The Lutheran Witness

In defense of “unfriendly” churches

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Comments (11)
  1. Rev. David Moerbe says:

    While I agree that we owe charity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, we as churches should always be asking ourselves how well do “we welcome strangers” into our midst. I remember visiting a congregation once for my godson’s confirmation. And I was sitting in the lobby of this church and probably fifty people passed me by. Not one person said hello? Or asked if I was a guest? Or if they could help me in anyway? They were so wrapped up in their own conversations, that my son and I were completely ignored. Most churches are friendly, but sometimes that friendliest is displayed between each other and not with the guest who are in their midst.

  2. Jeanne Fox says:

    While it is true that we are all sinners and people do have bad days, but that is still no excuse for being unfriendly to visitors. You can still smile and shake hands. You don’t even have to talk, just smile.

  3. Marcia Mildenburger says:

    Agree, but also remember what Luther instructed “to put the best construction on everything “

  4. Indy says:

    I live in Australia and I visit the US every year. I visit different LCMS churches during that time. I always arrive early so I have a chance to meet the Pastor and discuss Communion and then I go and sit with my fellow saints and sinners in the pew. I am always greeted warmly with the bulletin. Sometimes I get a smile and hello from the person sitting either in front or behind me. There are many times that people are in prayer prior to church starting and that smile and hello happens at the end of service. On occasion, I slip in and out of the church without speaking to anyone other then the Pastor. But one thing happens over and over and over again – I get a beautiful liturgical service with wonderful hymns with God’s forgiveness – a meditation on the Law and Gospel – and the Lord’s Supper. I am so grateful to the LCMS church for remaining true to Scripture. God bless your beautiful synod.

    1. Joe McConda says:

      Amen. I really liked what you said and how you said it.

  5. Hugh says:

    The one time someone actually said we were too “unfriendly” was when I was a deacon, and one of our duties was to call the congregants in our assigned area from time to time. On one such call, the congregant said she was going to switch churches because ours was “not very friendly.” I originally couldn’t place the family, despite trying to know all the people in my “deacon area” by attending the different services since some people always go to a certain one.

    After hearing some more of her complaints, it finally clicked–this was the family that always arrived after service had started, and always left before the pastor ended worship service. They never presented any opportunity for anyone to be friendly! When I was new, I found this congregation to be *too* friendly for my taste…offering to introduce me to the pastors, asking if I was visiting town or had moved there, would I like to attend such-and-such an event the congregation was having, etc.

    Maybe “friendliness” isn’t a one-way street.

  6. Goetz says:

    Friendship is indeed a two-way street. This post does give perspective about the imperfection in our church and would likely be helpful to people vacationing or visiting new-to-them LCMS churches (although I doubt the readership of this post will get around to those people).

    However, this post irks some in the way that it fails to address the log in our own eye, our church body’s eye.
    It may not be as apparent in the Lutheran-cultural “Meccas” of the midwest, but our version of welcoming and friendly often falls short of what people are looking for in a church community. Sadly, our Lutheran culture seems to influence the body of Christ being well connected inside a church building, but not outside it.

    People are looking for meaningful relationships, friendships, the connectedness outside of the 2-3 hours in and around the church building every Sunday morning. Although we might have the friendliness to say hello, and greet people, too often those relationships with others in our church stop as soon as we leave our pews.
    I see our pastors and people in ministry making gargantuan efforts outside of Sunday mornings to connect with others. But our culture and the people in our churches, myself included, haven’t fully addressed spending time and building those deep, meaningful relationships with others in our church community. As soon as we close the Bible, the extent of our relationships ends. There’s more to these people than what they believe or how much time they spend around the “fellowship hall.”

    Can we have more conversations, blog posts about how to get our church community to spend more time with others after church on Sunday?

  7. David Bodholdt says:

    If you want folks to be friendly you must first be friendly yourself.

    It would be nice if our churches would indicate they are LCMS in their advertising in phone books and/or yellow pages, motel information, etc.

  8. Joe McConda says:

    This was very helpful. My wife and I have been Lutheran for only a few years, and we love to attend other LCMS churches when we are traveling. And, for the record, we have never found a church to be unfriendly.

  9. Rev. Michael Monterastelli says:

    I visit lots of different LCMS churches. I’ve never judged them for being unfriendly or not like a family. I judge them if they have unfaithful teaching or practice. I actually appreciate the care of those who are guarded and don’t too much mind me simply observing them and their reverent practices in the presence of our holy God.

  10. Paul K says:

    Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged.
    The Judge is standing at the door! James 5:9 ESV

    Love the sojourner. Deut. 10:19 ESV

    Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers. Heb. 13:2 ESV

    I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Mt. 25:35 ESV

    By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35 ESV

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