Thursday, July 9, 2009

Coffee Churches

This is genius. The need to be a "seeker-sensitive" church is a decent sentiment, but we don't need the fluff and cliche' that goes with it - as exhibited in some evangelical churches.

Tip o' the hat to Mark.

1 comment:

tour86rocker said...

That video is brilliant!

One part I identified with was where they pointed out the new people. I despise the practice of some parishes that ask visitors or new people to raise their hands in the middle of the Mass! I will not raise my hand! I will not do it! I mean I'm there for the coffee, er, Jesus!

We could stand to learn something from the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics of Texas. When visiting St. Basil in Irving and St. John Chrysostom in Houston over the last seven years, my party and I have always been treated with genuine friendliness.

At the end of a Divine Liturgy, many times, perhaps always in my experience, all are invited to the social hall for coffee, other drinks, snacks etc. I don't think I've ever left a Ruthenian Byzantine parish within three hours. A variety of things to eat are often provided and it's never based around something that somebody bought in bulk (think: doughnuts) Often, somebody has made a couple of pies, somebody has made a sweet bread, etc. Most everything was thoughtfully made to share.

The parishes are of a size that people notice new faces. People greet you and talk to you. They offer you a place to sit. They are not a part of some committee with strategies, nametags, anything. The people of these two parishes are just genuine, they would like to see their parish grow. They'll introduce you around GRADUALLY, you'll meet all of them, you might even hold their babies. It is so CATHOLIC, I LOVE it! Even during the liturgy, people help you with your missal.

The pastor of St. John C (who I talked to for like five hours a couple of Sundays ago) has told me that not all Eastern Catholic parishes are like that. Indeed, in other parts of the country, the Byzantine parishes are more ethnically homogeneous, and might even be outwardly unfriendly. I've heard through other means that a Ukrainian Byzantine parish in Houston is unfriendly.

But the Ruthenian Byzantine parishes of Texas that I've exprerienced tend to have larger percentages of non-Ruthenians. "Ruthenians" are from a part of Hungary, I believe. In practice, these parishioners have intermarried like other Americans and I actually have yet to encounter someone with an Eastern European accent, other than one Russian gentleman. I've met women from various parts of Africa at Byzantine parishes and I have seen at least one Hispanic family.

Byzantine Catholics are part of the Catholic Church, in Communion with the Pope. We Romans are welcome to take Communion at their Mass, which they call the Divine Liturgy. It is most often held in English, but it does not follow the same order as ours. They have at least three prayers during their liturgy for the Pope, in comparison to our one.

Their parishes tend to be smaller. This makes it easier for them to effectively minister to visitors, I think. Sometimes when their kids grow up they just become Roman Catholics. I think people who don't genuinely want to be there don't bother to stay Byzantine, whereas among Romans, we have lots of people who go through the motions.