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Left Church, What Do I Do Now?


swdee
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I've been raised as a christian in the church so that's all I really know socially.

Over the past 10 years I've been in and out of the church due to finding their beliefs abhorrent.

 

The problem I've found those times and now is I find it hard to know what to do outside of church!

I know you can join sports clubs etc but that costs a lot of money, and if I went into a pub on my own to meet people I wouldn't know what to!

 

I love socialising so I'm finding this hard, how have others coped after leaving?

 

I don't really want to go back but that's why I have gone back in the past.

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Hello and welcome!

 

It's a bit problematic when one bases his entire social life on any single interest group. I guess religious affiliation is probably the most common scenario.

 

Truly, there IS life after church! It takes some time for most people to generate a new network of friends, but it will happen. Unlike your church experience, now not all your friends are required to hold the same beliefs as you - you are free to befriend atheists, Pagans, Deists, Muslims, Jews and even Christians! The pool of possible friendships has just grown exponentially.

 

Maybe to get a jump start you could look at things like this: http://lewes.skepticsinthepub.org/

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Meetup groups are invaluable when trying to build a new network of friends visit meetup.com there are even atheist/agnostic groups that meetup on sundays if you like to keep to that schedule =D and congrats on leaving the church its never an easy thing to do and yes building up a new network of friends takes time but it is definitely worth it.

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I agree - Meetups are great!  I have joined 2 Meetup Groups in my area - one is an Atheist group, and the other is for Secular Humanists, but there is a lot of overlap and many people belong to both.  Some of the activities so far have included dinners at local restaurants or pubs, a book club, attending lectures, hikes, and this Saturday we are having a "Summer Solstice BBQ potluck" at a local park.  There's no pressure - people attend the activities they want to.  (Which is VERY unlike church - haha! )

 

Until I found these groups, I did not know a single non-believer, and felt very alone in my new-found atheism.  It was really stepping out of my comfort zone to walk into these meetups the 1st time, but I am so glad I did.  I found them to be warm, welcoming, and supportive. 

 

Welcome to this site as well, and good luck to you!

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I've been raised as a christian in the church so that's all I really know socially.

Over the past 10 years I've been in and out of the church due to finding their beliefs abhorrent.

 

The problem I've found those times and now is I find it hard to know what to do outside of church!

I know you can join sports clubs etc but that costs a lot of money, and if I went into a pub on my own to meet people I wouldn't know what to!

 

I love socialising so I'm finding this hard, how have others coped after leaving?

 

I don't really want to go back but that's why I have gone back in the past.

 

http://wiccaorguk.wordpress.com/joining/

 

http://www.sussexmasons.org.uk/

 

http://www.oto-uk.org/contact

 

http://www.iotbritishisles.org/index.html

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You have to diversify and learn new things. Becomes part of the growth and recovery process to broaden our minds and experience.

You will want to learn what you enjoy doing and pursue those things how ever you can. Redefine yourself.

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I also suggest meet ups. That may sound like you are going from one social circle based on religion to another based on non-religion, but it is not the same thing at all. Many of the atheist meetup folks have experienced what you are experiencing, so finding some of them locally can help you through the transition. Their compassion astounds me. Eventually you will find a few who are true friends, and you won't need the social apparatus of the "meet up" any more. There are other meet up groups in my area not based on religion or lack thereof, such as hiking together, going to see old movies at the artsy theater, making crafts, all kinds of stuff. You have more options than you think.

 

Now that you are free of the religious boundary, you may recall a coworker or former coworker who would be a fun match. Or maybe a neighbor. Who knows. If you put in the effort to hang with someone, and they put in the same effort in return, that's a good sign. You are going to meet some dead ends. The world is open to you now, so don't be afraid.

 

In my city there is a community college and a bunch of art centers that offer short-term, inexpensive classes for adults (automotive repair, painting, jewelry making, art appreciation, and on and on). You may find a kindred soul in one of those classes.

 

Don't worry... You will find your way and be so much happier for it. Keep coming here for support and questions! Best of luck to you.

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Thanks all for your help and the links.

I'm actually not an atheist still believe in a creator, makes logical sense to me, but fed up with religion so don't mind going to free-thinkers groups etc.

 

Also would be nice to find groups just for fun.

 

Looked on Meetup before but not really been to many, I'll certainly have another look!

And spend some money on inexpensive classes or sports.

 

I do feel freer, not having to put up with christians asking why I wasn't at church and having to make an excuse!

 

But then I'm going to have to put up with some christian friends (I do have 2 or 3 good ones) trying to get me to come back, what's best to say to them?

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Welcome, swdee! Just be honest with your Christian friends. Set some boundaries. Tell them that you require them to respect you in your beliefs just as you respect them in theirs. If you never want to set foot in a church again tell them so. Hopefully they will respect that. If not, you may lose them, but you will have your self-respect. Cheers!

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I also recommend Meetup. That's where i found our local atheists and freethinkers group, and i've been to several of their meetups. I've found the acceptance that i'd been looking for all along, something i was never going to find in religion.

 

Now that you've got more free time on your hands, you can do whatever you like. Is there something that you've been wanting to do but never got around to it on account of church sucking up your time? Do that.

 

Lastly, you can tell those xtian friends that you've decided not to have church as a part of your life anymore. They may push you for details, and they may try to argue with you about why you left. In this case, it's best to keep it simple. If they're good friends, then they'll understand, in which case you can tell them the rest of the story if you want to. Either way, don't let them guilt trip you into going back. Don't be surprised if those xtian friends eventually drift away or suddenly want nothing to do with you. I really hope this doesn't happen in your case, but at least prepare yourself if this is what it comes to.

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The least offensive or confrontational things you can say to friends just let them know you're looking around to other communities and such because you feel you want to grow more, that you feel you're out-growing the one community.  You want to expand.  You'll have to work it out based on how much you value their friendships and whether you want to continue developing those outside of their church environment.  

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Get involved in the things that you enjoy, because that is the best way to meet like-minded people. After my deconversion, just for kicks I took voice lessons and found out I have a really nice singing voice. Coupled with the new found confidence I have now that the constant invisible "spiritual war" disappeared, I was able to run with it. Getting involved with the local jazz singers has been a wonderful time for the past few years. There are people of all kinds of faiths, non-faiths, and backgrounds there. I hope to start karate lessons in the next month because I always wanted to.

 

Finding a community where you really get to know folks takes time. 99.999% of the church people I knew never bothered to find out why I stopped coming to church. The couple of friends who maintained friendship with me simply look past our differences.

 

I think the biggest difference is that most folks on the outside of religion don't think of themselves as their "brother's keeper", so they won't typically ask probing questions or really tolerate such behavior from others until they really get to know you. Church can give the feeling of intimacy without a foundation for it other than a shared myth.

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What are your interests and hobbies? I realise that these may have been stunted by your involvement in church community. But what were they once upon a time?

 

Sounds like you might have an interest in sport and exercise, but be short on funds for gym membership? Running and triathlon groups may be inexpensive.

 

Some others have suggested music. Jazz, blues and folk are very participative genres, even if you just go along to listen. Quite a lot of these music venues are pubs or serve alcohol, which is a useful social lubricant.

 

Folk and blues tend to have a degree of social commentary which is non-religious or even anti-religious.

 

Here is the URL of a couple of my favourite UK folk artists expressing their views about religion. Appalling recording! The CD is MUCH better!

 

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I'm lucky that I'm pretty content with my own company so I don't really get lonely over the weekends or anything.

 

If you work, that can be a good place to find friends. But not always.

 

I noticed you like walking. Have you looked into the Ramblers, or other walking groups?

 

Volunteering can also be a good way to meet people with a similar interest.

 

As for what to say to your Christian friends, that's a tough one. I hoped to keep my friends when I left the church, but sadly had to close the door on some friendships because they just spent the entire time asking me to come back. My church was a pretty fundamentalist one though, maybe yours is different and your friends will respect your decision to stop attending church.

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Thanks again everyone, I am interested in music so that's an avenue to explore, and maybe karate!

I do have a handful of good christian friends like I said but the other night they spent most of the time talking about church and moaning about it!

I just didn't get involved and found it both amusing and sad.

 

I said to one of them why don't you leave but he said he has friends there. The same trap I was in, thought I'd have to go to see friends but put up with all the shit. But true friends will keep in touch anyway.

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