Why do Protestants and evangelicals choose their specific church or denomination to the exclusion of others?

  • Because that’s how they were raised.
  • Because they didn’t like how they were raised, and want something different.
  • Because they like that church the best.
  • Because they are convinced that their church has the truth.
  • Because they are convinced that only their church has the truth.
  • Because they like the pastor.
  • Because they like the people who go there.
  • Because the services are enjoyable.
  • Because this church doesn’t require them to donate as much money as other churches would.
  • Because it caters to their ethnicity or social class.
  • Because it lines up with their beliefs, what they believe to be true, or what they want to believe is true.
  • Because this church doesn’t judge you.
  • Because this church does judge you, and challenges you to conform to the truth.
  • Because it’s a “nice” church.
  • Because it’s a prestigious church.
  • Because it’s a church where the common man can feel comfortable.
  • Because they dress up.
  • Because they dress down.

ETA: Thanks to our friend @Phill, I was reminded of the most important reason of all:

  • Because they have discovered, in prayer, that this is the church where God wants me to be, and where I can best glorify Him.

Any other ideas?

I am particularly interested in hearing what actual non-Catholics who go to one of these churches have to say, or Catholics who have known people who go to one of these churches.

And I am really interested to know whether any of these churches regard themselves as “the one true church”, and if so, why?


As a protestant, i really hate that lable, I would like to believe they choose the church that they feel called to after prayerful consideration. That’s how I try to decide where I go, I want to find where my gifts can glorify God the most. I wouldn’t want to just show up and hide in the back one day a week.


That is very inspiring. I like that. May God bless you.

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Thanks! God Bless :slight_smile:

I think it is a fallacy to think one must choose one to the exclusion of them all. I once was elected to a Government Regulatory Board that deals with aspects of all churches. The Chairman for some reason, invited us newcomers at the first meeting to go around the table and say which church we are a member of. Some were Catholic, Lutheran, none, etc. When my turn came, I simply stated that I believe I am a member of them all. To my surprise, all of them came alive exclaiming that that was actually the way it should be!


I live in a place where a number of Evangelical churches have evidently found a favorable environment in the last half-century or so. The Assemblies of God and the Baptists seem to be the most numerous. My wife and I have contact from time to time with people who frequent these churches, though nobody we know well enough to engage in the kind of serious conversation that would yield meaningful answers to your questions. There are just two points I feel confident enough about to offer them as a contribution.

(1) Most of them don’t identify with one specific church. They may go to one church for a few Sundays because they are particularly impressed with the preacher there, and then go somewhere else for a week or two for some other reason, and so on. They don’t feel they are being disloyal in any way. They are confident that they can carry on doing their Christian duty without tying themselves down to any single denomination.

(2) What they are looking for in their churchgoing, above all, is the strength to stay sober, to work hard at earning an honest living, to be supportive of their wives/husbands and children, and so on. They judge the merits of a preacher and his church by his effectiveness in boosting their own strength of character in this regard. Those are the results they’re striving for.

I think it fairer to say that most non-Catholics attend church first of all to worship God in that setting.

I chose my church because it is made of wonderful people, who have immense faith and love for God and other people. Through their faith and prayers I converted from being a cradle atheist. And I stay a member because of the solid community. We help each other, we also try to correct each other.

My Church doesn’t claim it is the only right and correct church, and I like it that way. No one judges me for being a counsellor at a summer camp for kids of a different church. In our youth group, we often get together with the local young Catholics. In fact, one of my best friends is a deeply believing Catholic.

I try to be loyal to the community I became part of. Nevertheless, I always feel at home with any other Christians.


But they can worship God in any church. That wouldn’t explain why they prefer one church to another, would it?

My guess is that the average answer is not much different from what you’d get if you asked Catholics. For example, Catholics can choose which particular church the actually attend (e.g. St. Michael’s vs. St. Johns), no?.

As to “the one true church” - we (Reformed Protestants generally) believe that as baptized believers, we’re part of the body of Christ, which together with all believers is the “one true church”. From 1 Corinthians 12:

“12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”

They can worship God in any church and worship styles vary. I was reacting to your comment that above all the reason they go to church is to develop their character. That might be true of some like Joel Osteen etc. But is not your normal .

Well, I was careful to preface my remarks with the observation that there’s no single person my wife or I know well enough to engage in a serious conversation about their religious beliefs. What I’ve written here is basically my perception of the shared viewpoints that a number of people seem to have in common, just in casual conversation, from time to time, over a period of ten to twenty years.

Ok, that is unfortunate because you seem quite confident in stating the purpose they go to church services.

Fortunately, your perception is way off base from reality. Really, it is about the same as a Protestant saying the reason Catholics go to Mass is because they had too much fun sinning so they need to go tell the priest they are sorry. Frankly, neither one is charitable.

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My experience when i was Protestant was i went were i felt i was being fed…meaning good, sound biblical teaching. I didn’t care what the name or denom was on the sign outfront.


Please note that @HomeschoolDad said in his OP:

I fall into the second category. I am a Catholic who has known people who go to churches such as the Assemblies of God, and who consider themselves as Evangelical Christians. The statements I have made here are strictly factual. There are no distortions. The number of people I have spoken to over the years is sufficiently large, and their statements sufficiently consistent with one another, to give me the assurance that they constitute a representative sample.

Sorry, I misunderstood your first post then, I thought you said you did not know any of them well enough to give meaningful answers.

I am quite familiar with several who attend the AofG and feel it would be a shock for them to find out they go to church for the purpose of self help!

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I don’t think that many protestants are solely dedicated to one denomination.

Every Latin Rite Catholic who is not subject to a personal prelature (Chair of St Peter, etc.) or similar entity is ascribed as belonging to the parish within whose physical boundaries they live.

As a practical matter, Latin Rite Catholics may register at the parish of their choosing, receive offertory envelopes from them, send their children to that parish’s school, and so on.

In times past, the ideal was for Latin Rite Catholics to attend their home parish, but never has it been prohibited to go to another parish, even every week. As far as I am aware, registering at a parish in which you do not live is a fairly recent phenomenon (last 30 years or so). It is up to the pastor of the parish. But canonically speaking, you are a member of the parish where you live, even if you are not “on the books” at that parish.

In recent years, some Catholics have tended to seek out parishes where they like the liturgy, feel comfortable with the general “vibe” of the parish, and so on, and that is not so different from Protestants and evangelicals who seek out particular churches. Sadly, some parishes become known for having more traditional liturgies, more contemporary liturgies, more “orthodox” teaching and emphasis, more “progressive” or “liberal” teaching and emphasis, and so on. Generally speaking, though, Catholics tend to attend the parish where they live, or the closest parish to them in terms of distance. It is common for people who are canonically members of one parish, yet live at its farthest reaches, to cross parish, diocesan, or even state lines to attend a parish that is closer to their homes. Some parishes in rural areas with small Catholic populations extend over an entire county, or sometimes more than one county. Diocesan boundaries typically follow state and county lines, though there are exceptions (e.g., the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware takes in several counties in both Delaware and Maryland). Most US states have more than one diocese within their borders.

Theology. Perhaps this only concerns Calvinist thought but I chose my church then based on how faithful they were to the five points, or to the Westminster canons. Of course such thinking ultimately drove me to Islam because Islam took God’s sovereignty as seriously as I did. None of the Calvinists did. And then once I pondered the absolute sovereignty that Islam believes, I had to take Catholicism seriously because it’s so huge. That can’t be an accident, not for anyone who takes God’s sovereignty seriously. And eventually I found the Catechism and eventually Catholicism’s teaching on divine providence, and noticed that Catholicism takes God’s sovereignty as seriously as Islam does, more than Calvinism does, and its teaching on the matter is succinct, coherent, comprehensive, and cogent all at once.

But like I said at first, theology is another reason sometimes that Protestants choose the churches that they do.

Howdy HD,

Before my “conversion,” (I know it’s not really a conversion but I can’t think of a better word for it), among the reasons I chose to attend the various Protestant churches I attended were:

-I was raised Methodist and always considered myself a Methodist even though I didn’t attend services or like the liturgy

-proximity to my house

-I liked the music that was played

-I liked the pastor and/or the community

-there were opportunities to be involved with the church (I.e. music ministry)

-I had friends or coworkers who attended and invited me

-the church had a good children’s ministry

The only time I personally have ever heard of a Protestant church claiming to be the “one true church” was this one that an old coworker of mine attended. A bunch of us checked out the church’s website and it was very fire and brimstone like. It was very small and a bit cultish in my opinion but hey, to each their own…

Edited to include the church’s website in case anyone is feeling brave:



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