But what if somebody just does not need to "integrate" him or herself into what you call "the life of the parish?"
No problem; it shouldn't be anything expected or forced. But it really is a cultural expectation in America, and lots of folks who want to practice their faith actively seek outlets like work at a homeless shelter, visit elderly parishioners and/or bring them to church, etc. If you don't want to do that yourself, that's OK, but saying that you "dislike it when other people are involved in them in church" is kind of getting into other peoples' business. If there are enough folks there who feel a desire to do that sort of thing, there ought to be an outlet, imo, and they don't have to badger you about your not participating, just like you don't have to badger them about their desire to participate. Taking care of those in need is definitely what St. Paul said "pure and undefiled religion" is, in addition to
keeping ourselves undefiled from the world.
Sometimes I think this constant whirlwind of "doingness" is so completely ingrained in North Americans to the extent that we feel too guilty to admit we don't enjoy it.
I think some folks need to respect their own limits and admit that they can't do it ALL. If you feel you need an outlet to serve, find something you can do easily and (above all!) thoroughly and consistently, and do THAT. Don't go a mile wide and an inch deep, otherwise you will, indeed, burn out, I agree.
I don't know... In Ukrainian large cities like my home city, Kyiv, or Lesya's home city, Luts'k, there are very many Orthodox people and there are wonderful Orthodox churches, with magnificent exterior and interior, with heavenly choirs, and everything that must be there. But there just isn't any "parish life" - and to me, that's GOOD!!!
Why is that objectively a good thing? Why would having any sort of "parish life" necessarily be a detriment to any and all who would participate therein? Why could not people who want to serve be able to do so? I know this may get close to home, but the Protestant churches in the Ukraine are taking in orphans off the street and feeding them while the Orthodox worry about their buildings.
Well, maybe not all people are so extremely anti-social as I am or as my wife and daughter are. But I know that I am not unique, and (closer to the OP) I am sure that there are kids who don't like social interactions. To them, the "parish life" may well be a permanent, irreversible turn-off.
They shouldn't feel pressured to participate then, but better to have it and not use it than to want it and not have it.
The question wasn't whether you would do the activity. The question was whether you consider making sandwiches for the hungry "absolutely superfluous, artificial and utterly without relevance to what Church is about." You did make the bold statement that all group church activities are essentially that. You said there is "no need or benefit" from group church activities. You aren't just saying it isn't for you.
OK, if you want - yes. That is also superfluous and without relevance to what Church is about, I believe.
"I was hungry and you fed me" is not what the Church is about?!