Would it be okay for me to go to a Protestant church service, just to see our differences?

I am a Catholic and I was just wondering if anyone has ever gone to a Protestant or other type of church service, just to see what goes on it and what the differences are. I have seen many movies with the church services in them, so I know there are definitely some differences, but would is it weird for me to want to know how their church works?

Yes it is allowed. Though it doesn’t fulfill your Sunday obligation and you can’t take part in their communion.

It depends on how secure in you faith you are.
Years ago I did it, visited churches that were not Lutheran, including the Catholic Church, a Nazarene church (for a Lutheran, the Nazarene service was an experience, let me tell you), and a few others.

My only advice is to not draw a conclusion about all “protestants” by the worship style of one or a few. The worship in non-liturgical churches will be completely different than liturgical churches. I would suspect that if you attend a Lutheran church, for example, you would feel relatively at home with our Divine Service, as it is so similar to Catholic Mass. A non-denominational service, on the other hand, would probably be like nothing you’ve witnessed before as a Catholic.


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How old and well off are you?

Book yourself a week or so at Taize a religious community in middle of nowhere in France it seems designed for all Christians and any one exploring their faith. There is a website too. To stay there requires donations. Its just the cost of the airfare i am thinking off for yo because from England its cheaper than from USA…

There you will meet people of all different denominations and you be able to learn about their way of doing things by chatting and getting to know them The services are Ecumenical which I assume does mean that Roman Catholics can join in… I don’t think we received communion, I can’t remember for it was a very long time I went. We did when went to Poland that year with Taize community so may be did actually at Taize. But it is a good way of learning about others by mixing with them.

In some of our churches you will not identify any differences because I go to an Anglican church and our service is very much like your own. It is the teaching what makes it different for those who worry about the teachings… If it wasn’t for labelling in fact, you would think you stumbled into a Roman Catholic Church through and through…So by just going along to some services you wouldn’t really uncover what you want to find. Though the sermons may have a different slant to what you used to perhaps but each priest, pastor or minister will be different in a Roman Catholic Church too and you will find them very different to your own…

In some churches you will have to dig a little deeper to find out what you are wanting to explore and in other churches I dare say that you be wanting to leave after a few minutes because it is too different from your own and nothing like you are used to especially if they are using talking tongues etc and you never met ‘it’ before. that is an eye opening experience in a protestant church and that terrified me to my seat :eek: so you may stumble on a service that terrifies you and that will make you think that yours is good and that is good too. It is good to know what others do and to know why you do what you choose to do. People will listen more if you can say you choose to remain Roman Catholic because you have explored what is available and find you think Roman Catholic is right for you because xyz reason… People will admire that rather than the… well i’ve always been Catholic because mother took me… But don’t let it harm your faith too. If you feel you are becoming persuaded then stop and concentrate on being Catholic

good hunting

I’ve been a Protestant my entire life but attended Catholic mass in high school and in college with Catholic friends. Heck, my old college roommate is now a Catholic Priest.

If you are going to attend a Protestant church, I would stay away from Independent Baptist churches or hard core Fundamentalist churches… since those churches probably would believe that the Catholic Church is apostate and is not a true church. Non-denominational churches might not be so judgmental, but those churches elevate their non-denominational status over and above of both Protestant denominational churches as well as the Catholic Church.

Sure you can go, but I’ll tell you that you aren’t missing a whole lot.


JustRebecca -

IMHO, you are asking the wrong question. You should ask “what do they believe and why, and how is this different from what I believe and why?”

I would suggest going to the church website first. Many will give you a statement of faith and what their beliefs are. This begins to understand what their differences are. A few questions to ask…

  • How many sacraments do they have?
  • How many sacraments do you have?
  • Understand each in detail for both churches. What are the differences and why?
  • For example, the Catholic Church believes in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and Sacramental Baptism. Do they? If not, why not? And what is the Catholic response to their answer?
  • Where you see differences, where do you go to know the Truth? And why?
  • When was their church started? Who started it? Why?
  • When was your church started? Who started it? Why?

These are just a few.

You could check on TV in your area - many locations have a CCTV station that broadcasts the whole service of one denomination or several. The big non-denominational preachers like Charles Stanley show only their preaching, although Joel Osteen shows the whole entertainment evening. I would not recommend Joel Osteen though. His show is so produced that you can find yourself being drawn into it even if you didn’t plan to. Very well-designed to suck you into that prosperity gospel mentality.

If you go into another church, and someone ask you why you are there, what are you planning to tell them? Random curiosity? Are you going to admit that you’re a Catholic? If so, what does that say to the person in front of you - that Catholics might be out church-shopping just like many of them have done? I can tell you for 100% certain that if you say you’re Catholic in a Southern Baptist church, you WILL be targeted for conversion! Heavy duty evangelical pressure that you might think is them just being friendly. Invitations to Bible studies, Sunday School, other programs. They will set to work on you with zeal.

Proceed with extreme caution. Why not just visit another parish instead? :thumbsup:

What he ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ said.

As far as I know: no.

Stay close to the Church, no need to be curious about what our brethren not in full communion do in the context of their events rooted on imperfect doctrine.

#2 Mar 28, '08, 2:30 pm
Fr. Vincent Serpa
Catholic Answers Apologist Join Date: May 4, 2004
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 2,610

Re: Protestant Communion


In the first place a Catholic has no business attending Protestant church services even occasionally. To participate in a heretical worship service and especially a communion service can be sinful for a Catholic because such an act is an affirmation of what we believe to be untrue.

To attend an ecumenical service or a wedding or baptism is allowed, but Catholics are not allowed to attend such churches for the main reason of worship.

Now if there are no Catholic churches in the vicinity on a Sunday, Catholics are allowed to participate in the Liturgy of Churches whose clergy are validly ordained such as the Eastern Orthodox Churches—including the reception of the Eucharist.

Although we consider them to be in schism (not in union with the Pope) with the Catholic Church, such Churches are not heretical and share our basic beliefs.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

papal encyclicals, especially “Mortalium Animos” of Pope Pius XI and the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism.

These documents forbid “comunicatio in sacris” which means participating together in worship.

There is no distinction between “actively participate” and “passively participate.”

Do not get confused with the occasional participation in an ecumenical prayer service at which Catholic and Protestant clergy are present together. Those services are carefully planned out so that the faithful will not be exposed to anything which contradicts Catholic teaching.

Also, do not get confused with the occasional attendance at a wedding or funeral, which is done out of some urgent family need for attendance.

Even these ceremonies would be off limits where there is the danger of scandal or exposure to dangers against the faith. (source)

(Where’s 1ke when you need him? :rolleyes:)

From what i’ve seen at the Protestant church services i sat in on before coming to the Catholic Church a few years back, i can safely say that you’re not missing out on much. If i were you, i wouldn’t bother. I cannot urge you strongly enough against it, especially if you’re not rock solid in your faith. I’d look into another parish instead.

That said, If you’re dead set on going to a Protestant church service out of curiosity, and if there’s absolutely nothing i or anyone else here can say to discourage you from doing so, then have a look at their website if they have one. It should tell you all you need to know about them. If curiosity gets the better of you and you feel the need to check it out in person, then see the service for what it is, and take the teachings with a grain of salt.

Think about what Fr. Vincent said in what someone else here quoted. Do you really wanna give something based on dicey theology and teachings any more credit than it’s already got? Somehow i doubt it. Are you prepared to deal with the crazy ideas some of them may have about Catholics? Some of them have horrendous ideas and opinions about Catholics, and they can be rather vocal about it. Are you prepared to deal with some of the more ‘enthusiastic’ members of that congregation? They may mean well, but they can be quite pushy to say the least. Approach with care!

Well…if you want to see what an Anglican service is like, you could always look up one of the Anglican Use Catholic parishes (former Church of England/Episcopal congregations that have come into union with the Pope). They’re 100% Catholic, but they use the traditional Anglican liturgy (which, from what I hear, is quite beautiful). It would fulfill your Sunday Obligation, and you could receive Communion. Again, these parishes are 100% Catholic.

Make sure it’s an Anglican Use Catholic parish, and not Anglo-Catholic (they’re not in Communion with Rome). A listing of Anglican Use Catholic parishes can be found here: usordinariate.org/communities.html

Another place where you could go to experience some liturgical diversity would be Eastern Rite Catholic parishes, if you haven’t been to one already. These are parishes that are, once again, in full communion with the Pope, are fully Catholic, fulfill your Sunday obligation, and you could receive Communion. They use the kind of liturgies that are found in the Eastern Orthodox Church and other Eastern Churches (Eastern Orthodox are not in communion with Rome, but Eastern Catholics are). Here is a video to give you an idea of what you’ll see (this is from the website of a Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish): youtube.com/watch?v=B-8Oy7FwJck&feature=plcp

As an added bit of interest, you may encounter married priests at both Anglican Use Catholic and Eastern Catholic parishes.

I would follow Cardinal Arinze’s advice Former Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.


I, along with other fellow Catholics somtimes go to Choral Evensong (a wonderful Anglican sung prayer service) to Bach Vespers at the London Lutheran church, and next week will be going to our local Anglican church’s wonderful Advent lessons and carols by candlelight. Of course on each ocassion I have fulfilled my obligation earlier in the day - I would go to my Catholic church again but the evening music is simply terrible. If you are interested in liturgy then you can find online links to the liturgies of the main denominations, some even have podcasts.

Yes, just don’t partake in communion.

Curious. the OP says she wants to visit “protestant” services. Ignorng the fact that Anglicans generally don’t consider themselves protestant, why not visit an Anglo-Catholic parish?


I think it will be okay as long as you don’t let it change you or lure you from being Catholic. :slight_smile: I remember one of my assignments in college was to visit different churches of different beliefs. It was interesting just to see out of curiosity. :slight_smile: I remember 1 was a Jewish church service among others. It was interesting. I felt nervous at first then relaxed when I realized no one was going to bite me in there. LOL! :slight_smile:

This man is renowned for his odd views. I think if the Pope agreed with him he would not have invited Westminster Abbey choir (and its Catholic music director) to sing at St Peter’s in June.

No, or very few, Protestant churches will object to a devout Catholic attending their service with an honest heart and an open mind. Some respect for their traditions may be in order, such as wearing modest clothing and refraining from using their facility to try to steal away their members. In other words, don’t be a jackass.

There are some churches that are held in homes and that consist of one or a small, tightly knit group of families and that may not be easy to visit. But if the church has a building with a sign out front or an internet presence listing service times, you should be fine just walking in.

What he said; plus, I’ve been to a few Protestant churches, Church of the Nazarene, Baptist, Episcopal… Episcopal is very close to Catholicism. Nazarene and Baptist are similar, and not at all like the Catholic Church. The last Baptist service I went to because I had no choice(the closest Catholic Mass was 30 minutes away and I have no car) and I missed my parish. It took the same amount of time as Mass, without any sort of sacrament, basically just preaching and greeting each other. So, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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