If Your Church Closed Its Doors, Would the Neighborhood Care?

Are we training Christians to be both morally upright and socially engaged? Only 20% of millennials who have left the church said that they were given opportunities to serve the poor when they were churched (Kinnaman, You Lost Me, 119). Only 15% said they found a cause or issue at church that motivated them (Ibid). And yet many unchurched (or dechurched) are passionate about serving the churchcommunity, fighting injustices, helping the poor, doing things that make their city a better place.
According to one survey, 4 out of 5 unchurched people want to contribute to the good of their community (Barna and Kinnaman, Churchless, 42; see also Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian, 39). Ironically, their perception about church is that church people don’t really care about the world around them. They’re too busy going to church and serving themselves. And most church budgets confirm the perception.


I only glanced at the article but my personal reaction from teaching college students over the years is that they do want to make a difference in the world but they don’t want what they perceive as the “strings attached”.

For example, some students I knew went to volunteer at a church sponsored soup kitchen/food pantry (not Catholic). They were “horrified” (their words) that people had to listen to Bible readings and a sermon before they could eat.

Most people in my neighborhood would not care. Sad, but true. The Protestants would care more if their churches closed, and in my neighborhood, at least, they are more friendly. Again, sad, but true. And I live in a nice neighborhood.

]My neighborhood would indeed care as it is a predominantly Catholic neighbor/area. Our Masses are always well attended, even the weekday ones. We have a total of 9 Masses for Sunday obilgation they are standing in the aisles.

I fortunate to live in a parish with strong community action. Our community would suffer if our church closed it’s doors. We are a poor parish, almost never taking enough in Sunday collections to meet expenses, but yet we run a soup kitchen, food pantry, and ESL classes. We have a large vibrant youth program, an excellent Religious Ed program, a strong RCIA team.

We live in a small community and we are the only Catholic Church in the community, so yes the neighborhood would care. I’m blessed to be part of our Catholic community.

I think that’s rather accurate. When Pope Francis was reported to announce that he wanted every European Parish to host an migrant family, the response from the more secular/liberal minded among them was that this was a positive development unless those families would be exposed to Catholicism.

I’m not sure that an increase in service work is necessarily the answer to the decline of Christianity in the West. Most Christians I know seem pretty invested in the community, and there doesn’t really seem to be any correlation between the amount of service provided and the number of people belonging to that community. Consider that Progressive Christians, who are nearly entirely focused on inclusion and service, are collapsing.

I don’t know the religious affiliation of most of my neighbors because for some reason everyone seems to do their own thing and don’t get involved with each other–a shame, but that is how it is. I know only 4 or 5. But my community would definitely care because our parish has been and still is a leader in the community when it comes to the social justice area. We provide a lot of resources for the community, both in services and finances. We support a wide variety of organizations that need our help. Besides, we are the largest parish in the area (and I think the Diocese) so the spiritual needs of thousands of people are provided for. And we have good and cooperative relations with many of the Protestant churches in the area.

Yes, if the parish closed it’s doors the impact would be felt far and wide.

Our congregation just recently purchased a building from a congregation in a different denomination that could no longer afford to keep the doors open. We’ve made a number of improvements to the property, as well as some local outreach in our new neighborhood. We were told by a neighbor that we inspired him to replace his fence because of the improvement we’ve made to the neighborhood’s appearance. We hope this is the first of many stories we hear.

I don’t think we’ve been here long enough to be missed, but consistent small impacts like this really add up. The first step towards a neighborhood wanting you around is being neighborly. I think a lot of people forget that.

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