"Friendly" churches and swan songs

Every now and then some poster on CAF decides to post a thread, for reasons known only to themselves, about how they are switching churches or denominations because 'the last church/ parish/denomination was sooo unfriendly. And the new church/parish/denomination is so MUCH friendlier.
Speaking from experience on both sides of the Tiber, that is an extremely immature reason to ‘pick’ a church. Take my advice, so much is based on the culture of the area you are living in, or the culture of the church itself. I have been in VERY friendly churches with bad or even crooked leadership, I have been in what appears to be a cold church with wonderful people and leadership.They are just not a touchy-feely type people.
Outside of ‘they have a great music’, I have never heard a more lame reason for picking a church or parish, Protestant or Catholic.
Rant off.

I don’t think anyone should be surprised that people like to be around people they like and like going to services they enjoy.

Agreed, but that’s not what my point is. “Friendliness” can be deceiving. To ‘pick’ a church based on said ‘friendliness’ is not a terribly good way of deciding truth.


Well for many the truth is Jesus died for our sins and if you accept Him then you are saved. They don’t spend time pondering and comparing beliefs.

yes, it may be a “lame” excuse and reason to leave one Christian group for another. I think you are referring to the thread by a Catholic looking at evangelical Lutheran churches. But it does point to one of the basic of human needs which is to be included and wanted. Friendliness does address that in making people feel needed or wanted. While those of us that may have more deeper concerns such as truth and correct theology, we do need to realize that for many people, their emotional needs may need to be addressed first. I know that did motivate me to leave the Methodist Church for a more friendlier Charismatic one. But I was also late teens at that time and depth of theology was not at the top of my list. I do have a theory that more people jump between Churches do to emotional needs than theology and that is based on my own experience.

Pope Francis would encourage friendliness.

"Francis warned against the disease of loss of compassion, which he said afflicted “those who have a heart of stone.”

“Those who lose their inner serenity, their vivacity and audacity, to hide behind their papers, becoming like procedural machines rather than men of God. This is dangerous to lose human sensitivity, so necessary in order to cry with those who cry and enjoy with those who enjoy,” the Pope said."


Pope Francis also warned of:

“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships."

“The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.

~~ Pope Francis


Are you talking about leaving Catholicism, or just switching from one Catholic parish to another? I don’t think that’s any reason to leave a religion, but I find it a perfectly acceptable reason to just change up the particular church you attend.

Oh, I’ve been in some parishes that were really odd.
But since the Eucharist is valid, that’s all that concerns me. If it’s unfriendly, then don’t volunteer. If it is, get very involved.
I wouldn’t consider turning my back on Christ in the Eucharist because of what some of His children do.
It’s means too much to me. I need Him.
This whole notion began with the sappy song “we Are the Church”. People are equating the membership with the theology offered. But if one wants to do good work and they don’t think their church is social justice oriented enough, there’s lots of groups. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity. But no other place offers the history, the scholarship, and the liturgy of the Catholic Church.

I work in a parish. We have this philosophy: The Staff of this parish are the “invitation”. But CHRIST is the Host.
If you simply stand in the middle of the mental aisle, with one foot in how it should be…you’re always angry. If you stand in the aisle with one foot in ** the way is used to be**, you’re always disappointed. Better to stand with one foot in both areas, and be the invitation. Be friendly, be welcoming, be genuine, and then STEP OUT OF THE WAY, and let God handle the rest.

Happy St. Stephen’s Day everyone!

I think getting past the mentality of going to be entertained might help. I think people ask too much of their churches in all the areas that don’t matter to God. Go to be with God. Go to participate in the mass. If the church isn’t strong, then strengthen it. All Christians are called to be part of a community. That means we find a community, join in and roll up your sleeves to help. Think of those people that followed Jesus to the point where they needed to be sent away before they became too weak. Jesus fed them what they needed, but I didn’t read anything about donuts or coffee being provided. I don’t think there were TV monitors, AC/Heat, or guitars. How many of us would go even a day without food just to stay at church?

I know that I have asked this in several different ways on this forum, but, threads such as these still make me wonder if I am a failure at my own religion if I do not exude warmth. I have a cold exterior and come off as rude sometimes when I am just speaking plainly. But, I cannot help if I cannot feign warmth to save my life. That was just how I was raised. But, I was also raised to be more generous to others than to myself.

I really do not like others to know my religion because I do not want my person to somehow turn people off from the Church. I just leave it to those more people-oriented. But, I still fear people drawing the wrong conclusions because of me.

Be at peace. Remember that some of the Apostles were fairly anonymous, to the extent that we know VERY little about them. It doesn’t mean they failed Jesus. Neither have you. One of the most important roles a person can play and that the monastics know, is to pray for the people of God. Anyone can do that, and I for one, am very grateful for it.
Happy St. Stephen’s Day Redbetta. :wink:

Sometimes people need to leave a parish for peace of mind. If, for example, I routinely burst into tears after attending Mass and cry my way home because of the way I perceive I have been treated by others at church, then that is an indication to me that perhaps I am not where I am supposed to be. It doesn’t matter how welcoming the place is, or how great the music is, or how involved people are. If I am not feeling welcome, then what’s the point of going? We have enough backlash to deal with in the real world. We don’t need it at church too. There are more than enough parishes that one can attend to worship without drama.

As for people leaving denominations to join others, I don’t fault them. Many of my friends with whom I grew up have done so because of the trauma we all experienced while acquainted with a priest who abused his position. I try to be an example of forgiveness to them, but they don’t have a lot of respect for the church. I can tell them that things are better now but they just have no trust. So, excuse me for being bold, but why not let people be people and let them figure out where they belong, both in worship and fellowship. Thanks for reading.

I stuck - thru stubbornness, I think - with “my” parish in spite of problems with the people & several of the priests. I finally switched to a different parish, which turned out to be going from the frying pan to the fire; the priest thought it was OK to change the rubrics of the Mass any way he felt like.

In the meantime, the old parish had gotten 2 new, great priests. I finally started going to an affiliated parish which is much smaller. So far, so good. However, I don’t attend any of the social events. It’s funny, but socially, both my husband & I seem to do better with Protestants. :slight_smile:

Never, tho, would I go back to being a Protestant.

I believe Op was referring to some threads on CAF that indicated that they were considering leaving the Catholic church for another denomination because of friendliness. It is one thing to switch parishes for various reasons but it is another to leave the Catholic Church or even attend for a while a more “friendlier” Protestant Church. There are a large number of ex-Catholics out there that attended a Protestant Church, were touched by the friendly people and ended up leaving. Usually, they have not been well grounded in understanding their Catholic faith but people do leave for emotional reasons and while it is easy to discount emotional type reasons which friendliness falls under, they feel wanted, included and needed. Those are powerful draws and if basic needs like that are not met in the Catholic parish they attended, they can be easy candidates for a warmer, friendly place. I’ve been threads on CAF that discount things like greeters at parishes but be honest, what normal person doesn’t want to have someone smile at them and say welcome.

“Friendliness” has never been a criterion for me. I am interested in the Mass and sacraments being celebrated properly at a parish. Personally, I receive all the love and affirmation I need from Christ in the Holy Eucharist and don’t seek anything more at Mass from the people in the pews. Although I eventually make friends at church, I don’t join for that reason. I notice my parish “friends” are the ones who also joined the parish to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church and who are less interested in the social aspects of parish life. I tend to make friends through work and clubs, but I join a parish to be with the Shepherd, not with the sheep.

I agree, robwar. When I took a visit to a Catholic parish in my area this past summer, I was impressed by many things, especially the worship and reverence, but the lack of a welcome by anyone as I was entering was a little foreign to me and seemed a little cold, but that was mainly because people greet you from the time you enter the parking lot at my AOG church.

However, I ran into a couple of people I knew from work, who greeted and chatted briefly with me, which made me feel more at home at the Catholic parish.

Belonging to a chruch that is friendly is so important - Some RCC are very friendly and others not so much . The same can be of the Lutheran church’s , whom my mother always believed seemed to be so much more friendly than a catholic Church .

Be yes I agree friendliness is vital

I think it’s a cultural thing in the Catholic church. People generally feel that we are single minded when we go.
To visit the shepherd, not the sheep, to quote a recent thread. :wink:
Also, many Catholics believe that worship is extremely personal, and don’t really relish the hand grasping and hugging. We see threads about it ALL the time. It’s a real problem for parish stewardship committees. :rolleyes:
The people who market “stewardship” will tell you that if you don’t offer a huge welcome banner people won’t come. :eek:
I believe that most Catholics come for Liturgy, for Eucharist, and to fulfill their Sunday obligation. To more or less varying degrees, based on their own personal disposition.
For as many people that I am welcoming to, I get cold stares back from some, who just don’t require it. :shrug: Hard to know where one begins and the other ends.
The Catholic church survives due to her Truths, her incredible history from Christ Himself…and the Eucharist. The need for membership and money is secondary. And many old school Catholics think that these gestures are more connected to the collection plate. Sad really. I imagine Christ would welcome us in person, with a hug.
But people are so disconnected these days, in so many ways. Look at us? We’re all friends, but we are only connected through Wi-Fi. :smiley: But hopefully, we have one shared passion: Jesus Christ. And he loves us whether or not we can give a hearty handshake or not.
Think of the priests who say daily Mass for a handful of people. If they know each other it’s grand, but it’s not necessary for the validity of the Mass. They know that they all love Jesus, no?
Peace, Tommy…always a great discussion.

I think that the drive to become “friendly” and “welcoming” is the last gasp of the Church of Nice that is suffering dwindling numbers and increased competition.

However, I suffer from this affliction because honestly, I would have an extremely hard time coming to a parish that did not permit me to participate in ministries as an active volunteer. I am not cut out anymore for life as only a pewsitter. I would slowly find excuses for not attending Mass and slip into a state again of not practicing, or drift to another parish and seek a welcome there.

But when I am in the market for a parish, I seek one not where I feel welcomed, but where sound doctrine is taught, and reverent liturgy is offered. I see one where people are not gossipy hypocrites but where they live the Catholic faith as authentic witnesses and disciples.

Thanks be to God that I have found a parish that offers me the best of both worlds, as much volunteer work as I want, and that authentic faith that is lived. And believe it or not, this is merely my territorial parish. I moved here for secular reasons, without even a glance at the parish beforehand. I don’t think I could leave it to chance another time. If I ever have to move far away, I will think long and hard about which parish I can belong to (I don’t drive and so location is key.)

I was driven away from the Church by lukewarm faith, poor catechesis, awful liturgy, and lack of involvement. Then I realized that my relationship with God was more important than my personal satisfaction with how church life was going. This must be the turning point in anyone’s spiritual life, that we weather the storm and do not allow the Gates of Hell to prevail in our own lives.

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