Finding a Spiritual Community

Should you join a church in which you like the congregation (a lot) but feel completely uninspired by the leadership?

I very much resonate with the principles, the vibe and the people at the UU church I have been visiting, but the regular minister as well as the visiting minister are not at all impressive, in my opinion.  How much should that matter?

The regular minister’s method of speaking is to ask questions he already knows the answers to and elicit all kinds of incorrect responses from the congregation before he finally tells us the right answer.  That annoys me when teachers do it and it annoys me when preachers do it.

The visiting minister’s style is to drone on and on until I want to fall asleep (ironically her sermon was about listening).  Her mechanical sing-song rhythm combined with her tired, cliché messages (I’m pretty sure we know already that we have to keep quiet with an open heart to actually hear someone) are the opposite of inspiring.  If you’re going to remind people of something they already know, for heaven’s sake throw in some new, fresh angle or compelling characters or amazing story, or at least deliver it with passion.

I thought I’d finally found a church home, but now I feel I’m back to square one.

Do you have a church home or other spiritual community?  How much do you like the leader?  How much should your like or dislike of the leader impact your attachment to the congregation?

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4 responses to “Finding a Spiritual Community

  1. Hi Elena,
    I just read your response to Dionna’s “Love the Behavior” post. 🙂

    I don’t do much “shoulding” but I can relate to your question of choosing a spiritual community based on leadership or congregation.

    We occasionally attend a Southern Baptist church largely because of the people we know and enjoy visiting with. The pastor does his job for the majority of the congregation, following traditional Christian principles. There is no UU or Unity church near us. The closest are at least a 90 minute drive.

    I would personally MUCH prefer a Unity church. Of course, regardless of where one goes there is a chance of the leader being so-so or some in the congregation being people I don’t connect deeply with.

    I do focus on each person’s spirit when I enter or engage in any spiritual community and see what happens from there. It seems that even in “open minded” belief systems there will be people who are really close minded – just in an open minded sort of way 🙂 I choose to remain open, no matter where I am.

    All in all, trust yourself. To me, the true church is inside each one of us.

  2. Amy, thank you so much for your feedback! It’s nice to hear the choices and experiences of like-minded seekers…

    I love your line “The true church is inside each one of us,” and I couldn’t agree more! For a long time this felt like enough, but as I progress, I feel almost a desperation to share parts of my journey, not so much “Listen to me” as much as “let’s just sit here and hold hands a sec before we get back on the road.” I don’t know if that makes sense. I thought maybe I could find a church that would serve as a spiritual truck stop of sorts! 😀 But now I’m not sure that’s what I need.

    I appreciate your companionship here! And I’m sorry your comment had to be “approved,” I thought I’d disabled that function.

  3. I have been to lots of UU congregations, and there are so many differences from one to another. For me, I think that the fellowship in the congregation is more important to me than the leadership. Not to say that the leadership isn’t also important, but it is not my top priority I guess. When I moved here (to NC), I was aware that there were several UU congregations around and figured I would visit each of them and then choose which I liked best to attend. It turned out that the first one I visited, I liked! I did eventually visit another, just because I felt like I ought to see what else was available, but I didn’t feel the need to make the rounds.

    Since then, we have had a lot of changes in leadership. Our long-time minister left, we got an interim minister, then a new minister, then he left too, now we have another interim minister… So we have been a little unsettled in our church for a while in terms of leadership, and it’s not over yet. And we have lost several members because of this, when they preferred the minister who was gone over the one that replaced him. And though I am not as excited about our ministers as I once was, I am sticking it out because at this point my relationships with the other members of the fellowship are more important to me than the leadership. I have moved to a different town, and there are UU fellowships that are closer to my new home, but I have continued going to my old church through all this time because of the congregation, not the minister.

  4. Thanks for your perspective, Alicia, I think if I could get to know the congregation well I might have a similar experience, but insulated as I am by the whining, crying little people I bring with me, I feel like I can’t reach more of a depth than just to realize that I do like them a lot, but I don’t know how much more there is for me than that… maybe my belonging to a community will just have to wait until my kids are older. I’ll add it to the list.

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