Saturday, October 15, 2011

Church culture

A friend of mine and I were planning a multi-denominational youth event which was to take place at her Catholic church. We were talking about the dinner and I suggested we cook baked ziti. “Melinda,” she said, “we do not have a Protestant church kitchen. We’ll have to order pizza.”

Wait.  Catholics and Protestants have different kinds of kitchens in their church buildings? It had never occurred to me. But, as I thought about it, I realized that denominations do have cultures. I’d never really noticed it before.

This isn’t about theological and moral views or forms of worship. It’s about styles of fellowship. They aren’t better or worse than each other, just different.

One example:

I am a Baptist. We fellowship over food. Potluck meals, often featuring a wide variety of casseroles, are common. Ham and bean suppers and other types of church dinners abound. One thing you will never see at one of these or any other church event: alcohol. We also use grape juice when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. It’s not that Baptists don’t drink these days. Plenty do. Just not at church events. Historically, most Baptists were part of the Temperance Movement and that influences us to this day.

I also enjoy participating in events with an Episcopal Church. They sponsor a lecture series that meets in a function room at a bar. The bartender knows us by name. Often, the speaker has a drink in hand while he or she talks. This church also has a homebrew ministry. They meet to learn how to brew beer at home. For communion, real wine is used. Many Episcopal churches have wine and cheese events as their primary form of fellowship.  My own reaction to these functions would not be “How awful that they serve alcohol!” but “Where’s the food?” As noted above, Baptists like to eat. (And my weight attests to the fact that I am a good Baptist in that regard.)

That’s just one of many examples of different styles of fellowship among denominations. I am sure there is plenty of overlap, too.  And lot’s of variance amongst churches of particular denominations.

I don’t know why I am giving this thought now. Perhaps because I am trying to bring youth from different churches together. It’s an interesting thing to reflect on.

What is the culture of your church? How do you enjoy each other’s company?


  1. Interesting!

    My spiritual faith is an East Indian one and they have huge meals on special holidays, etc. where people gather and eat together. The food is abundant and delicious. It's very special. These are called, "Bandaras!"

  2. How interesting, I never thought about this....our church (well to be honest I don't go anymore because when the kids were little, and very quiet and well behaved in church, the members were still complaining to their friends down the street about having kids attending their church, so I stopped going.....but they quite often gather around's a mix of bought and home made....a mix of casseroles and finger food....communion used to be non alcoholic....but I think that might have been because the minister at the time didn't actually drink....not for any particlar reason it was just his choice