also a sinner.

The way ahead is always service through humility. God knows what he is doing with and through the church. We need to trust him, and, most often, get to work. If you are feeling disconnected or counseling those who are feeling this way, I challenge you to take an honest crack at this list. I think it will do the trick.

*I realize there can be legitimate problems in churches that could cause faithful Christians to feel disconnected. And I don’t discount that pastors can lead people into meaningful community. This posts aims to focus on the individual.
**This list assumes that there is theological and philosophical agreement with the church.

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20 thoughts on “Help for those who feel “Disconnected” at Church”

  1. Therese says:

    Awesome helpful and biblical post!! Thanks Erik!

  2. Nana A says:

    Very helpful article, thanks for sharing.

  3. Chuckt says:

    I think people need to talk to people when they meet and greet in order to make friends. Often times, it is just “Hello” or “What kind of work do you do?” and it never goes beyond that.

    Asking people questions about themselves and telling them more about yourself opens up conversation and opportunities but we never make friends if we don’t talk to others.

    I think a reason people are scared is fear. “You might hurt me” is often a wall that people see and therefore they were never comfortable to be connected.

    1. trish says:

      i agree

  4. Jeff S. says:

    Amen, brother. Many (but not all) of problems exist not outside us, but between our ears or between our head and our heart.

    If we would focus on God’s glory and the good of others, we would find more and deeper joy — at least, that’s what Jesus said.

  5. Cephas says:

    Hello Pastor, great post here. I have one question for you though. You wrote the following postscript: “**This list assumes that there is theological and philosophical agreement with the church.”

    Could you expand on that, please, and share some principles for deciding agreement? There are churches in my city that are I would prefer to worship at. But being at my present church for a few years, it feels like I’d be committing the sin of schism (somewhat endemic to Protestants, IMO) to be leaving my church for that one. If there are things that unsettle me about my present church, it’s the direction it’s headed in (the type of voices within evangelicalism that find their way into my pastor’s sermons, his emphases on “effectiveness” conceived dichotomously apart from “merely being Christians”, no recognition–as a church–of how sorely we need the ordinary means of grace and a few more things).

    Like I said, this church preaches Christ and is faithful to His gospel, far as I am able to discern. In my thinking, I can’t justify leaving because there are better ones, so I wanted to ask if you could lay down principles that should inform such a decision. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

  6. Chuckt says:

    I actually can’t feel connected at church because there are three different gospels in Evangelicalism and just the other day I got cut off and it could be for the reason I spoke against it.
    I feel that we’re being made merchandise of because we’re in associations that are run by men who don’t go to our church and one of them has women elders.
    The other local church doesn’t have Biblical elders because they exercise Lordship.
    There are few opportunities and I ask people all the time what they learned at church and few of them can answer that and they don’t open their Bibles anymore in Sunday School..
    I actually had one elder tell me they wouldn’t have membership meetings for one person even though I don’t need membership to be a Christian because you are born into the body of Christ and you can’t join it.

  7. Hello Erik, would you grant us permission to translate your article into French to publish on our blog? Thanks!

  8. Trish says:

    Sounds to me what you are saying is pointing the finger back to the person and calling them selfish?! this seems to me that you are not addressing the problem, but denying the problem, and blaming the individuals who happen to feel disconnected. and i suspect this is why so many people in church today do not admit to feeling disconnected… oh i forgot.. it’s not about our feelings… I forgot feelings has no place in it.. it’s about your faith…

    1. Erik Raymond says:

      A long time ago I realized that the common denominator in all of my problems is me. We can be on the way to solving most of our problems by realizing that we are selfish people.

    2. trish says:

      the disconnect can sometimes happen…. as I heard in a Bible Study one time…’s an us four and no more mentality. i led a Women’s Bible Study i invited others out, even invited myself to join two ladies who were walking for exercise… when one of the ladies contracted cancer…i took meals…i was on a caregiving committee etc etc But i moved to this small town to be near our grandchildren….after five years of being in the church here….i quit going at all…..Every Sunday same thing…i felt worse when I went than when I stayed home. I’ve now attempted once again to be in another church….same thing…hello, how are you,, so good to see you. I go home and tell my husband who’s sick …i can’t go back. after 5 years in this small town….if it weren’t for our grandchildren we’d leave

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  11. Justine says:

    What I found was that I made friends with people on the edges but didn’t connect inwards. Best solution was to go somewhere else.

  12. Cher says:

    Yes, let’s blame the individual for being selfish. That should be the default. This is the problem in my church. Always blaming the individual for being sinful all the time, for every single thing he or she does. That is why I can’t connect with anyone. I’m so tired of every single thing, I’m talking EVERY THING is a sin. Tired of the legalism, can’t get a tan, can’t make a mistake, can’t get into a car accident, can’t have health problems, it’s all because of the individual’s sinner-ness….so tired of hearing this. The bible speaks also of compassion. It’s very prideful to always be picking at other people’s sin constantly until they are absolutely exhausted, like I am. Now I just block it out and go and get through it so I can get out of there before someone starts accusing me of a sin that I didn’t even do.

  13. Frederic Mondin says:

    Please, would you know any translation of this article in Spanish? If it doesn’t exist, may I ask you the permission to translate it to use it with my local Church in Bolivia (mentioning credits and putting a link of course)?

    1. Erik Raymond says:

      All yours!

  14. Kevin says:

    Erik, I very much appreciated this article and was wondering if I could have permission to reprint this article for our church newsletter. Obviously, I would give appropriate credit to authorship.

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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