This concepts has come up in a variety of discussions, and seemed like it should have a topic heading of it's own in this group.

Churches play a significant role in forming community for their members. In addition to the services, there are potlucks, chili suppers, fish fries, picnics, camp retreats, and more. At the airport yesterday, I say a large group of people, all ages, heading to Honduras on a "mission" - probably 25 people. I know they were a church group because of their green T-shirts proclaiming that they were a church group going to honduras on a mission (duh).

Certainly, not everyone wants to be part of a community. It can be conformist and stifling. Many atheists are rugged individualists. But for some, part of the time or much of the time, the role of community is needed. A|N serves a great role in this function, creating communities based on common interests (discussion groups) and blogs. But there is also a place for face-to-face, chit-chat, hand-shake, hug / back patting, communalism with the spagetti supper, ice cream social (seems like a lot of this is about food), volley ball in the park with no goal other than being together.

So.... What do you find that fills this role? What would you like to create? How would you go about it? Would you want this, or glad to be away from it?

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Replies to This Discussion

You raise some very good questions here, Daniel. I've been asking myself similar things for a long time, especially since leaving the ministry. Non-theistic freethinkers could use some real "community," in fact, we could potentially show theists a new, more creative and fruitful way (?). I would value any comments or critiques you and others may have of my E-congregation concept. Keep in mind that this only exists online at this point. Yet it seems from the comments that people are connecting worldwide, at least to the Idea. And, be forewarned, I still use some of the old theo-words for communication purposes. I am still working with a diversity of folks in faith circles and they are intrigued by this approach. Good discussion!

I have filled this in my life by meeting with fellow free thinkers and atheists. has been terrific in helping me meet like minded people. Just a suggestion - find local people who share your non-belief!!!
strange - this is duplicated. So that there are not 2 entries, please follow the other thread wtih the identical beginning! SOrry for othe duplication, I don't know how it happened!
I can only see this page. I am struggling today with what I have left behind and what the alternatives are. I went to church last night with my kids who have been at the church holiday club for the week and experienced the old familiar feeling of community and rest there. I don't know what to make of my emotional attachment to the church the familiar welcoming faces the hugs of recognition and comments of how the kids have grown. (flip side is not one of them has contacted me since I left 4 years ago!) I don't know how to offer my children a warm 'extended family' of like minded relatively moral people like the church was to me. I don't know where to find a holiday club that is not religious or a friday night youth group. I don't know how to find the type of catharsis I enjoyed during worship or a place to dance and sing in community with people who know me and my family and support us when things go awry. I don't know how to find a history again when all my history is in the church. How can anyone else ever understand that about me?

I wrote this earlier in my blog "My personal experience of 35 years of devotion is that 'community worship' was extremely cathartic for me. It was a full hour of dancing singing writing and reading god's word in a very unstructured way. The church I was at is not typical of every church mind you. The lighting was low people were aware of others in distress and would come over and hug and support someone who appeared in need of it. I personally was freeer in the expression of worship than most people and I would cry, write and dance as my intuition, then regarded as the holy spirit led me. In those times I would sit very quietly and listen to 'the voice of god' now seen as my own inner/subconscious wisdom and find answers and guidance, support and peace. The words of the bible could be read as support, censure, validation or condemnation depending on how I was feeling about myself at the time and, I believe, on what my psyche needed. My daily prayer time was a similar experience but quieter. I would write sing listen and resolve issues for myself each day." How do I do this now?I understand that it was not god speaking or guiding or anything but the time I spent there was great now it reeks of insanity yet I yearn for the emotional experience it gave me. I am really missing my churchy life but not my christianity.




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