Pastor Father George Rutler knows that whether moving to a new area or seeking to be more engaged in an existing congregation, there are many ways to get involved in one’s local church community. Getting involved doesn’t necessarily require a unique skill set or an aggressively outgoing demeanor. The primary requisites are simply an openness to meet new people and a willingness to serve.
It almost goes without saying yet must occasionally be pointed out that one’s openness to meet people and willingness to serve is crucial to getting involved at church. One simply can’t become involved in a local church community without becoming a part of the community of that local church. A willingness to meet others may mean something as simple as coming to church service early. One might find that far more than liturgical staff arrive at church early. Many members arrive early as well specifically to meet other parishioners. Perhaps there is an opportunity to get involved with the effort to prep by sweeping or set-up in some capacity. Lingering after service is another occasion to formally meet and engage in conversation with other patrons.
Serving is one of the main ways to get involved. One will most likely find no shortage of opportunities to volunteer within nearly every church community. There is almost always a need for more involvement in the nursery or the children’s department. And it often doesn’t require cooking experience to get involved in the church’s kitchen functions. One can help prepare meals for funerals or for sick and shut-in parishioners. If nothing else, volunteering to make coffee is a way to get involved and perhaps meet the kitchen staff.
Another simple role is a greeter. Many churches assign people to help welcome parishioners into the building for a Sunday service. It’s easy to do, requires little to no preliminary work, and will most often introduce a person to most of the members of the church community.
Joining one or more of the church’s small groups is an excellent way to get involved. Small groups have a way of connecting church members with like interests to develop relationships outside of the sanctuary’s pew setting.
The pew setting within a church can often be very intimidating when trying to connect. Father George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in NYC touched on this subject. In his article “The Problem with Pews”, Father Rutler pointed out that there were no pews of any sort for most of the Christian church’s history. Accommodations were often made for the sick and elderly, but there were no organized rows of stationary pews for patrons. Churches were places of worship where socialization was common and encouraged. Father Rutler added that the pew setting in the Temple of Jerusalem was geared towards the Pharisees who liked to be seated in “high places”.
Today’s churches have adapted the pew setting to the extent that it has become counterproductive to the effort for community building within the church. This is what makes small groups so crucial. Connecting outside of the church removes the barriers to getting involved with the church community. Small groups go further than changing the seating arrangement. They provide an avenue for genuine fellowship between churchgoers and produce lasting friendships.
Openness to connect with people and willingness to serve are the primary ways to get involved with a local church community. By getting involved in the work of the community of the church, one, in turn, becomes involved in the church’s work in the community.