discussions over church

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Had an interesting discussion yesterday with a neighbor over church. He’s only been to Catholic church, whereas I’m mostly on the “non-denominational church plan” (but have had some experiences going to Catholic church with my grandparents). He was curious what I thought was different – and we went back and forth for over an hour. It was interesting.


Music – turns out they do have bands in Catholic church as well as us (who knew?)

Classes/Studies – we have more of a Bible Study kind-of thing going on, but they have classes as well – although he wasn’t 100% sure of the content; I figured it was probably more of a theological study sort of thing than Bible study. Same concept as we have with these classes usually offered at the same time as mass/service, expectation being you go to a study then mass/service.

Involvement in ministries or other church activities – it seems like the Catholic church has more defined organizations and ministries but they rely a lot on volunteers to take part; we do as well but it doesn’t always seem like they are as well defined (probably not always the case – I believe some denominations have more defined ministries don’t they?).

Mass/Service – both have a set structure to them – hymns, homily, communion, announcements, etc. versus worship songs, announcements, the message, communion, etc.; usually a pretty fixed amount of time.

Community – he said his family really doesn’t know others but I’m sure this is just as possible; we personally really connect with our church because it is more of a family environment – the fellowship dinners, small groups, this past Easter weekend there was an easter egg hunt and pitch-in lunch. I’m sure the Catholic church also has get-togethers and dinners just as much, and it seems it’s totally up to you on if you choose to participate – I know he said that to him, it’s not that big of a deal if he really knows others there or not.
Media – they don’t do this in his Catholic church but he thought it was interesting; obviously we do it (and that’s the thing I do on Sunday as well) – including the worship songs, bible verses mentioned and the bullet points of the message; he said they just have a song book (which we don’t have but some do I think…)

Relationship with God – it seems the non-denominational church is more into a personal relationship with God and Jesus – directly talking and praying; he said the Catholic church they do pray to God in Mass and supposed to outside of Sunday, but as I was talking about this topic with a co-worker, she commented that the Catholic church is into confession to a priest, which kind-of is interceding on the behalf of God, isn’t it? Seems like the Catholic church are not as big on the personal relationship.

Baptisms – they primarily do it when you’re a baby but then they have confirmation when you’re older so it’s kind of a part 1 and part 2; we just have the baptism when you’re older and really understand it and can personally choose to accept it.

In the end, it seemed to me that the big difference is the formality of things, the structure. Given our church isn’t so structured, everything is more about the relationships – with God, with others in the church.

Please keep in mind that this is about a discussion between myself and another guys that probably have a very small viewpoint over church, so with that in mind:

  • I got to say that I don’t really think our church is in any way better than the Catholic church or any other church.
  • I really truly hope that this enormous diversity in churches is a good thing.
  • I know there are some churches that I wouldn’t agree with, but since I really don’t know much about denominations, I really can’t say that certain ones are right or wrong (when some, if not a lot of people, can and do say that….).
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2 responses to “discussions over church

  1. I was raised Catholic and was recently given a book by a pastor called “Nothing In My Hand I Bring” by Ray Galea, which explains the differences between Catholic and Protestant beliefs. I would highly recommend it. It was a real eye-opener for me. It’s a quick read too, only about 120 pages or so.

  2. Great recommendation Joe – thanks! For anyone that reads this – note that the author became a Protestant 🙂 For anyone looking to give that book a 1st chapter read, check it out here – there’s a link to a PDF with Chapter 1. Here’s some reviews as well. Last note – there’s an interesting forum thread discussing the book here

    In trying to be two-sided (and since I’m fairly ignorant about the Catholic church…), I read someone’s comment that pointed out this book as a counter-point “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey To…”.

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