Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Decisions...Decisions...

At the risk of contradicting myself in 2.5 seconds, I just want to say that the idea of "shopping for a church home" really irks me.  Why?  Because I don't think churches should be viewed as businesses who are in the market for "selling" and "customers."

The local Christian radio station here does this "church of the week" thing where staff from the station visit a different church every week.  Churches are nominated by members, and often times it sounds something like "Oh, I LOVE Church X because people are just soo nice.  I have lots of friends there and I just feel SO good when I leave there on Sundays."  Right...because how you "feel" is what important here.

Yes, this is the Catholic in me coming out.  We're not so quick to be about how one "feels," rather we put more stock in the Truth behind the church and its actions.  No matter where in the world you go, you'll find the same Gospel readings on a particular day (hence the term catholic, universal).  And for us, the fact that it's not about the pastor (priest) or his personality and interests, but God.

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir

All that being said......I am in the market for a church home.  Or at least a temporary church home, seeing as how we don't exactly plan on being here for the rest of our lives.

Item #14 on my "20 in 14" list is "register as members of a church parish."

I've been here for 15 months now, and I really just think it's time to make a decision about where we will actually register.  To put things in a perspective, I've not actually registered at any church since the one I "grew up in" (more like, received my sacraments at).  But, we're married now, and we are doing well tithing, so I just think we need to make a decision and stick with it.  Plus, it would be a good idea to try to meet people by getting involved somehow.

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir

But the dilemma.  I generally think people should attend the church closest to their home.  There is actually a little church just about 5 minutes down the road, and we do go there about 50% of the time.  It took us several months to realize the church existed, but it was WAY nicer to drive 5 minutes than the 20 we were traveling before.  (Remember folks, I grew up in super Catholic south Louisiana, so there were literally 10 Catholic churches within 20 minutes of my house there.)

The problem?  This church is small, like I said, so there are fewer Masses, and not as many services such as adoration, reconciliation times, etc.  Because of this, we often end up driving the 20 minutes to the other church, because the Mass schedule is a little more flexible or to take part in seasonal events.  But still, we are going to each church about 50% of the time.  Neither has stood out as a front runner for our attendance or participation.  I am leaning toward registering with the smaller, closer church, and just knowing we will attend one or the other depending on the situation of that particular weekend.

SO, I want to ask you...readers (especially Catholic ones)...what are your thoughts on becoming members of a church?  What do you look for?  What should I look for?  What are priorities - scheduling vs logistics/distance?  And just to save us both the time and effort in reading/writing on such topics, I am not looking for comments regarding pastors or "strength of faith" (or whatever you would call something related to church teachings/focus).

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir

And...GO!

-Lauren

2 comments:

Jen @ Into Your Will said...

I don't think distance should be a factor - I was just talking to a homeschooling mom who drives 45 minutes to their church parish because it has become their "home" (and she totally lives 2 min away from another Catholic church!). Unfortunately, all Catholic Churches are different these days, and although it seems silly to choose a parish based on the priest, that was one of our reasons for switching parishes. A priest is the leader of his church parish so I feel like it's important to like him and how he runs things.

We were originally registered at the church we married at, but once I got pregnant with Landon it made more sense to switch to the church closest to us. It's a smaller parish, but we've come to love the priest and many parishioners already know us since we grew up nearby. I also feel called to teach CCD there.

So, all of that being said (sorry so long), I think you should consider a number of factors...the priest, the office staff, opportunities to volunteer and get involved, whether or not they offer other opportunities to grow in holiness outside the mass (small groups, talks, confession, etc). A sense of community is important as well.

Janine @ Home Joys said...

We totally made the mistake of picking a church because we liked the priest...twice! Both times the priest was moved within a year. We're moving in a few months and we'll be going to the one that's geographically closest to our new house and just trusting God that it will be the right place! That and trusting God will adjust baby nap schedules for their crazy mass schedules. Saturday 7pm... ?????? Who does that???