As many of you know, I am a recent convert to Catholicism (April 10, 2004) after over 40 years of evangelicalism.
I have a question. Opinions welcome, please!
I am always amazed when I talk to Catholics who haven’t a CLUE about Protestant church practices, issues, and lifestyles.
Oh, many of them know Protestant doctrines and apologetics, and have answers all ready. That’s good.
But Catholics don’t know what it means to actually BE a Protestant, especially an evangelical, fundamental, Pentecostal, or non-denominational Protestant.
Being “evangelical” or one of the other groups I mentioned is an entire “lifestyle.” That’s one reason I was so utterly devastated when I was asked to leave my old evangelical church. My lifestyle was gone. I went from activities every day and evening to nothing. I had no friends, no interests, nothing much left outside of my church. Pretty desolate.
I’m not sure Catholics understand that. They think being an “evangelical” is just having a different set of beliefs, but basically, still living like Catholics.
Here is an example. I went to one of the dear priests in our church a few days ago to discuss a problem. In the course of the discussion, I told him how much I love the Adoration Chapel, and try to do a Holy Hour everyday. Then I added, “Hey, it’s a cinch! Just one hour a day! In my old evangelical church, I spent several hours a day at church. And I don’t have to prepare any lessons, music, lectures, activities, crafts, treats or ANYTHING for a Holy Hour! I just show up and sit with Jesus. Cool!”
He laughed along with me, but expressed amazement that I really did spend several days or evenings a week in my evangelical church.
He also seemed amazed that most evangs/etc. do a Quiet Time everyday–or else. (It’s one of the unspoken “Rules” of the evangelical world. Read the Bible and pray daily, or you might not really be a Christian.)
So while Catholics might think a Holy Hour is a really special commitment, evangelicals can’t understand why everyone in the parish doesn’t do it!
Another example is drinking alcohol. Catholics drink. But most evangelicals/fundies/charismatics do not. I can’t speak for non-denoms, since each church is different. And some evangelical denoms are lightening up on alcohol rules. But many churches are still “NO ALCOHOL or alcohol-related paraphernalia such as t-shirts or drippy wine candle holders or Clydesdale horses.”
Intellectually, I accept that alcohol is not evil, but I don’t think I will ever be able to accept it as “normal” for Christian people. (Sorry. I promise not to make a fuss at the Annual Parish Picnic. In fact, I didn’t attend my parish picnic because I knew there would be alcohol and I can’t deal with it.)
Do Catholics know what “seeker church services” are? Or “Praise and Worship teams?” “CCM?” “PDL?” “Focus on the Family?” “Promisekeepers?” “Four Spiritual Laws?” (That last one’s a biggie!)
Do Catholics even know what non-denoms are?
These are all little things, I admit. But to me, it makes sense to “know the enemy.” Wait, I am not trying to imply that evang/fundie/charismatic/non-denoms are “enemy.” But they are different and apparently they attract Catholics, especially teenagers, and it seems to me that Catholics ought to understand what goes on in these churches that are stealing their sheep.
Catholics do know what “sheep-stealing” is, don’t you?!
So what do you think? Is this not important and I should just forget about it? Or maybe write up a stand-up comedy routine about my “evangelical lifestyle” to make Catholics laugh at parties?
Parties? Christians don’t party! Oh, wait–that’s my old evangelical church. I’m Catholic now.
But I still don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable at a party.