Parish life can be and is beautiful. However, sometimes as in any group setting, people can be “cliquey”. In other words, there can be an air of unwelcoming behavior that to an outsider is unattractive and unappealing. When people stray away from their faith for whatever reason, unfortunately, one of those reasons may be a feeling of not being welcomed in their own church setting. Jesus certainly would not agree with this behavior of snobbery toward others as his teachings point to reaching out in terms of kindness and openness to new people and new families. Here are ways to avoid church snobbery which may be a help during holiday seasons when people who have been away come back.
Cliques and friend groups are everywhere. There is nothing wrong with developing good friends who you love to “hang out” with and befriend. The problem is when we become closed off to making new friends and/or exclude others. Cliques are found is schools, work places, neighborhoods, extended families, and many other places. One place we would hope to not find them is within the Catholic Church or any church or faith-based group. It is sad to see when a new person shows up to church, to a group, or event, and no one walks over to say hello or offer a friendly smile. Avoiding cliques is number one when it comes to not coming off a “snob” to others.
Have a spirit of openness toward others
Being friendly is not a gift that everyone has, but through prayer and effort, we can become more friendly and kind. A big reason people leave a church or “the Church” is for this reason that they felt their church community was not friendly and hospitable. Make no mistake, the reason we as Catholic go to Mass and celebrate our faith is out of love of Jesus and of the sacraments. However, it is not a reason to forget to be friendly and open to newcomers when we meet them. A spirit of openness is another way to avoid church snobbery.
Learn to listen more and talk less
After Mass when people “chit chat” afterwards, groups can tend to form which is natural. When we learn the art of listening more and talking less, we will begin to notice more of what is happening around us instead of focusing only on the little group we are engaged in. Whether this pertains to a church group, the office, or other setting, listening more and talking less is a sure way to not come off with an air of superiority toward other people.
Church snobbery is real, and when we open our eyes, our hearts, and our souls to the will of God we will begin to understand the will of God which is to be open, kind, and affable toward our peers everywhere we go. Especially in a church or faith-based setting, it is extremely important to remember the command of Christ to love and care for the marginalized. It is a better practice to cease caring and worrying about cliques, gossip, and matters that in reality have no importance whatsoever. Pray for God’s guidance, and he will direct you away from snobbery and toward humility, charity, and outreach toward others.