Spiritual Handcuffs

Hey Doc, 
I recently started a new church and I feel like I joined the military instead of a religious group. My first real experience with them was a youth group trip I was invited to by a few friends from school. The trip was to a campground about 5 hours away from our big city. My mom thought it would be great for me to find new friends and get out of the city for the holiday weekend. As usual for me, I packed a book, my iPod, clothes, the essentials, and my camera. About a half hour into the trip, some ‘missionary’ that was accompanying us ( for reasons I still don’t know), stood up at the front of our packed buss to proclaim “ This trip should be about GOD! Put away all worldly possessions! I don’t want to see any music, phones, cameras, books that aren’t the HOLY(he emphasized this) Bible, video games, or anything else from this world!” I thought he was joking, but when I was listening to my music, he can and yelled at me for ‘disobeying him’. This was a very long weekend, full of hymns, lectures, and not a single game or hike. Is this a huge sign to avoid churches or am I being too cynical ? I don’t want to be that kid with no friends outside of school, but I don’t want to belong to a place with such strict rules.
~A questionable Rebel.
Ok, so they aren’t this strict, but when one can use Mel Brooks, one should use Mel Brooks.

Dear Rebel,

I don’t know how you put up with that for a long weekend. I understand the concept of getting back to nature and God, but it’s not for everyone and forcing it upon children is just not right. 
However, if you are interested in joining this church, with your friends, I would talk to whomever is in charge. Pastor, priest, rabbi, whatever that role is for your church. See if this missionary was acting for the church, or just for himself. Missionaries are often supported by the church and don't often have the exact same values. There may have just been some miscommunication.

There is the option for searching for a different church as well. You say you live in a large city, you likely have several to choose from. Do a bit of research on the denominations and see what fits you.

Then for the complete other option of finding friends other than in a church setting. You can go to a number of clubs, sporting places, really anywhere you find interest.

Don’t worry about being cynical, its good to question things. It helps to understand and grow.

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