Socially Distant Churches
by S. M. Hutchens
Some years ago, new in town and looking for a church, we attended Sunday services at a church in a denomination known for its inbreeding and coldness to outsiders. This disease varies by congregation, though, and I thought we should give this one a fair chance. As we left (a rather good service, as I recall), I extended a hand to the lady next to me in the exiting queue, who began to reach for it—but as soon as she determined she did not know me, she quickly retracted her arm and turned her back. All the time we were there was marked by surreptitious staring and eyes quickly averted. No one but the pastor greeted us.
I decided the church's reputation was probably well-deserved, and needless to say, we ended up elsewhere. I think the threshold of acceptance there was something like three generations. In some churches it's longer. And in others they really do not want you around at all, even though nobody ever admits it.
In my experience, no unfriendly church thinks it's unfriendly. How could it be, since it's got so many of our friends in it? Welcoming strangers, however, is, for one good reason or another, somebody else's job.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives