OK to attending this Protestant group?

I attend Mass at the Catholic parish of my childhood (I’m the 7th generation of my family to do so) every Sunday along with my wife. While it’s the best of two Catholic parishes in town it offers next to no activities outside of the Mass. It’s been this way for at least 20 years and the last few pastors have been very hesitant to allow any new fellowship activities.

More specifically the last few pastors have not allowed the formation of a weekly Bible study, coffee socials after Mass, a supper club, or anything along those lines.

A little more than two years ago my wife and I started attending a “non-denominational Protestant church” right around the corner from our house (it took over a beautiful old Episcopal parish church). We do this on Sunday evenings in addition to attending Sunday morning Mass after being invited by a neighbor.

The services are definitely “Christian lite” but they are also not anti-Catholic in any way. The fellowship this place provides has become most precious to my wife and I. When we show up we can either pray silently inside the church (we often pray the Rosary) or visit and have coffee inside the “atrium” (parish hall.) The services begin with 2-3 FULL hymns. The hymns are beautiful/classic, my wife and I love to sing and it feels like we are singing in a 400 person choir. Then comes some quite basic communal prayer, followed by a sermon (often an excellent sermon.) Then more singing, more prayer and finally some more singing. They don’t do baptisms to my knowledge at their evening service. Then we all head to the atrium for a well planned potluck (AKA the “covered dish meal”) each and every week.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to sit at table on a Sunday night with other Christians! It’s also wonderful to prepare a special dish each Sunday. I really enjoy doing that.

After our first visit I met with the pastor (at my doing) and explained that neither my wife nor I would ever consider leaving the Catholic Church or stop attending the Mass but that we were hungry for Christian fellowship. I also explained that I cannot afford to tithe at two parishes and that our weekly giving would be quite modest. He waved my concerns aside, said he understood and there hasn’t been a problem nor any attempt to proselytize us in over 2 years.

Is there any problem with attending their Sunday service? I certainly cannot think of any. My parish isn’t about to change (technically it could one day with the coming of a new pastor) and I would really miss going there each Sunday evening. Thank you.

I’m going to get into trouble for this, but if we had a similar church around the corner from us, I’d probably be doing the same thing, bearing in mind that evangelical Christianity shares something like 75-85% of its theology with Catholicism, and as long as the messages in the non-denom church retained their non-anti-Catholic stance. The big attraction for me would be regaining participation in a vibrant church music program.

Find other opportunities to share fellowship with other Catholics (Knights of Columbus, etc.). I would absolutely, categorically, under no circumstances whatseoever, attend a Protestant church, and especially not regularly or even semi-regularly. Over time this could gradually chip away at your faith.

Hi Urn,
I am in my sixty’s and have been Catholic all my life. I am relatively new to this forum also, or, at least, I don’t post often, but here is my experience.
I “joined” a non-Catholic Christian group of men in a local non-denominational church about three years ago. I love the Catholic Church and would never consider leaving her because we are the only ones who have the Eucharist.
The reason I joined was because of the lack of fellowship in the catholic church (and I have an addiction which is more embarrassing than most). Now I have found fellowship with others and discovered a personal relationship with God. And man, do these people know how to sing songs of praise to God! I am very happy at this point in my life and have become a better Catholic because of my relationship with my ‘brothers’ in the christian group. I still attend Mass every Sunday, and sometimes even during the week. My spiritual relationship with my God has grown in leaps and bounds. And I do not boast of myself but I do boast of God and his grace to me.
My wife does not attend this group with me, being content with our local parish, but she has told me on many occasions how much I have changed since joining this group of men. “You blow me away” were her exact words at one time…
If joining your non-catholic group is bringing you closer to Christ - we are, after all, the Body of Christ for each other - then I commend you on your decision. Enjoy yourselves! God bless.

Emeritus Pope Benedict some years ago encouraged all Catholics to engage with non-Catholic Christians to deepen our awareness of one another.

As well as taking all this group has to offer, why not share something of your own faith and something of what keeps you Catholic? Then they can understand you as well as you can understand them.

You seem well-informed and well-intentioned in going with this Protestant group, and I think it’s a good place to start.

That being said, I think it’s also important to have something going on at your Parish. In my experience, a coffee social is always the easiest to start. If you have a group of parishioners who are willing to dedicate some time, and you approach the pastor as a group, there may be hope. One of the big things is making sure the pastor knows that he doesn’t have to do much for this, and that you will take care of it.

I would also recommend the book Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Parish by the Rev. Fr. Michael White, and Tom Corcoran. The book has some good points when it comes to things like this. Be aware that sometimes goes a bit too far, and relies a bit too much on Protestant theology.

Are there other members of your parish that desire these things? Could you possibly create a “non-parish” Bible study, supper club, etc?

That’s what I was thinking. No one can forbid like minded individuals from getting together to pray, have dinner, watch a movie, etc.

-Tim-

I hate to say this, but how does engaging with other Christians endanger your faith? ‘He who is not against you is for you’ (Lk 9:49-50)

There are many ways. The most subtle is through bible study groups, by simply tweaking meanings just a little, major theology changes. It is not a good idea for Catholics to attend bible study led and directed by non-Catholics; especially ministers taught in different ideologies. Even the strongest of faiths can be confused as many of our doctrines rest in scripture and supported and taught through tradition by the Magisterium; what happens when you take one leg of a three legged stool…it falls.

I’ve seen several people tell me, “I’m only going to this because it is not available here”, only to see them fully switch from full truth to part truths over time. I would strongly suggest fighting to change where you are. Remember this, “where you find the bishops, there will you find the Church.” 107 AD - St. Ignatius

This. :thumbsup:

Dear Urn hi,
Since childhood i have attended catholic school and church services mostly on my own. I was involved in choir and youth programms and owe most of my education in Christianity to the songs sung at church at this time. I eventually married and my new brother and sister in law were ministers in a conservative Protestant church. After many years of experience as well as soul searching years in prayer and observation of both churches I have found a peaceful solution to what my spiritual home would look like. Whilst trying to live as a christ follower I have fully understood that what we seek essentially is gods approval to worship him as we so desire and to fully participate in all the blessings that being involved in a loving community has to offer. The Protestant churches has had a head start in this area. I admit that I rarely participate in catholic services these days but not becsuse i dont love and appreciate all that a catholic church offers but because i know that God recognises me being in his presence no matter on which pew I sit. I am at home in him. I believe we are united in his sight . As we focus on Christ , living the life we are called to live by word and deed we are all fit to cry ABBA father united. I pray for god to reveal HIS truth to you as you work toward peace in this area. But a word of caution. Each mans reality is truth to him so expect many varied view points on this subject. Seek your answers in prayer for their you will find peace that surpasses all understanding .

I don’t see any problem with it. But I would definitely keep an eye out for opportunities to promote fellowship in your Catholic parish.

like someone else said, couldn’t you and your fellow parishioners from your own parish start your own weekly bible study? Are you sure your pastor won’t allow bible study, etc?

how about starting a coffee and rolls thing after Sunday morning Mass, maybe once a month? Do you have a Knights of Columbus or Altar Society at your parish? I find it strange that a parish bible study would not be allowed…really strange. Even stranger that your parish doesn’t have any social functions OUTSIDE of Mass…like my coffee and rolls suggestion.

You have to be careful going to non catholic services…someone might not know you’re already Christian and try to convert you. And Mass is about the Eucharist, not about the music.

They undoubtedly teach heresies. Sitting through that every week is an unnecessary danger.

Besides, last I checked Catholics are still not allowed to worship with Protestants.

Why not just join them for the potluck since they are your friends?

I would say be very very careful in submitting yourself to a weekly routine of attending this group. I say this for a few reasons:

  1. you should be continuing to pray and open yourself to the possibility that your Catholic parish will have fellowship groups in the future.

  2. Protestants don’t always necessarily seem to be anti-catholic right off the bat, and yes some are completely not anti-catholic, but a lot of protestants just do not understand Catholicism. You may rub a Protestant the wrong way one day when they see you and your spouse praying a rosary in their chapel. You may subject yourself to judgement and may even scandalize Catholicism by making it seem like you are skipping out on Mass to go to this Protestant gathering.

  3. While it is nice to meet with other Christians in their environment, there is one thing missing in a Protestant chapel- namely the physical presence of our Lord nearby.

  4. While I cannot be the judge of your heart, and that is the place for God, reading your explanation of your feeling towards this group makes me wonder if you would choose them over being Catholic- which is a big deal.

All in all, BE CAREFUL, PRAY PRAY PRAY, and GUARD YOUR HEART!

Remember that you are a Catholic and remember our Catholic heritage when you go out.

Are you sure about this? If I stretch my imagination, I suppose I can imagine one pastor being not allowing these things, but several in a row? It really is not quite believable. I have seen priests spread across the liberal-conservative spectrum, and none of them would be opposed to these things in my experience. You might not like the “tone” of a particular bible study at a particular parish, but to disallow it? Sorry, I am saying this is an gross exaggeration or a gross misunderstanding of what these priests have said (perhaps they, due to a very busy schedule, have declined to lead these groups??).

Nevertheless, I would agree with these other posters:

[quote=Chatter163]Find other opportunities to share fellowship with other Catholics (Knights of Columbus, etc.). I would absolutely, categorically, under no circumstances whatseoever, attend a Protestant church, and especially not regularly or even semi-regularly. Over time this could gradually chip away at your faith.
[/quote]

There are lots and lots of Catholic groups out there you can find, not directly controlled by your pastor or even associated with it. Look at third-order religious groups (who often have regular events for non-members), Opus Dei, Catholic Charismatc movements, etc, etc, etc. Depending on your type of spirituality, there is something Catholic available for you, that you can rely on being sound and reliable.

[quote=Zekariya ]Are there other members of your parish that desire these things? Could you possibly create a “non-parish” Bible study, supper club, etc
[/quote]

As Zekariya implies: does the pastor of your parish actually control if you do these things or not.

Don’t go protestant, just do a little more searching for a Catholic solution.

Amen :thumbsup:

Not a good idea but maybe you could use the potluck get together as an opportunity to evangelize. Yes they are Christian but Christ wants all in His Church.

Urn, have you looked into the other Catholic parish to see if there are activities offered throughout the week?

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