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Feeling Like an Outsider? My Journey to Finding Community


Have you ever felt like an outsider in church? Finding a sense of belonging in a church can be a deeply personal and, at times, daunting journey. My own path to integrating into a church community has been filled with moments of anxiety, doubt, and the fear of never truly belonging. The feeling of being on the periphery—where friendships seem established and the 'in-group' appears impenetrable—has often overshadowed my attempts to connect.


While personal spiritual disciplines like attending church and having quiet time are vital, they are just part of the picture. True Christianity involves integrating into a faith community and serving within it — our actions becoming the living gospel that draws others to Christ. This isn't a prerequisites for salvation; it's a manifestation of our faith.


Struggling with Church Community

I've spent years seeking a church community that felt right. As my needs and challenges evolved with different life seasons, it was difficult to find a spiritual home. Acknowledging the need to move on was tough, but essential for growth.


Every new church community brings its own set of anxieties. Familiar questions haunt me: Do I stand or sit? When is the right time to take communion? These seemingly small concerns can feel overwhelming when you're new and desperately trying to fit in. It's more than just learning the practices... it’s about adjusting to the liturgy and community while fixing my eyes on the cross so that my motives are right (i.e., I'm here to find a church that I can grow in and not to judge the church based on my own skewed sinful lens).


One crucial lesson I've learned is to focus on "the Lord of the church" rather than "the church of the Lord."


This perspective helps me navigate the inevitable imperfections of any church community. It also encourages me to reflect on my own reactions—why am I triggered by certain dynamics? What is the Lord trying to teach me about myself and about Him?


My journey took me from conservative to charismatic settings, initially outside my comfort zone. Yet, these experiences helped me grow spiritually and become more attuned to the Holy Spirit. Despite differences in practice, we worship the same God. We have much to gain from each other’s approaches to faith.


There’s also the fear of disappointment. What if, after all my efforts to integrate, I find myself unable to connect with the community? This fear of repeated rejection has often held me back from fully engaging, shadowed by past experiences of feeling like an outsider.


Finding My Place

Despite these challenges, I've taken steps towards finding a church and a cell group where I can truly grow. It’s not been easy, but it’s been worth it.

Currently, I worship in a setting that aligns with my preferences—a non-charismatic church with simple worship and scripture-based sermons. This environment feels right for me, but integrating into the community was still a challenge.


Initially overwhelmed by the crowd, I would leave right after services. The journey to find a suitable cell group (CG) wasn't an easy one too.


I've recently discovered joy in exploring an inter-generational CG. The diversity of life stages provides a wealth of insights and has become a source of enjoyment. The authenticity of people’s sharing in the group is refreshing.


Admittedly, opening up about my life is daunting—I've always been cautious about showing vulnerability - something about wanting to be a "strong independent woman - LOL". Okay la...or maybe I'm afraid that people can't accept me once I show them who I truly am.


During one of our sessions, I shared and asked questions more openly than usual. This act of vulnerability was met with understanding and support, which was a significant step in my journey towards genuine fellowship.

This journey has taught me that building community is an active, ongoing process. Whether you're facing a transition in career, navigating family dynamics, managing health issues, or seeking deeper friendships, the support of a church community can be invaluable.


It's important to also recognize that not every community is the right place for vulnerability. We often play roles that necessitate certain boundaries for our own protection. There are also certain communities that may cause us to stumble more than push us forward (because of different value systems).


Why share all this? Because, especially as a single person, there are aspects of life where we lack the avenues to express our struggles outside of prayer. It's vital to have spaces for godly counsel and encouragement—and yes, even admonishment when necessary. As we navigate the search for a partner and other life challenges, the support of our church community is invaluable.


They can offer prayers, provide scriptural guidance during tough times, and offer a space to share openly about our lives. If we can't be real with our church family, then where?


In light of this, I invite us to consider how deeply we are integrated into our faith communities. Are we truly doing life together? If not, why, and what can we do about it?



Conclusion: A Call to Community Engagement

This isn’t just my story; it’s a reality many face in their quest for spiritual belonging. If you feel like an outsider in your church, know that you are not alone. Many of us have walked this path, faced similar fears, and found our way through. The key is to keep reaching out, keep engaging, and be open to the journey of community building.


Consider what steps you can take to engage more deeply, how you can contribute to building a welcoming environment, and how you can support others who might also feel like outsiders.


Let’s not just attend church—let’s be the church. Let’s create spaces where everyone can feel seen, supported, and part of something greater than themselves. May God guide us all as we seek to forge deeper connections and build communities grounded in His love and truth.



Young Adult Cell Group (YACG)

For those under 40, our Young Adult Cell Group has been a vibrant place of learning and sharing. We've covered various aspects of faith, which you can explore further here (schedule, slides, FAQ...etc).


Although our resources currently limit us to those under 40yo, our upcoming open cell fellowship is open to all age group. It’s a wonderful chance to experience the warmth of fellowship among believers.


Date: 17 May 2024 (Friday)

Time: 7pm - 10pm

Venue: 5 Poh Huat Road (Kovan)

Cost: $0 (Dabao your own dinner)


Activity:

  • Dinner fellowship

  • Pictionary game

  • Small group discussion

  • Big group sharing

Sign up here.




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