How Does Church Make You Feel?

Feelings. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Feelings

Note: God is present and loves us whether we feel it or not.

When asked how I feel about The Church in general and a single church in particular, I often give thought answers, not feeling answers:

I think they are going to close in the next year.

I believe they are doing amazing things.

I know they have some interesting plans in the works.

How does The Church or a church make me feel? Hopeful? Tired? Sad? Joyful? Excited?

How are you feeling about your church? Does your congregation make you angry? Weary? Energized? Inspired? Filled with the Spirit? Loved?

Again, God is with us whether we feel it or not. God has called us to be The Church whether we feel it or not.

To feel abused, infuriated, beaten down, betrayed, lonely, or excluded is never okay – especially in church. And yet I’m concerned that we who lead churches are falling away from those practices and events that make people feel safe, connected, and joyful. We sometimes choose efficiency and cost-cutting at the expense of those things that make us feel like The Church.


My denomination used to meet in a different city’s convention center every two years with people coming from all over the country and world to gather for General Assembly. There were meet-ups. There was an Exhibition Hall where we could learn what our military chaplains and camps and missionaries and activists were doing. Connections were made. There was random swag. But for the sake of cost-cutting, there are no more Exhibition Halls, no more global reunions. What made us feel like family feels lost.

Congregations have eliminated retreats, scholarships for kids to go to camp, and even mission projects because they cost money that we no longer have. And yet we continue to put on annual fundraisers that we’ve done “forever” or perpetuate other traditional events that no longer have a a missional impact. It’s hard to get volunteers for them and they might even lose money.

I’m wondering about looking at our calendars and ongoing activities in terms of considering how they make us feel. Do we feel dread? Irritation? Or do we feel utter joy and energy?

Jesus wept. And laughed and hurt and felt compassion and anger. Too many of us are going through the motions without much emotion. What does that say about our spiritual lives?

Things that made me feel something recently:

  • I felt deep joy to hear about one church whose children’s choir learned some old hymns and then visited several retirement homes to sing to residents. Some of the elders who had not spoken in years sang along.
  • I felt tearful gratitude when my preaching group prayed for me while laying hands on my shoulders last week.
  • I felt light-hearted when about 30 colleagues met for a coffee house Happy Hour in April with no agenda except to hang out.
  • I felt deeply moved when participating in the ordination of a new pastor yesterday whose various calls have included Italian Translator, 5th Grade Teacher and Lactation Specialist. And now, she is so clearly called to serve a little congregation in our Presbytery.

My friends, this is Church. Can you feel it?

Image of singer Morris Albert who sang the ever-popular Feelings.

One response to “How Does Church Make You Feel?

  1. Wonder how the meaning of these various phrases changes when you change the word “church” to “congregation”?


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