What do Protestant denominations do well that we as Catholics can learn from?

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The Catholic faith has the fullness of truth. However, we are human, and we do not live out that fullness to its fullness. Although our Protestant brothers do not have this fullness, they share many of our core beliefs.

What do Protestant denominations do well that we as Catholics can learn from?

Is there a particular way that these denominations practice the faith that we as Catholic can learn from in our own faith?

The poll forums.catholic-questions.org/showthread.php?t=641&highlight=faith currently has “Evangelical Protestantism” as the number one religion that is drawing Catholics away. Either they are doing something right, or at least attractive, we are doing something poorly, or a combination of these two. I mean, who would ever leave the Catholic church if they truely knew what the Catholic faith was?

Disclaimer: The question focuses on the positive aspects of these protestant churches. The question does not focus on their errors in doctrine, nor does it imply that the Catholic church will change to incorporate these things.
Oh, I hate to say this, but I think we’ve already spent too much time trying to “learn” from the protestants…

In many respects, we’ve lost our own identities as Catholics as we’ve tried to imitate protestant services and sing protestant hymns.

We’ve blurred the lines so much that many no longer see black and white, but only gray…And if gray is gray is gray, then any church will do…so go “worship” where you have the most fun. 😦

Pax Christi. <><
It has been my experience tha Evangelicals do a number of things well that we Catholics could learn from.

First of all, they tend to do “Joy” well…They smile a lot, and are not shy about sharing their joy in Christ with others.

Secondly, Evangelicals are very weloming to new people. Catholics in particular are always amazed and usually thrilled with the welcome they get. This general good will often encourages Catholics to return, and return, and return…Finally they are won over by the sense of warm hospitality, especially if they are not well grounded in their Catholic faith.

Music is something else Evangelicals do well, and something that draws newcomers back…They sing the old hymns, and of course do lots of Praise and Worship music…It is hard not be be touched by the heartfelt enthusiasm of such music.

Catholic parishes are often perceived as being cold and unwelcoming,and we all know about how lackluster the music can be…Those are the kinds of things that reach out to people…All you have to do is take a look at how the Evangelical churches are growing, and how many of their new converts are former Catholics…It’s a shame.

Either they are doing something right, or at least attractive, we are doing something poorly, or a combination of these two.
Something can be “attractive” and not be “right”. Just look at some of the garbage on television. It can instantly attract you, but it is not necessarily right.

Are we doing something “poorly” or is the truth too hard to take?

I think it is possible that we could not be properly educating our members as to why the Catholic Church does what it does. I think many people leave the church because they are not properly taught the depth of the faith. I used to be scared of confession, bored during mass, luke warm in my following of the faith, then I educated myself with tapes, books, and friends when I felt the calling and the light bulb went off in my head.

I am now quite offended with the “pop-icon” jesus that I hear some of my Catholic and non-Catholic friends refer to and worship. I’m sorry, He is not a rock star. Deep down inside I think a humble, cross carrying, servile worship of God is the path we were met to take. I think the Catholic Church teaches something like this and some people can’t accept it. They want their senses to be turned on. The soul, regardless of what some of them say, is secondary to the flesh and the world.

Sorry. I don’t meen everyone. Just the way I see it.

I have a friend who left the church and joined a non-denominational church. He is always talking about how good he feels when he leaves his church on Sunday, and he didn’t feel that way at Catholic church. His faith, at least from what I can tell by listening, is not about God, but about him and how he feels. Is it truth?
This is a key difference between Catholic thought and evangelical protestant thought.

Catholics have been formed to use reason. The ability to reason is what sets us apart from the animals, and what marks us as being created in God’s image and likeness. We avoid hype and emotionalism, which are often misleading.

Evangelical protestantism is a stimulant to the emotions, where Catholicism is a stimulant to reason.

Folks who leave the Church don’t want to have to think about what they believe, they just want to feel good, and as the old addage goes, “if it feels good, do it.”

They may pray a little or a lot, but if they want to contracept, divorce and remarry, have an abortion, whatever, they’ll convince themselves that the Lord is leading them…Question is, which lord?

Another thing that stimulates those who’ve fallen away (for lack of a better term) is all those nifty signs and wonders.

As for the music, I am blessed to be in a Catholic parish with a very talented organist and a choir just this side of heaven. Clanging cymbals, tamborines, and electric guitars? No, thanks!

Pax Christi. <><
I think it would be great if more of our parishes did something like “Sunday school.” We worship at Mass, but rarely have opportunities to grow intellectually in our faith as a part of our parish ministries. 🙂

I think it would be arrogant to say we have nothing to learn from them. It would also be wrong to think we could learn from them in terms of doctrine. Heck, we made a good choice when we took the Advent wreath from those Lutherans!! 😃 :yup:
… Heck, we made a good choice when we took the Advent wreath from those Lutherans!! 😃 :yup:
Hey! Give that back!:ROFLMAO:

IMO, there’s nothing that Protestantism has to offer. Most Catholics leave the Church because they have fallen into heresy…lost the Faith.
A fascinating thread!

Let me say that I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Garrison Keillor refers to us (I believe) as the “Happy Lutherans,” while others are the “Dark Lutherans.” You might know who they are, but I won’t tell. Let me also say that my wife, my mom and her side of the family are all Roman Catholic. I was married in a Catholic Church and I’ve been to countless masses.

Like the first post suggested, I don’t want to talk about doctrines here, but I also will recognize that some of the differences in the services stem from doctrine. THAT IS BEYOND THE SCOPE.

With that said, let me comment on Panis Angelicas’s topic, a reasoned faith. Specifically, Panis Angelicas suggests that Evangelicals are all about emotion, not a reasoned faith. People go to those churches because it ‘feels good’ instead of making them use their heads. That’s funny. The whole Reformation of the Catholic Church began with 95 thesis posted on a church door in Wittenberg. They were for intellectual debate! but the debate was tabled by Papal Bull of excommunication. Nevertheless, the intellectual side to the Reformation remains strong and vibrant. On the other hand, how sad it is to criticize other churches because they make people feel good. What would a loving God think of that! I feel for Panis Angelicas! 😃

Catholics do a lot right, but here are some thoughts:
  1. Artistic styles did not cease after 1500 AD. Any 600 year old, famous Christian image now hanging in the Louver was pop art in its day. There is no reason that today’s graphic artists can’t send the same message in modern styles. Tradition is fine, but it’s the message that counts. When the local diocese here sends out materials, let me tell you, the graphics no longer inspire. Sometimes, they seem a little weird. I’m sorry, but pictures of the sacred heart of Mary dripping blood just ain’t gonna make be run down to my local priest and kiss his ring. (By the way, TV images of guys-in-robes kissing rings on other guys-in-robes doesn’t help either! Shake hands, salute, bow … but don’t kiss rings.)
  2. Families with young children - especially those who are returning to the Church after their wild twenties - relate to married clergy better. Like attracts like, it’s that simple. Such clergy have life experiences that parishoners see as relevant. Such families are also more willing to trust that children will not be harmed. Whether it is true or not, that is a common perception.
  3. Many protestant churches - i.e., Pentecostal churches - have abolished the liturgical approach to services. My church has not, and I am glad. I like the traditional services far better than non-traditional. But there are degrees of formality, and if anybody has the reputation for formality, it’s Roman Catholics. That holy smoke-bomb, the holy dishwasher after communion, the annoying bell during communion, and all of those Catholic aerobics are far too mystical for most non-catholics. Most assuredly these bring Catholics together in tradition and sense of their Church, but to outsiders, the actions are alienating. If you did not grow-up with that stuff, it’s natural to feel self-conscious as an outsider. If you feel that way for too long, you won’t come back.
  4. The inch-thick, newsprint book at mass that tells the weekly readings, Psalms and hymns is the most poorly organized TV Guide this American has ever seen. First, I need to know (and how would I??) the current stage of the mass (General Confession, First Reading, etc.,). Then, I have to flip through that section of the book to find this week’s service (which might use Saturday’s date instead of Sunday’s, and always is the the Third Sunday after the Feast of St. XXXX). By the time I’ve found the right response, that part of the mass is over. We’ve moved on, and now I have to go to a whole new section of the book to find the right week, to get the right response, try to catch up … dang, I’ve missed it again! It’s not exactly conducive to finding inner peace, if you know what I mean.
Protestant churches, on the otherhand, generally have a new guide printed each week that sets forth the order of worship on one page. In Lutheran traditional services (which are notably similar to Catholic Mass in form and order), there are “Settings.” Almost flow-charts, these settings set forth in order what is happening for that week. The hymn numbers are printed in the guide, and on a placard near the alter. You might not know the tune, but you generally will know what’s happening.
  1. Finally, Lutheran churches ladies serve a lot of Jell-o. There might be something there. If not, try putting some canned pineapple in the Jell-o. If that doesn’t work, try marshmellows! 👍
NO WAY!! We’re not giving the Wreath Back!! I mean, we decorated it all nice and pretty already. LOL!!!

When I walk into a “Christain” bookstore vs a Catholic bookstore I think…ummm…we need to work on our displays. 🙂 I wish we had more avaliabiity to books based on Catholic doctrine (but not necessarily written in a apologetics fashion) for Bible studies. And more studies based not just on doctrine but one attributes of God, stuff like Beth Moore has written, except with a Catholic doctrinal base.

One thing they could never pull off…A World Youth Day!!! It was so cool being around 300,000 Catholics for a week!

I have learned much from my Protestant friends, as they have learned much from me. They have taught me about passion for Christ which has made my worship at Mass greater.

As my Baptist friend said once, “You Catholics do Easter best!!” She went to the entire Triduum with me one year. 🙂
WE can leard from their love of scripture, their knowldge of same, and their seal of evangelization…Until we can emulate this we should not complain about our own catholics leaving the church…
ctrine. Heck, we made a good choice when we took the Advent wreath from those Lutherans!! 😃 :yup:

…You are so right!

I agree that we should be open to learning from others…Matters of doctrine are a very different matter than matters of “housekeeping”.

When I converted to Catholicism, we were Lutheran, but my background is mainly Methodist, some baptist, Presbyterian and Church of Christ…I was shocked that Catholics seemed to leave the learning process after Confirmation…usually eighth grade. I was accustomed to having a variety of Adult Sunday School classes to choose from…Each filling a particular need or doing a particular type of study…

**Sunday School classes for adults not only can provide an opportunity to deepen one’s understanding of the faith, but are often the means of a genuine fellowship…They become, in a real sense, Small Faith Based Communities. **

**. **
I think it is possible that we could not be properly educating our members as to why the Catholic Church does what it does. I think many people leave the church because they are not properly taught the depth of the faith. I used to be scared of confession, bored during mass, luke warm in my following of the faith, then I educated myself with tapes, books, and friends when I felt the calling and the light bulb went off in my head.


I certainly agree that the Catholic Church has not done a good job of educating it’s people. And, I believe that many of those who leave for the “feel good” churches would not do so if only they really knew their faith…Knowledge and understanding are essential.

I believe…strongly…that Catholic religious education should not end at eighth grade Confirmation…Oh, I know there is the occasional class or two for adults, but there needs to be a much more concentrated effort to eduacate adults in their faith…That is the way to insulate them from being drawn into other churches…And…if they still go…a good background in the truth of the Catholic faith will bring many back.

I just started attending Mass the week before Easter this year. I am converting from Anglicanism and plan to start RCIA classes in September with my husband.

I just wanted to say that my best friend left the Catholic Church in her twenties and joined a non-denominational Protestant Church where she is quite happy now. She cannot understand why I would convert to Catholicism … in fact, I get the feeling she doesn’t understand Catholic doctrine very well at all. I wonder how a person can grow up in the Catholic Church attending Mass faithfully every week and not understand the teachings!!

Perhaps education does need to go on after Confirmation. As I share my journery with other adult Catholics, many tell me that I know more about the faith than they do. I ask them why and they say things like … “I guess I never went on to learn anything more after my Confirmation.”

To me this is a shame and I hope it does not represent all ‘cradle Catholics’.

One thing I do like about Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovahs Witnesses is that they are not afraid to go out searching to “save” people.

As much as we may get annoyed at them knocking on our doors, but at least they are out their spreading the Word.

Whenever I try and mention to my Parish about doing something like this, I get the old line that people will return home by the way they see us living.

Sorry, but I think we need to be more aggressive in our spreading of the Word.

Love Kellie
Protestants can sing…man can they sing! And growing up as a Southern Baptist, I’m speaking from first hand experience. Also, some of the best sermons I’ve ever heard are from protestant preachers…man can they preach! While I’ve heard some good sermons/homilies from catholic priests, by and large, the protestant preacher are better, much better.
(I was a member of evangelical Protestant churchesfor 46 years. I was received into the Catholic Church on April 10, 2004.)

I agree with Richard Lamb. Knowledge of the Scriptures. I am embarrassed for my Catholic friends who don’t even know which books are in the Old Testament and which are in the New. No self-respecting Protestant will take them seriously.

Of course, I Corinthians 13 says that “Even if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing.”

So Bible knowledge doesn’t impress me as much as pure and holy love, practical love. But other Protestants don’t think the way I do (that’s one reason I became a Catholic!).

But we shouldn’t be learning the Bible to impress Protestants, we should be learning the Bible because our Church tells us to. The very front inside cover of my New American Bible (St. Joseph) admonishes all the Christian faithful to “learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures…For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

I’m not really sure how the local parishes could deal with this, though, since learning the Bible is a personal decision and no one can be forced to “learn the Bible.”

Also, my knowledge of the Bible came as a result of a systematic education approach that started when I was a small child, in Sunday School. From 1st grade on, my Protestant Church started in Genesis, and by the time I graduated from 8th grade, I had been taught the entire Bible.

And once I was in high school, we learned the Epistles and some of the other harder books.

(BTW, I’m fairly certain that most Protestant churches don’t do this anymore. In fact, when my older daughter suggested to her Youth Pastor that they do a “Bible Study” for Youth group, he said, “No one would come.” Sad.)

So I’m not sure if it’s possible for an adult to learn in a few years what it took me many, many years to learn.

But you could try!

One thing that Catholics might want to try is reading through the entire Bible in a year. I know that there are little pamphlets out there describing a program that involves about a half hour a day of readings.

It’s not impossible. It only takes about 80 hours to read the whole Bible through. It is NOT like reading the Twenty Volume set of “Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Faith”—now THERES a tome!

I don’t want to sound braggacious, but I am 47 and have read the Bible through at least twelve times. The first time I finished reading it through, I was about thirteen. When my best friend and I were sixteen, we had a Bible Marathon–we started reading in Genesis, taking turns reading a chapter out loud, and we kept reading until we finished Revelation. It took us about 69 hours. If you have the time and liberty to do this, you might want to try it. It was fun.

One of the Protestant churches I was in had a Bible Read-A-Thon as a Youth Group fundraiser. The teens signed up for a half-hour, and then read from the pulpit. The readings were open to the public, and continued all through the day and night. I remember going down at about 5 am (I was nursing a baby at the time) and getting chills listening to a lone teenager reading some ancient Old Testament prophet. I think this is the kind of thing that Catholic youth would really enjoy. (BTW, there was sand volleyball, food, movies, music, etc. for all the other teens who were waiting for their turns to read!!)

Another thing that I think would help Catholics become more Biblically literate is a Children’s Club program. A lot of Protestant churches have “AWANA” clubs (and a lot of Catholic kids go to them). I personally prefer the less-competitive PIONEER CLUBS, which not only offer Bible teaching to little ones, but a more “complete” program similiar to Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts. When I was a Pioneer Club leader, we did so much stuff–camping, cooking, Bicycle Olympics, crafts, field trips, nature lore–it was great fun for the kids and adults, and a great way to teach the Bible without sitting down in a lecture format. Is there anything like this in the Catholic Church? I’ve never seen it at my very large parish.

Also, I think that RCIA should include an “Orientation to the Bible” session. In fact, at our parish, my husband has been asked to prepare this segment of RCIA this year.

And I think that parishes ought to work toward getting not just candidates and catechumens into RCIA, but all members who want to re-learn the basics of their Catholic faith.

I am thrilled that my parish and my diocese offers many opportunities for adult Bible study along with RCIA. We have an excellent apologetics class which leaves my head bulging with knowledge. I am enjoying the Scriptures more than ever since becoming Catholic. A lot of things now make sense to me.
MartyL, I think your heart is in the right place. But do you not think that Protestant churches have gone to a “showtime” approach? I do. Your suggestions could just as easily be made at a Board Meeting of our local community theater.

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE theater. I play the piano professionally and I’m involved with community shows and productions. My daughter is a theater major in college and works at many different theaters in her college city. My younger daughter just produced a Musical Revue to raise funds for MDA.
We are a very theatrical family!

I’ve played piano in evangelical churches all my life. I KNOW that it’s a show. Of course, any Protestant minister or church member will deny this emphatically and call me a “subversive.” But I’ve been “backstage” at churches. I’ve attended “production meetings.” I KNOW it’s a show. A good show, a righteous, God-honoring show. But a show.

I don’t think this is Scriptural.

The reason Protestant churches do this is because they are trying to be “Seeker-oriented.” They are trying to reach out to non-believers and fallen-away believers and draw them into the church by making church less threatening, more familiar and comfortable.

Very honorable intentions. I believe that God will bless their efforts.

However, I think the approach is wrong. I think we should be out IN THEIR WORLD reaching out to non-believers instead of trying to get them to come INTO OUR WORLD.

I think this is the Scriptural approach to evangelism and Christian service.

But Protestant churches are getting it all turned around. They have built large fortresses out of the World, and they are trying to get non-believers to come into these fortresses by offering a “Christianized version” of what the world offers.

But there are some problems with this “Seeker Approach.”

The main problem is that Church isn’t supposed to be for non-believers, it’s for believers. Read the Bible. It’s in there (especially in Ephesians).

Certainly non-believers, seekers, can visit church. I’m not saying to turn them away. I think it will be a rare occurrence that they get up on Sunday morning and actually visit a church, unless they are invited by a good friend. Churches who think that they are succeeding at filling their pews with non-believers and fallen-away believers are kidding themselves. The majority of people attending that Seeker Service are CHRISTIANS, faithful Christians, or possibly Christians who have fallen away and are trying to get back to God.

We shouldn’t make the whole church service (or Mass) revolve around Seekers, just as you don’t redecorate your house to make it comfortable for each new guest you entertain.

Yes, provide materials to make the “church” experience more understandable for Seekers. I personally don’t find the Missal confusing at all, but perhaps others do. So try to make it a little easier for Seekers. Our Catholic Church announces what page the readings are on, and announces the hymns so that everyone can join in. That’s reasonable.

But don’t put on a show to attract Seekers and to please them.

That brings us to the second problem. Christians aren’t really very good at putting on a show that will truly attract non-believers and fallen-away believers.

One of the Catholic Churches in our city does a summer festival with beer, dancing girls, and bingo. Wow–the big three–alcohol, sex, and gambling! BUT–the only people who come are the members of the Church! The non-believing world would rather get their alcohol, sex, and gambling in the WORLD, not in the Church! I think it makes them uncomfortable.

To summarize, I think that Church ought to be “different” from the world, not a different “Christianized” version of the world. People are looking for truth and sanity, not just more of the same old same old that they can find out in the world. They’re looking for God, not a show about God.
I agree with a lot of the comments. As a convert with mostly Protestant friends, I know what people think of the Church from the outside. Here is my view:

Protestants seem to have more passion and sincerity about their faith. They seem to really pursue God.

In *Surprised by Truth * (I can’t remember whose conversion story it was), the author talked about how when convincing women not to have abortions, Protestants went a step further and tried to bring the mother to Christ. So in essence, two lives were saved instead of just one.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the formality of the Church. This really used to freak me out as a Protestant, but now that I am Catholic, this is one of the things I absolutely love about the Church. The ceremony and the rituals say to me that the Church takes religion very seriously. It is solemn and beautiful which is what I think it should be!

Also, I do think that Catholics are very poorly educated about the Catholic faith. I learned so much more reading Keating’s *Catholicism and Fundamentalism * than I ever did in my RCIA classes. For example, I was quizzing my 17 year old sister-in-law who just got confirmed and she didn’t know that the Pope cant’ change doctrine or what the difference between doctrine and a practice is. The more educated Catholics are, the better they can express and explain their faith!
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