I Don’t Go To Church To Social­ize

If you go around a Catholic dio­cese tout­ing the val­ue of small groups, dis­ci­ple­ship groups, home groups, small Chris­t­ian Com­mu­ni­ties, or what­ev­er oth­er vocab­u­lary hap­pens to be the phrase of the day, you are like­ly to come across this reac­tion:

I don’t go to Church on Sun­day for oth­er peo­ple. I go to wor­ship God and that is it. All this wel­com­ing com­mu­ni­ty and friend­ship stuff doesn’t mat­ter. That’s not what the Church is for.

It’s an under­stand­able con­cern. Espe­cial­ly for a Catholic in the Bible Belt. Recent­ly, there has been a rash of evan­gel­i­cal pas­tors encour­ag­ing their church mem­bers NOT to attend “Big Church” if they go to a small group. Obvi­ous­ly as Catholics this presents a prob­lem when we believe we have an oblig­a­tion to be at Mass on Sun­day, and that our Litur­gi­cal wor­ship at Mass includes the con­se­cra­tion of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment; some­thing we can’t sim­ply do at home with our neigh­bors.

How­ev­er, sim­ply learn­ing about your Faith at home or in a pub­lic place with a group of oth­ers who also want to learn about the Faith, doesn’t dimin­ish the need for the Eucharist and the Holy Mass. The Psalms are filled with vers­es which con­firm that the more we learn about who God is, how He thinks, and what His ways are, the MORE we desire to be in his pres­ence. So when Bish­op Bak­er, your Parish pas­tor, or a fel­low parish­ioner invites you to join a small group, it isn’t to replace Mass. It’s to make you desire to be at Mass more, and be more edi­fied by it. It isn’t sim­ply about social­iz­ing at Church!

Coordinator of Discipleship & Mission at the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama.

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