Do you feel out of place as a Christian? I suspect you sometimes do. I think everyone, at some time in their lives, feels like a misfit within the Church. I do. Often. Believe me, I have my stories.

We are all different kinds of Christians. We are different due to upbringing, personalities, genetics, differing passions, and the like. Many times we will get discouraged because of our differences. Sometimes we ask ourselves “What is wrong with me?”

Here are some of the feelings that you might have.

  • I don’t like to fellowship with other believers very much, whats wrong with me?
  • I haven’t felt the presence of God like others do, what’s wrong with me?
  • I don’t love to read my Bible like other Christians do, what’s wrong with me?
  • The Lord’s supper/Eucharist is not a spiritual experience for me like it is for others, what’s wrong with me?
  • I am not very emotional, what’s wrong with me?
  • I hate the way Christians talk, what’s wrong with me?
  • I can’t keep my kids under control, what’s wrong with me?
  • I am not very nice and talkative, what’s wrong with me?
  • I dread going to prayer groups, what’s wrong with me?
  • I ask too many questions and have too many doubts, what’s wrong with me?
  • I don’t have a good marriage like other Christians do, what’s wrong with me?
  • I am scared to death to pray in public, what’s wrong with me?
  • I find it hard to pray for other people, what’s wrong with me?
  • I don’t like to study, what’s wrong with me?
  • I am addicted to so many things, what’s wrong with me?
  • I am so pessimistic about things, what’s wrong with me?
  • I am depressed all the time, what’s wrong with me?

The simple fact is that we are not yet dressed for heaven. Not only this, but we are all wearing different clothes. Not only this, but the Holy Spirit does not seem intent to dress us in a uniform way. Not only this, but some of us feel like we are wearing our underwear on the outside of our pants. Yeah, it is awkward.

While we are trying to be molded into the likeness of Christ, don’t beat yourself up too much for not fitting a mold of expression. The church is a body of believers that are following Christ imperfectly. Our expressions (dress, prayer life,  interests, personalities, sins we struggle with, and the like) cause us to look and feel very different inside. When we walk into church we do everything we can to put on our “church” personality. But inside we are different. We are scared. We feel like misfits.

Stage one: We think to ourselves, “Boy, I hope they don’t find me out.” We think that the gig will be up at any time. But we feel we must live with this tension to do this thing called “church.”

Stage two: This is where you begin to conform to this double standard. You live with the dichotomy of who you are inside and who you are when you are with “churchy” people.

Stage three: This is where the Cool-Aid is well into your system and you are now pressuring others to drink the same.

The fact is that we are all misfits. We need to act like it. We don’t conform to church, but we conform to Christ. By admitting our “misfitness” we will not take away from fellowship. By admitting our awkwardness, we help others find a home. By admitting our inability to fit in we lose sight of “fitting in” all-together. By being beggars of grace, we become a house of grace together. There we go. We have the church. A house of misfits looking for grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I have come to think that the only misfits are those who are comfortable wearing the veneer of “churchiness.”

What are some of the ways that you feel like a misfit in church?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    21 replies to "Are You a Misfit in the Church?"

    • whoschad

      Two BIG things that make me feel like a misfit at church:

      I believe in evolution
      I don’t vote Republican

      I’ve been at the stage one you described for a long time now. I hope I never get to stage two or three. I don’t feel so much like I’m wearing my underwear outside of my pants, I feel more like I’m ‘in the closet’. I can’t imagine what actual gay church members must go through, but I think I kind of get it.

      • Kathleen Phillips

        Maybe you’re in the wrong church. Try the Episcopal Church. I am a Democrat who believes in evolution. I am Episcopalian.

    • Boz

      •I don’t like to fellowship with other believers very much,
      •I haven’t felt the presence of God like others say they do,
      •I don’t love to read my Bible like other Christians do,
      •The Eucharist is not a spiritual experience for me like it is for others,
      •I am not very emotional,
      •I hate the way Christians talk,
      •I can’t keep my kids under control,
      •I am not very nice and talkative,
      •I dread going to prayer groups,
      •I ask many questions and have many doubts,
      •I don’t have a good marriage like other Christians do,
      •I am scared to death to pray in public,
      •I find it hard to pray for other people,
      •I don’t like to study,
      •I am addicted to some things,
      •I am so pessimistic about things,

      I have almost all of the traits on your list, and I’m not even a christian!

      But I don’t think that having any of these traits means that there is something wrong with me, or you.

    • katz

      This relates to the problem of the role of introverts in the church. While, sociologically, we’ve come to the place where we generally accept that introversion is a personality type and not a personality disorder, the church, like every other non-work organization, has no idea what to do with them and usually doesn’t even seem interested in trying.

    • Ron

      If this were a test, I would have scored a 90. God loves us misfits, though.

    • Stuart

      What an encouragement.

      When I feel like a misfit in church, what makes matters worse is that I look around and see a whole bunch of misfits, and then I view myself as a misfit amongst misfits, in other words I don’t even fit with the misfits….horrible feeling……

      May I cross-post?

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      • I don’t like to fellowship with other believers very much
      • I haven’t felt the presence of God like others do
      • I don’t love to read my Bible like other Christians do
      • I am not very emotional
      • I hate the way Christians talk
      • I am not very nice and talkative
      • I dread going to prayer groups
      • I ask too many questions and have too many doubts
      • I don’t have a good marriage like other Christians do
      • I find it hard to pray for other people
      • I am addicted to so many things
      • I am so pessimistic about things, what’s wrong with me?
      • I am depressed all the time

    • Lee H

      I have no idea what Stage Three means?

      Is Cool-Aid an american thing?

    • Pär Stenberg

      I must thank you Michael for all your posts on this blog; they have been tremendously helpful for me. I hope that someone may find my comments to be helpful as well (I will be as honest as I can; Lord have mercy.)

      Amen to these:

      * I don’t like to fellowship with other believers very much, whats wrong with me?

      YES!

      * I haven’t felt the presence of God like others do, what’s wrong with me?

      The vagueness in my own experiences seems to stand in such a stark contrast to other believers in my congregation (pentecostal church)

      * The Lord’s supper/Eucharist is not a spiritual experience for me like it is for others, what’s wrong with me?

      “That’s it? Hmm… alright, better look spiritual and try to meditate on this event”

      * I am not very emotional, what’s wrong with me?
      I try to force myself to be more emotional then I really am.

      * I hate the way Christians talk, what’s wrong with me?
      It seems so… superficial and false. I constantly accuse other believers in my heart, of not being in touch with reality.

      * I dread going to prayer groups, what’s wrong with me?
      Don’t know why but I just don’t like to gather together with other Christians and pray. Afterwards I quite refreshed and happy but I still I dread the next meeting.

      * I am scared to death to pray in public, what’s wrong with me?
      Not enterily true; however, I tend to focus more upon how may words will sound to others than directing my words to the Lord. But then again, prayer does not seem to help so why bother.

      * I find it hard to pray for other people, what’s wrong with me?
      This just feels… odd. Perhaps since I am not used to it and have been an atheist most of my life.

      * I am addicted to so many things, what’s wrong with me?
      Porn… constantly I fall back into this addiction and it is killing my relationship with God. Also, I abuse food and candy.
      * I am depressed all the time, what’s wrong with…

    • Dave Z

      So easy to fall into the desire to be a clone Christian and hen to apply peer-pressure to others to do the same. I think it was CS Lewis who observed how often great men and women are unlike each other.

      Great book by Larry Osborne on this topic:
      A Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us

      http://www.amazon.com/Contrarians-Guide-Knowing-God-Spirituality/dp/1590527941

    • Melanie

      Misfit? In every way! As uncomfortable as being in Church and with Christians is, I am consoled knowing that my role (part in the body) is to be a misfit. I am there to remind them all that Jesus loves the misfit as much as the rest of the ‘flock’ who fit the mould. I might be uncomfortable but if I am fulfilling my misfit role, I will make the rest uncomfortable enough to think about all of the worlds misfits. Jesus does.

      I suspect that there are in fact more misfits than are letting on. Maybe the whole body is made up of misfits in various stages of forced compliance. I hope not. I would rather see the Chruch filled with authentic misfit Christians than Stepford Christians any day. I say to misfits everywhere …” Stand up and be the misfit you are. Be honest with yourself, others and God”.

    • […] Anyway, I’m cross-posting his latest entitled; Are You a Misfit in the Church? […]

    • Gordon

      Everyone in church should be a misfit. They probably all are but claim not to be because everyone else is attempting to fit in.

      Its a recipe for social and psychological disaster.

    • Char

      While I understand the sentiment, I think that in reality some are bigger misfits than others. Notice that the issues mentioned can’t be placed in the same categories. Some are personality issues while others are issues of circumstance.

      I have my own hypotheses about why people become disillusioned with the church, or with certain churches. I’d love to do a study on whether there are corollaries between such disillusionment and personality type (excluding circumstances). I suspect that as has been found in cultic groups, sometimes people are forced to coalesce into one type and this makes for poor goodness of fit for everyone who is not that type. Of course for anyone who happens to be the favoured type, the damage of group think, while existing, is minimal.

      Anyone want to be in my study? 🙂

    • […] Patton on misfits in the church; the silence of God; and Christian conduct […]

    • Tiopapo

      Wao, misfit is what lately I feel…and funny that I came to Chrst after 25+ years in New Age , Hinduisms and Buddhism i 2007,studied theology here with you guys (RMM) read all of the recomended books by you, Gary Habermas, Moreland etc., and felt able to talk to my fellow church friends….oh…what a disapoitment….No one seems interested in knowledge, comon sense in our theology oe reason! I go to churches now, visiting with mom who is yet to settle on a church (process of moving to Fl.) listening to sermons that I wonder what are they saying, who’s believing this stuff. The enphasis in “power” I see as pure carnal emotion; the aim at “teaching” I see as same old stuff people have been listening to since they got converted;no one seems to be interested in apologetics, the reasons for their beliefs and the evangelization classes completely miss the mark in that we are talking in circles and not addressing what we haev in common wit unbelievers…..Someone told me It was going to be some time before I find “my church” and someone elses told me “you will have to just about create your own”….Were they correct…..?
      tio

    • Mike

      My beliefs is not based on a churches statement of faith. Sometime I half to dig deep in search for truth. Which bring me into the hebrew and older languages and meanings. Every fellowship I have attended. would reather remaine in ignorance and follow there man made statement of faith. I find them all to be blind guides.They do not wont to reconize and follow truth. They would reather pat each other and recieve honor amoungs each other. Then to turn implment truth. I am tired of these so called churches. If they where really called out they would not reather believe a lie. And because they do I know who there father is. While they plead for people to chnge there hart and turn. There not willing to turn from there man made doctrine. So they both will fall into the dich. Yes I am a misfit my hart crys out. Love and apply truth.

    • Maria Allen

      I just don’t fit in at church. When I was single in church, I felt awkward. Now that i am married with an unsaved husband, we stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe church will be comfortable for me someday.

    • TM Urquhart

      Oh brother am I glad to hear I am in good company. I have been going to an Independent Baptist Church for close to 17 years and I have yet to feel accepted there. I have tried dozens of times to be friends to the attendees but I might as well be trying to catch the wind. I absolutely dread Sundays because my wife likes it there and I feel that if I sit there one more minute I am going to hurl. I posted how I felt on Facebook when I was. Part of Facebook and the pastor demanded I retract what I posted. No asking what the trouble was. Just an ugly demand. I wish I knew what to do. I usually bring my iPhone and Bluetooth earbuds and listen to Audible while I am there. I pray to God Heaven isn’t like that bunch. I don’t know if I want to face an eternity of that.

    • Jim Martel

      An important one that’s missing is, “I don’t believe in trinity and tired of being shunned, shamed, and CONDEMNED by others.

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