Discussing beliefs with other denominations

So today I went to a Methodist church because I was accompanying a relatives friend. It was… Different. There was a powerpoint up on a screen, and a person speaking about their experiences and Jesus and all that. Predicator or something like that. People kept yelling out “Amen” whenever the speaker would make a strong statement. I saw no Priest, at least I do not think I did. The speaker used the term “congregation” at times for describing the community /church I assume. The community seems strong in this church at least. These are just a few things I observed.

I spoke to a few people here. A friend that used to go to a Catholic church says she now goes to the Methodist one, and that she began feeling good when she started coming. I did not really want to discuss anything too deep considering I had not seen her in a while, but maybe I can later.

Then I was discussing some of our beliefs with someone else. I talked about Communion and some differences between Catholicism and Protestant churches. The guy began going to weekly Catholic masses recently, so he certainly has the open mind to go where God leads him.

Lastly, another friend that goes to my Catholic school, says her Methodist faith does not conflict with the Catholic teachings there. She says she knows what she believes, and respects the way we respect, as well as likes learning about our beliefs. She also said that we believe in the same God, and when we die God wont critique us on what denomination we were in, but judge us on what we did here.

These are all really nice people, and some are really involved in this church.

Can I get some help on how to ‘handle’ these things? I’ll keep discussing beliefs, but can I get addressed on the observations and discussions I had? What can you tell someone in a Protestant denomination who ‘feels welcomed’ or ‘likes it here’? Should we just discuss beliefs with some people, and let God do the rest? Is there anything we should not say, or at least not in the beginning?
But also, I need some differences between the denominations. I talked about Communion, history, apologists, Canon, Tradition, etc.
Is our Church not as ‘welcoming’ to some people as some other denominations because we follow tradition?

Basically, since I am relatively new to interacting with people in other denominations, I just need advice on how to talk to them, how to discuss beliefs, etc.

Thank you, I appreciate it and God bless!

Be respectful of all people, no matter what their beliefs, background, etc.
Everyone’s beliefs are personal to them. If I have a question about the Catholic faith, I ask a Catholic. Question about Methodist, ask a Methodist. Goes for all of them. If I want to know the wrong information–ask a Catholic about a Baptist, then ask a Baptist about a Methodist, then Methodist about a Catholic, and so on. Some will say—I’m not sure because that’s not my faith. Some will say–well, what I heard was…

Kindness and being respectful goes a long way. I think its fine to talk about your beliefs. I think its fine for anyone to talk about their beliefs. The problem seems to occur when one person or the other decides that if you are not like me, then you’re wrong or stupid or whatever.

It wasn’t ‘love thy neighbor unless you feel uncomfortable, they aren’t like you, etc.’

just my 2 cents.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned tradition. The majority of protestants do not accept Sacred Tradition,

Nope, disagree. I don’t feel welcomed in the Catholic church through the ways I was treated in the Parrish as a non-Catholic…which was quite different to how I was raised.

As a non-Catholic as myself, an inviting “we don’t care who you are” environment is what we’re brought up and, for me, is important in a Church.

I find that most anyone will talk about their beliefs and will have a civil discussion as long as A) No one starts pushing their belief on the other and B) No one makes claims or assumptions about the other. Ask, don’t assume, don’t have an opinion.

You can see from above what assuming and an opinion about someone’s belief can do when all you’re after is more knowledge.

It’s also good to know a bit about the faith community as background. Is it a Mainline Church? Non-denominational? Seventh Day Adventist? Learn your way around the branches of the Church.

That being said, a Methodist is not a Methodist is not always a Methodist. There are many variations within a denomination. Congregations have personalities and they don’t always represent the entire national church. But a liturgical church will have the Eucharist and that will be familiar to you. And non-liturgical churches can be quite creative in their worship style.

Beliefs? I agree… ask a Methodist what Methodists believe. And then take into account personal experiences. That is true for Roman Catholics as well.

This is good what you are doing. Learning with respect for those around you is always a good thing.

What you wrote here sounds to me to be along the lines of the Pope’s words to those of us in the US last wk about the Golden Rule. So I shall up the ante to 4 cents. :thumbsup:

And as Compline said, it helps to learn a little about the various branches of the Church.

I’m not assuming anything. From posts I’ve read on other threads, several Protestants here on CAF do not believe in Sacred Tradition. It seems the bible is all they need. I don’t understand how you call that an assumption on my part?

I like going to other churches to chat with the people there and learn more about what they believe. A couple of tips I’ve picked up over the years–

  1. Don’t walk into someone else’s kitchen and insult their cooking. Ie, when you’re in someone’s house of worship, always keep respect and love first and foremost (even if you 200% disagree with them).

  2. If you want to be listened to, first listen to others.

  3. People are multi-facected creatures with emotions, knowledge, experience, relationships, etc. To reach a person, you need to relate with all sides of a person.

  4. The best way to understand what a person believes is to simply ask that person.

  5. Never “inform” a person what they believe.

Wonderful! I agree 100%!

I think most people are going to feel more welcomed at most Protestant churches. Protestant worship services are typically by their nature perceived as more welcoming. Protestant churches tend to focus on being welcoming. If you understand why this is you can then explain why.

At my old Protestant church people were very friendly when they entered to nave, which we called the sanctuary. They would warmly greet each other. They would freely talk well above a whisper. When you go to a Catholic Church you encounter quietness. I think that alone is off-putting in our modern world where TV or music is blaring everywhere you go. But there is a reason. We believe that Jesus is really present in the tabernacle. We believe that that the place is sacred. We believe that though we are coming together to worship we also are coming before God on our own. We approach God with humility and reverence. I don’t mean to say this is not the case at all Protestant churches, but there is most definitely a difference. And I think it stems from the doctrine of the Real Presence. Some Protestant churches hold to this but I think the strength and depth of the Catholic teaching makes a difference.

I remember even as a Protestant I hated the loud talking before the service. I wanted to quiet my mind, focus on God, and pray. It was very difficult with all the distraction. But I realize most other folks really didn’t mind. The folks who like the friendly talking would have to learn to see the value and goodness in the quiet, meditative approach to preparing for worship in the Catholic Church. You are working against culture and what I think is a lost sense of reverence. So you have to get folks to first appreciate what is the reason for the Catholic approach to worship.

I also think the difference in welcoming comes from the difference in the concept of being a member of a church. For Catholics you are registered with a parish but a member of the whole Catholic Church. Protestants, even when part of a denomination, are more a member of a particular local church. There is in practice not as much attendance of services at other churches. As a result it is much easier to identify strangers. And when Protestants see a stranger at a worship service that person is more likely to be someone who is looking at joining that particular church. This makes it easier to be welcoming.

At my parish, which is fairly large, I see people I don’t recognize all the time. I have no idea if they are visiting from out of town, or maybe they typically go to a different Sunday Mass. From a Protestant point of view it is not very welcoming. But I also go to a weekday Mass at a rural parish. There will typically be ten or fifteen people there and it is very friendly and welcoming. At my larger parish I’ve found the people very friendly if you start getting involved in activities outside of Mass.

I’ve gone to Mass at the Basilica near Disney World. I imagine most of the people there were on vacation. The people in the pews weren’t welcoming, but they were mostly visitors like me. The ushers were friendly. I took time to talk to the priest afterwards and he was very warm and welcoming. It was just as I’d expect for a church that exists to serve the many people on vacation. It is wonderful that this church exists. But having such a church doesn’t even make sense for most Protestants.

In summary I’d say that if you expect to be warmly greeted at a typical Catholic church you might be disappointed. But if you understand the reasons why you might not consider it a grave defect but a result of different theology and practical reality.

Great Post!!!

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