Earlier this month I did a post on why it's OK that I haven't made friends since college.
'Becca asked in comments whether I'd found our church to be a source of friends. The answer is no, and I gave three main reasons:
- Our church demographics aren't really prime for two 20-somethings to make friends. There's a ton of old people (i.e., 70 years and up) and the rest are primarily families with children who attend the church school.
- We attend Saturday evening Mass since Mike works on Sundays, so there's no coffee hour or anything afterward, although I don't think there's one after the Sunday morning Masses either.
- Our particular interests don't lend themselves to meeting people our age: I joined the prayer shawl ministry, where I knit with usually 2 or 3 old women, and Mike volunteered for a while with the teen club, where it was him, a bunch of high schoolers, and the same old woman who runs the prayer shawl ministry.
Don't get me wrong -- we love our church. Our head priest is awesome and has absolutely fantastic homilies that are both extremely accessible and incredibly challenging. And we are friendly with the women who sit in front of us every week. We're very happy there, but it hasn't been a great place to make friends.
This week I realized another reason for this lack of church socializing. Everything costs money.
When we first joined the church I found out they occasionally held evening dances, which I was interested in because Mike and I used to go to dances in college and we were in ballroom dancing club together. But then I found out that tickets for a couple were somewhere around $50 to $100.
I soon discovered that every single event held by our church was essentially a fundraiser. Want to go to the Catholic women's brunch? $10 a ticket. The grade school is putting on a play? $15 a ticket. Want to play in the church 3-on-3 tournament? $40 a team.
Two weeks ago in the bulletin there was an invitation to join the church bowling league, a "fun social league" that meets once a month. I called the number in the bulletin to get more information, and the woman didn't want to tell me anything about cost over the phone and said the league secretary would send us a packet.
Not only did we receive a page full of tiny, single-spaced rules and regulations, but we found out it would cost far more each month to be in the league than if Mike and I just went out bowling by ourselves once a month. Plus we would have to pay extra if we ever couldn't make it and needed a sub. It wasn't worth it to us.
I certainly don't begrudge our parish needing to make money, especially as our priest just told us last night that monthly offerings have gone down steadily to the point that the church may not be able to pay its bills this month. Seriously, I get that. And Mike and I could build these events into our monthly budget if we wanted to -- although they're usually not put in the bulletin until the week of. (The parish secretary is notorious for putting things in the bulletin late, sometimes after they've already happened.)
I just wish there were some social opportunities for us to meet other members of our parish without having to pay for it. This is particularly true because, given the demographics of our church, even if we did pay and went to a church event, there might not be anyone within 10 years of us there.
That's not to say they have to be -- both Mike and I have friends in their 50s and 60s -- but it would be nice to make a connection with someone our age from our church, if there is anyone.
What I want to know is this:
- How does this compare to your church, if you attend one? Are there a lot of social events you can attend for free, or does everything have a cost?
- What would you do in our situation? Budget to go to a church event, or just accept that it's an unlikely place to make friends and save your money?
- Do you think it's possible to be fully involved in your church and not have friends there? Or is that a necessary part of being a member of the church community?