Comparison of Catholic and Protestant worship services

Hello everyone,
Could someone briefly describe the normal flow of events at a typical Catholic Mass? As a Protestant, I would like to better understand the similarities and differences.

At my church, the service usually flows as follows:

– Praise and Worship. Parishoners sing praise songs for about 25-30 minutes. This is led by a team of singers made up of a music minister and congregants who like to sing and are good at it, which leaves me out :). There is a service that has traditional music and hymns generally attended by the older generation, while the younger generation usually attends a contemporary service (same preaching but with modern music that the older folks generally don’t like as much).

– Meet and Greet (@5 minutes). Parishoners greet one another and are especially encouraged to reach across the aisle and greet newcomers or other parishoners who they don’t know very well and help them feel welcome.

– Holy Communion. Unlike Catholics, we don’t have Holy Communion each week, but some Protestant churches do. Based on previous threads, I now better understand why Catholics celebrate Communion each week and I respect it very much.

– Sermon by the pastor (30 minutes, roughly). This is considered the spiritual “main course”. Our pastor usually has a monthly theme to his sermons. For example, a recent theme was ‘Breaking down Strongholds that keep us from becoming all we can in Christ’. One statement from that series that stood out to me as true was, “Any aspect of your life that you keep from God, keeps you FROM God”.

– Invitation to accept Christ as Savior. With all heads bowed, the pastor asks for people to raise their hand if they want to receive Christ as Savior. If they do, the pastor encourages them to go pray with a pastoral staff member at the last phase of the service,

– Prayer time where pastoral staff and other lay leaders go to an aisle or other accessible place in the sanctuary. Those who desire to pray for a particular need are invited to pray with one of these folks. Typical needs may include but are not limited to prayer for an upcoming surgery, trip, sickness, a wayward family member, a job or family situation, etc). This is not to be confused with the Catholic sacrament of Confession.

Thanks for reading your post. I look forward to see how similar and different our services are.

Your brother in Christ,
Tom

It would take up too much space to write out the order of the Mass, so here’s a website that explains it: catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/Mass.htm.

As you can see, many Christian churches follow the basic order set out in the Mass, established over the centuries. The differences, as I see it are that in many Protestant services certain parts of the Mass have been inflated (for lack of a better word), others truncated, while others eliminated. If you do a comparison it becomes evident which parts are longer, shorter, or not celebrated. I hope that helps. :slight_smile:

In brief:

Penitential rite: calling to mind sins and asking for forgiveness and our community to pray for us so as to keep us from further sin
A prayer of glory and praise to God ( Sumdays only)
Old Testament reading ( during Easter it is Acts)
Sung Psalms
Reading from an epistle ( omitted on weekdays)
Gospel reading
Homily ( typically 10 minutes, the least important part of the mass IMO)
Recite the Nucene Creed ( Sindays only)
Preparation of communion gifts
Eucharistic prayer( the consecration)
Recite Our Father
Sign of peace
Recite Agnus Dei and other prayers to prepare for communion
Communion
Final blessing

Just to add a little to tafan’s comprehensive list, we usually sing a processional and recessional hymn along with communion hymns during reception of the Eucharist. Sunday Mass usually runs about an hour and weekday Masses from 30 to 45 minutes.

The most important part of the Mass: the Consecration and the Celebration, where we partake of Our Lord Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. There is no better way to know Jesus as your personal Savior.

m.youtube.com/watch?v=cqLxUExgZVQ

1,385…

Here is a very clear biblical introduction to the mass, accompanied by the scriptural citations.

salvationhistory.com/studies/lesson/supper_a_biblical_introduction_to_the_mass

:rotfl:

I am not trying to be facetious and ask in kindness. Are not the folks sitting in the pews Christians and if so do they not accept Christ as the Savior? i know that there is the occasional guest that may not be a Christian, however the odds are most if not all that are in attendance are Christians. :slight_smile:

Tom, take a look at this video. Peace! youtube.com/watch?v=co0qalRkEJs

Lutheran Divine Service

Invocation (either preceded or followed by an Invocation/Processional/opening hymn)
Order of Public Confession and Absolution

Service of the Word
Introit
Kyrie
Hymn of Praise (Gloria In Excelsis or This is the Feast [omitted during Advent and Lent])
Salutation and Collect of the Day
Old Testament Reading (usually Acts during Easter)
Epistle Reading
Holy Gospel +
Sermon Hymn
Sermon/Homily
Creed - Apostles or Nicene (Athanasian on Trinity Sunday)
Offering / Offertory
Prayer of the Church

Service of the Sacrament
Preface
Sanctus - “Holy, Holy, Holy”
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Words of Institution / consecration
Lord’s Prayer
Pax Domini
Agnus Dei
Distribution
Post Communion Canticle (Nunc Dimittus)
Post Communion Collect
Benediction
Closing/Recessional Hymn

lsb.cph.org/samples/LSB_Sampler.pdf
Setting 1 starts on page 27.

Jon

Unless people actually like going to church and actually invite their friends, family, and bring their children and grandchildren. :slight_smile:

Hi wmscott,
You are correct. The vast majority of the people sitting in the pews are already Christians and don’t raise their hand to accept Christ as their Savior. However, sometimes there is a visitor or relative of someone who makes that crucial and blessed decision. And, believe it or not, someone may raise their hand to receive Christ as Savior who has been attending for awhile who had not been ready to make the decision until that point in time.

As I’m sure you are aware, going to church doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian any more than going into a garage necessarily makes you a car.

To Della and p018guy, what is the significance of 1,385? I apologize but I don’t get it. Would you be willing to share?

Thank you for the layout, tafan. In terms of music, is the music classical, contemporary, hymns, or like a Gregorian chant or something to that effect? I find those to be very mezmerizing and fascinating. Are there Catholic masses with contemporary music? Just curious. Thanks for your replies.

I agree, Itwin. There are people within our church who recently accepted the Lord as Savior who bring others with them who sometimes make the same decision at some point.

Because others have addressed what takes place in the Mass, I’ll touch on the Protestant service you describe.

I will say that I’ve seen some pretty radical differences in the Protestant services I’ve attended. One of my family members no longer attends the Mass after marrying a United Methodist. Their service seems a lot different from what you describe.

Praise and worship is part of Catholic service, but generally not for as long as you describe here. We generally sing one hymn during the procession at the beginning of mass, the Gloria before the readings (which is sung at my parish), the Psalm (usually sung on Sundays and sometimes on weekdays), an Alleluia right before the Gospel reading. There is usally one songs during the presentation of gifts, 1-3 songs during the reception of Eucharist, and one song after the closing prayer as the presiding priest and the ministers process out.

– Meet and Greet (@5 minutes). Parishoners greet one another and are especially encouraged to reach across the aisle and greet newcomers or other parishoners who they don’t know very well and help them feel welcome.

For most Catholics, a handshake and “peace be with you” during the sign of peace is the most “fellowship” we get in Church. At my parish, I participate in a small group weekly meeting, where much of my fellowship occurs.

– Holy Communion. Unlike Catholics, we don’t have Holy Communion each week, but some Protestant churches do. Based on previous threads, I now better understand why Catholics celebrate Communion each week and I respect it very much.

If you’ve already seen threads on the topic, you know how central the Eucharist is to the Church. I don’t know of any Protestant denomination that thinks of the Eucharist in the same way that Catholics do. Lutherans believe in the “real presence” of Jesus in their communion, while many others consider “the Lord’s Supper” just a symbol. The Church teaches that only a validly ordained priest is capable of doing what Jesus did in the Last Supper, and generally view Protestant ministers as lacking the ordination needed to conduct the sacrament.

– Sermon by the pastor (30 minutes, roughly). This is considered the spiritual “main course”. Our pastor usually has a monthly theme to his sermons. For example, a recent theme was ‘Breaking down Strongholds that keep us from becoming all we can in Christ’. One statement from that series that stood out to me as true was, “Any aspect of your life that you keep from God, keeps you FROM God”.

It’s very unusual to hear a priest preach for more than 10 minutes. I’ve heard homilies that are longer than that, up to 30 minutes at times, but only the priest with the true gift of preaching generally feels comfortable doing so. Pope Francis himself suggests that priests not preach for more than 10 minutes. That may be one difference between people who enter the Catholic priesthood and people who choose to be Protestant ministers. In many ways, it’s not only a different life, but calls for different skills. Not that I don’t wish more priests were as skilled in preaching as some Protestant pastors…

– Invitation to accept Christ as Savior. With all heads bowed, the pastor asks for people to raise their hand if they want to receive Christ as Savior. If they do, the pastor encourages them to go pray with a pastoral staff member at the last phase of the service,

This section and the last illustrate key difference from the Mass. To Catholics, our baptism is the signifier of the covenant that makes us part of the Body of Christ (Galatians 3:27-29, Matthew 26:19). Christ is our Savior. Through baptism, we have received the sanctifying grace by which we are saved. But if one turns their back on God by committing a mortal sin (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 John 5:17; Romans 2:5-6), they are no longer in a state of sanctifying grace. Only by confessing their sins to a priest can someone who has committed a mortal sin regain sanctifying grace (John 20:23; James 5:16).

As a result, accepting Christ as Savior is a wonderful thing, but to the Church it’s not enough. Of course, we all throw ourselves on God’s mercy, knowing that it is beyond any gift we can imagine. But as Catholics, we rely on Christ’s instructions and the Bible to show us not just how to believe, but how to live.

– Prayer time where pastoral staff and other lay leaders go to an aisle or other accessible place in the sanctuary. Those who desire to pray for a particular need are invited to pray with one of these folks. Typical needs may include but are not limited to prayer for an upcoming surgery, trip, sickness, a wayward family member, a job or family situation, etc). This is not to be confused with the Catholic sacrament of Confession.

That’s a truly beautiful part of your service. Catholics perform this type of prayer service as well, but not as frequently. At my parish, we have a healing service about once per quarter in which a priest performs the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (James 5:14-15), and also have prayer teams who pray in the manner you describe.

We are one body in one Lord, Tom.

Agape!

Thank you very much, fnr. Your response is the kind of answer I was hoping for when I started this thread. :thumbsup: You explain it very well and thanks for the scriptural references. I will look them up in the Bible. By the way, I attend an Assemblies of God church, which is more evangelical in nature than the Methodists, in general.

Tommy999, the 1385 is an inside joke between pol18guy and me. It’s the fictitious number of times I’ve posted the same thing he would have posted, but I beat him to it. It’s just meant to be funny. Sorry for confusing you. :blush:

I was in the Assemblies of God for about 20 years. I’ve often wondered how much it has changed/stayed the same in the 20+ years I’ve been Catholic. Anyway, I hope we can help you with your questions. God bless you. :slight_smile:

Sorry! That is the estimated number of times she has beat me to the draw in posting a similar response.

As to altar calls, a number of Catholic converts here at CAF have said that this was the closest they could ever come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) in their former communions. Since there was nothing else in their services to approximate the formal confessing of one’s sins (or the reassurance that they had been forgiven), they would participate in the altar call.

As to James 5:16, at the start of mass, we cxonfess publicly that we have sinned, in the Penitential Rite. As to personal confession/Reconciliation, those who object most vociferously to it have likely never participated in it. A wonderful, freeing and spiritually uplifting Sacrament.

As well, the celebrant of the Mass is Christ. He acts through the Priest. In the mass, we are 1) in the upper room, 2) at the foot of the cross, and 3) at the empty tomb. It is the Church’s greatest prayer. When properly participated in, it is an amazing experience, a miracle in our presence, and is accompanied by the entire host of heaven. It brings tears of sorrow that become tears of joy.

Have you been to a mass?

Could not have said it better myself. All summed up in 2 sentences. thumbsup::thumbsup::
gives me goose bumps.

Quote from po18guy:
“Have you been to a mass?”

Other than attending a couple of funerals for family members of Catholic friends with whom I work, I’ve attended only two masses in my lifetime. Both were a long time ago. I attended a mass with a high school buddy during a time when we were both desiring a deeper walk with God back in the mid 1970’s. All I remember is that it was nice and that I saw some friends from high school there who I didn’t know were Catholic. The only thing I still remember (besides seeing my basketball coach. who I didn’t know was Catholic) that stood out to me was that they let me take Communion with my friend even though I was Protestant after the priest asked me if I believed the bread and wine were actually the body and blood of Christ and I said ‘Yes’. I figured if he said it and he was God’s representative, then they were.

The other time I remember vividly. It was Christmas Eve midnight mass at the Vatican in 1978. I was studying Spanish at the time in Valencia, Spain, and a group of friends (most were Catholic, and another was evangelical like me) decided to travel to Italy and happened to be in Rome on Christmas Eve because my Catholic friends wanted to attend Christmas Eve mass. I didn’t understand much of what was going on (I was always a step beind when they knelt or got up and probably stood out like a sore thumb :)) but I enjoyed it and thought it was pretty cool to see Pope John Paul II. I also felt a sense of awe and reverence that I rarely ever felt since that time in a place of worship.

By the way, what is taking place when the Pope waves incense around the altar? I remember him doing that a lot before he spoke. I assumed it was a ritual of cleansing o something to that effect.

By the way, when I left Spain after my year there, the mother of the Catholic family with whom I stayed as a border told my evangelical roommate and I that we were more Catholic than they were, and we were Protestants. I’m not sure what she mean by that but she said it with a smile and with tears in her eyes when we departed, so I took it as a compliment.

When you say the “Amen”, it signifies that you agree completely with the true presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. It signifies that you agree with all of the teaching of the Church that Christ founded. This automatically excludes those who are not in full communion with the Catholic (“universal”) Church. However, no Catholic may partake of the Eucharist if they are in a state of mortal sin. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 - which should be read together. If we receive without believing, or while in sin, we risk sickness and death, just as Paul wrote. However, this is for those who already know, so you need not worry.

I entered the Church after “accidentally” receiving Pope Saint John Paul II’s apostolic blessing as part of a crowd. At the time, I had no idea what had just happened.

It is a sign both of purification, as well as of prayers rising to heaven. This article will help explain: ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/INCENSE.HTM

Your very presence here signifies that you deeply love and seek the Lord. She could see this in you. Seeking the truth is a grace from God.

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