Why Don’t I Feel Like I Belong in Church?

Written By Lee Ching Wann, Malaysia

I have been attending the youth service at my church for five years. This was where I planted my roots and grew spiritually.

I was brought up in a Buddhist family, but had a childhood friend who came from a Christian background. Her mom invited me to join a vacation Bible school program and from then, I started attending Sunday school on and off. Truth be told, I did not attend Sunday school to learn about God. In fact, I never took church seriously. I was just there to be with my friend.

As we grew older, we decided it was time to move on to the youth service. It was during a youth camp that I had a personal encounter with God. A lady came up to me on the last night of camp and prayed for me. As she prayed, I felt God’s presence for the first time. At that moment, I decided to accept Christ. Since then, I have become more involved in serving at church.

Over time, I have experienced much spiritual growth, but there is something I continue to struggle with—feeling like a stranger in a place which was meant to provide a sense of belonging. For years, the feeling of loneliness was something that never went away despite being surrounded by people. Often, I found myself thinking:

“Everyone seems to have a church family. Where is mine?”

As selfish as my question may sound, I am human and yearn for a sense of belonging. For reasons unknown to me, it has been difficult to get beyond surface level conversations with my friends at church. Everyone seemed to have their own groups of friends, while I just couldn’t find people to connect with. They were close to one another like a family, and eventually, I grew tired of not being able to fit in. I felt like an outsider. Aside from the weeks when I served in church, my presence seemed insignificant. As each week passed by, the feeling of discouragement to attend church grew stronger.

I was not alone in this. Both my childhood friend and another friend of mine felt the same way. Eventually, one moved to another church and the other one simply stopped coming.

It was all the more disappointing because I didn’t face such struggles in school or at work. These experiences somehow only happened to me at church—but being connected here was more important than anywhere else, because the Christian life was never meant to be a solitary one. For years I’ve been praying for a church family, but God seemed to be silent. As my discouragement set in, I started asking if I should stop attending the youth service. And I did, for a few months.

One day, however, God opened my eyes and led me to this verse:

“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

At that moment, I realized that the church is made up of imperfect people—including me. It is a place for equipping imperfect people like us, so that we can grow together in Christ.

God also pointed me to another verse from Ephesians 4:16, which says, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

The phrase “every supporting ligament” caught my eye. This emphasizes the significance of each member of the church in building up the body of Christ. I realized that—as unimportant as I felt—I am still a member of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:15 says, “Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” Though my feelings may often tell me otherwise, I know for a fact that there is no greater truth than God’s word.

After a long time of dealing with loneliness, I finally stopped blaming others and wallowing in self-pity, but instead decided to remain and serve in the church. I believe that God has chosen me to play a role in the body, thus it is my part to contribute with whatever gifts I have.

After that, I slowly began to see that God is able to use my experiences to reach out to others beyond the church. It helped me reach out to those who felt lonely in college. I could relate to them, and perhaps through the resulting relationships, I may have the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ by loving those around me. We are able to love, only because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Looking back, I realized that every instance of struggle is an opportunity for Him to work in us, which paves the way towards spiritual maturity. By God’s grace, I started opening up to share my personal experience with a few of my church mates. As a result, I found out that one of them also shared the same experience as me. For the first time, I felt understood and a little less alone.

As of now, I still have a fear of being left out. But I am learning not to allow this to get in the way of me attending and serving in church. There are times I still struggle, but I have learned to go to Him in submission and obedience.

If you are also struggling to belong in your church, the fact is, you already belong because of your identity in Christ. Being in church is not about being in your comfort zone, and sometimes disappointments with one another is inevitable. But it is also through these processes that we learn to love, forgive and build up each other, just as Christ did for us.

18 replies
  1. Therese
    Therese says:

    You’re not alone. Thank you for your encouragement. It also took some time for me to feel like I belong.Joining a small group and a ministry to serve in helped but sometimes, I feell like it doesn’t make much of a difference. God sees the significance of our situation but reminds us that our trueacceptance and belonging can only be found in Him and not in the people around us. God bless!

  2. Ramez Qamar
    Ramez Qamar says:

    Reading this was very relatble. Thank you for sharing! I joined this church group not too long ago only a few months after Christ had entered my life. I sometimes feel like I’m too much of an introvert to be with such a large group or that I’m way behind on reading up the scriptures so I can’t enter many discussions related to certain topics. It’s really comforting to know that I am not alone yet as you said, we were called to certain places to contribute to the body of Christ with whatever we have. Despite not knowing what that is yet, I’m going to keep coming back to these people and see what awaits me. God bless!

    • YMI
      YMI says:

      Hi Sally,

      We just wanted to let you know that we’re praying for you. We’re praying that you find peace in knowing you always have a place to belong with the body of Christ, and for God to bring someone into your life to walk alongside you and talk with you.

      In Christ,
      -YMI Team

  3. Eric
    Eric says:

    This same things is happening to me right now. I’ve been going to this small new church near me and I feel like everyone fits in but me. They always plan to hang out at time but usually I’m the one not invited all the time. Personally it doesn’t bother me but I wonder why. I have learned about the word of God there but I feel like I’m a random person that goes.

    • amelia
      amelia says:

      I feel the same way in my youth group, of course I love my church but sometimes i just don’t feel in place. Just know I’ll be praying for both of us

  4. Joanna
    Joanna says:

    Thank you for your article. It did help me feel better and put things in perspective. It is about Christ.

  5. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    I currently feel like i dont fit in church, i feel like im useless as i dont know my calling so its pointless me going to church at all. Everyone has their role in church but not me. Others are favored. I feel theres more to my spiritual life than sitting and doing nothing. Im feeling so spiritually frustrated that all i want to do is cry

    • Mary
      Mary says:

      When I first started attending a smaller church in town the same happened to me. I felt like an outcast. I kept going. Then God sent a family to this church that I really like. I seem to be able to connect easily with them. I don’t go to this church every Sunday. There is another church I started to attend, but not sure how it is going to be yet. I am looking for a people that are radically saved.

    • Curly
      Curly says:

      I started going to this church on 2019 and at the same time a lady also started. The pastor asked me for a recommendation from the other church where I was going before which I found very unbiblical but I kept going. A year lady my friend was singing in the choir and they have said that anyone interested in singing in the choir can tell the pastors wife and I have approached her twice and I still not in the choir. I told the pastor that I was baptized when I was in the wrong faith that I rally would like to be baptized in the true faith and he said that we needed to talk and everyone got baptized expept me. I wanted to get a table cloth because the one we had was horrible and pastors wife told me that there were other ladies in charge of the church decorations and when I approached one of them and she said that pastors wife was the one in charge of the church decoration. Im so sad that I can not participate in anything except in cleaning the kitchen and it was my desicion to do it. Im spanish and everyone in church is kind and loving but I feel like I click. Maybe I need to pray for a spanish church

  6. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    This has blessed me so much, I feel exactly the same way, but I know that there is a reason why God planted me in that church. I feel like an outsider most of the times, which makes it uncomfortable to get involved in activities. What you’ve shared is soo relatable and it really blessed and encouraged me. This is a struggle, but it can be used as an instrument to encourage others, to reach out to those who feel lonely, as I know exactly how hard it is to feel excluded.

  7. Mike Muray
    Mike Muray says:

    I had difficulty belonging in my home church for around 4 years. The struggle was real and it tore my soul apart. I kept believing that it would bring personal disaster if I left. (that’s what we are taught) So I stayed and endured.

    In 2020 when the pandemic hit our country, churches told to shut down, I felt one of the biggest relief in my entire life. I was afraid to admit this but it’s true. I have never gone back but praying to God for a different community to belong.

    I still believe I was just stuck in the wrong environment. The thought of going back to an environment where you are invisible is just disturbing.

    I still wonder, is church meant to be such a draining experience? Or is there something wrong?
    Does God really not mind if people, like me, do not belong?

    • Taylor
      Taylor says:

      The Bible says to bear one another’s burdens and speak life to them I was in a similar situation where they used tactics like saying “you’ll have to explain why you didn’t go to church when you get to heaven haha” to get people to attend and it felt like an awful environment I would say try other church’s if the feeling persists get into prayer about it but you shouldn’t stay in a church that hurts you unless it’s hurting you with the truth and not with fear there’ll be times in your life where you may not appreciate what the pastor has to say because it’s honest but after awhile we all understand that we’re mad because they’re right and the lord convicts us but feeling drained at a house of worship is not the same thing church is supposed to build you up and set you on the right path with encouragement and loving correcting not leave you drained and use your fears against you so I feel like you should look for other church’s or at least try them and see how they feel keep it in prayer and ask the lord for guidance persistently you’ll find answers just keep praying and keep trying the lord is with you

  8. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    I went to a church for some time that never felt welcome and I felt as though I went more for the people that never really seemed to care because the message was lack luster I tried very hard to make friends or to simply have someone to talk to about my struggles with my faith and bond with at the time I was not properly saved and didn’t know who to talk to about how empty I felt because I thought I was saved at the time the pastor and adults asked about school stuff when speaking to seem nice and make conversation but they never seemed like someone who would care if I shared my pain I felt outcasted from everyone and purposeless and so I decided to stop going when the pandemic hit us because I felt it was a good excuse not to attend because I wasn’t learning anything from this church it felt more like a talk seminar it’s been a year or two since I stopped going and during that time I’ve been thinking about other churches I’ve never felt comfortable enough at church’s to continue going and I’ve never felt like it was the right choice I need advice because I’ve been invited to go to a new church with a coworker of mine and I’m on the fence about it I don’t want to go and not have it go ok or not feel welcome and leave a bad impression being awkward and be questioned about not wanting to attend again even though I know that I’m overthinking it I don’t know if it’s a good choice to go do you have any advice for the butterflies of trying out a new church and how to tell if it’s a good one ?

  9. Jay
    Jay says:

    I really needed this. Currently going to an assembly of god church after growing up Baptist and in a completely different area with different types of people and lately I’ve been feeling like I dont belong there. I told myself I didnt want to leave because the message and mission of the church is amazing but I still long for that sense of church family like I got at my other church. This really gave me the encouragement I needed to stick it out and see what God has in store…

  10. Pris
    Pris says:

    I’ve felt this way for years. I was raised in church and had a church family. When I married, we stopped going because he was Catholic and I was not. We divorced, and the first thing I did was start attending church regularly again. But it was different, and the family i had growing up was gone. I struggled to fit in. Eventually a few years later i changed churches to go where my dad and some of his sisters and brothers go, hoping it would make a difference. I love the pastor, but I still feel the same way. I don’t belong. I’m an outsider. It’s very discouraging and I want to quit. But it feels like if I quit then I’m quitting on God and that’s not what I want to do, either. He never quit me so I don’t want to quit Him. It’s just very frustrating and lonely. I have zero community and I’m just tired of walking alone, humanly, because I know the Lord is with me. But it would be nice to have Godly friends.


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