Vol.XIX No.IV Pg.2
June 1982

Church Socializing

Robert F. Turner

This article has little to do with fun or frolic, and nothing to do with church support of such. But it is impossible to completely separate public gatherings and the working together of people, from their social aspects. Good friends rejoice to see one another. Efforts to divorce all personal and social feelings from an assembling of close friends would encourage artificiality and hypocrisy. Let us honestly acknowledge this, and discuss problems it genders.

We are to love one another without respect of person; show no favoritism on account of race, rank or wealth (Jas. 2:1-f). Our common interest in serving God will draw us together and erase some differences, but close personal ties cannot be made by putting a name on the church roll. Nor is it sinful to have special buddies or friends among Christians. Jesus loved John (Jn. 13:23-f) and this special feeling was recognized. I believe He did this without showing partiality; and I believe we may do the same.

Church "cliques" are to be avoided but one should be able to have a few brethren over for dinner without making others envious or "hurt". Some "social" events (such as welcoming a newcomer to the community, or a farewell party for one leaving) may lend themselves to large numbers — invite the whole membership of a church. But we should avoid a sort of unwritten law that says, if any members do something together, all must be invited." In fact, allowing wedding, graduation, or other like affairs to have forced "church" boundaries, is a sure way to confuse church and social functions.

We have known brethren to be "hurt" because one got a graduation announcement and another did not; and we have also known some to be financially burdened to give graduation gifts "just because we are members of the same church." We should do all possible to avoid such feelings of obligation.

Christianity will take care of racial prejudices, quick tempers, feelings of superiority, and other things that separate people. Concern for all others will cause one saint to help another "get acquainted" and feel at home. The more we work together for the Lord the more we will appreciate one another as saints — and that will have an inevitable social effect. But we should not view the church as a "lonely hearts club." Close ties cannot be forced; they are forged over a period of time, and depend much on the nature of the individuals. Surely all have heard, "To have friends one must be friendly." The externals of "church" ties should not be expected to do what one will not do for Christ.