Churches are always responsible for a particular area, and many have traditionally been gathering places for their members. Their functions have always gone well beyond spiritual enlightenment and religious ceremony. Local churches were an important place to gather news and gossip. During stormy weather and famines, people would turn to the church to help explain or alleviate their suffering. For this reason, many churches became a place where the community felt safe to gather for many non-religious events.
Churches traditionally never locked their doors, and this held until recent decades. The theft and violence of modern society have changed the open door policy to daytimes and special events. Even so, parishioners still gather at their local church for comfort, news and community affairs. Churches also have a policy of inviting non-members in the hopes of convincing them to convert. This has been one traditional policy that may never change.