A Tale of Two Churches

Hey friends!

So if you’ve been listening to my podcast, Oh What a Beautiful Morning!, then this is old news to you, but I’m in Denver, Colorado right now!

I’m out here for a shoot, and in my downtime, I’m just enjoying the mountain air in the Mile High City!

Well, this weekend, I had some much appreciated time to myself.

So what did I do?

I went to church…twice.

Now, I know – seems kind of a bit…much. But here’s the deal. I have heard so many amazing things about Red Rocks Church. I was at this nonprofit event on Thursday in NYC and had an incredible conversation with one of the organization’s founders about Red Rocks in Denver, and how I should check it out when I was there this week.

So I did.

Here’s the catch.

Being a dutiful Catholic, I didn’t want to miss Mass either. SO on Saturday evening, I went to mass at Holy Ghost Church, and then Red Rocks on Sunday.

And honestly, I could not have had two more different, and yet equally moving experiences in my life.

I mean, wow.

Spoiler alert, I ended both experiences in tears.

First of all, walking into Holy Ghost, I knew that I was going to be having a meaningful date with Jesus, as right when I walked in, I was greeted by a huge image of the Divine Mercy. And you know my affinity for that, and its “Jesus I Trust in You” message. So already I knew I was in the right place.

It wasn’t anything flashy. Humble in fact, as one of the oldest Catholic churches in Denver, founded in 1905. A sparse – mostly older – Saturday 4pm crowd was attended to by a lovely priest who gave a homily about mortification – aka the spiritual discipline of putting the flesh to death. Not exactly a sparkling, feel good topic.

And as I was about to tune out, he began to describe the process of pruning and blooming.

And quite honestly, at first my ears only perked up because of the mention of my book’s name sake: Bloom.

But he began talking about how a gardener has to prune the flowers and the branches in order for the plant to grow and produce even more blooms and shoots. That, although hard to do, it is necessary for a healthy and vibrant plant. And in fact, the pruning is done by a loving and caring gardener, wanting the best for his plants.

And it was in that moment that I fully appreciated how my past, and everything I went through with my anorexia and ulcerative colitis, and my mom’s stroke – those were all pruning seasons. And that I need to let go of the, admittedly anger – I can sometimes feel about those seasons of my life. Because God knew what He was doing. That pruning, was actually done in love, so that I could become fully the person I am, blooming with full capacity.

So walking out of mass, I felt completely revived. Having gained a new perspective.

Little did I know what was waiting for me in the morning.

Friends. I’m not going to lie. Amongst “diehard Catholics,” there is a bit of a stigma about the “Big Box” non-denominational Christian churches. The trendy sermon themes, and the coffee-touting patrons, ready to be entertained in cushy chairs by a too-hip pastor with Justin Bieber-hair, that shops at Zara, or Hollister. Catholics love to snark on it. We really do, and admittedly, I have partaken in many a conversation about just that. Zingers included.

So when I showed up to Red Rocks, with the free specialty coffee and donuts, and the concert-style worship music from a man with a perfectly groomed handlebar mustache, a pastor in ripped jeans that were tighter than mine, and a graffiti background/skateboarding-vibe sermon series called “Freestyle” – I could feel my snarky inner Catholic checking off every stereotype box there was.

But after about 30 seconds inside the building, I realized just how dead wrong those stereotypes were. (Surprise, surprise.) And how — real talk — Catholics really have a lot to learn.

I mean, wow. The Spirit was SO ALIVE inside that Vietnamese-grocery-store-turned-church.

I loved it so much I almost stayed for a second service.

I walked in, and the first thing I noticed was that not only was everyone super attractive, but I would say that 70-80% of the congregation was my age. Mid twenties to mid thirties. And they all wanted to be there! 

And within 5 minutes of me being there, I was warmly greeted by – no kidding – six different “staff” greeters, many my age – all genuinely glad to see me, and welcomed to their community.

And it’s not like it was a small little gathering where I stuck out as an obvious “newbie” — although my “Sunday best” Lilly Pulitzer attire kinda stood out among the “come-as-you-are” athleisure wearing counterparts

The church was literally packed. It was standing room only. Probably 3 or 4 thousand people. The worship music was truly radio-quality — playing current worship songs that are on the radio. And I know I knocked on the handlebar mustache man, but boy could strum a six-string, lemme tell ya! The crowd was so into it. And so was I.

But here’s the thing that really was what made it truly special.

And maybe this says more about where I am in my life, but the sermon was so personal. So life applicable. And so moving.

You walked away from that hour and a half heart-fest feeling so incredibly loved. SO loved by our Father. SO welcomed by a community of imperfect people just like me. And SO on fire for Jesus.

By the end of the sermon, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Then they brought in the band – people continued crying like babies, and singing their hearts out to Jesus.

That God-high stuck with me for the rest of the day. I can only imagine what that would be like to go back to the well like that, week after week.

My two church experiences could not have been more different. And yet, both brought me close to the heart of Jesus. And it revealed a gross prejudice I had been harboring, that frankly I need to put in check.

As far as I’m concerned, God is God. And no one form of worship is better than the other.

And frankly, -let’s call it what it is – the judgement from both sides of the “worship line” are doing nothing but create walls instead of bridges.

Because both sides are guilty. The Catholics think the “Big Box” churches are too “entertainment based” faith-periences and the “Big Box” churches think Catholics worship wafers and are too rigidly stuck in tradition, lacking a personal relationship with Jesus.

And you know what – both are wrong.

And in fact, I’d like to submit that both have something to learn from the other. IF we could stop speaking past each other, and constructively come together to talk about one another’s strengths and areas of improvement.

Catholics are reeling, feeling the threat of parishioners being “poached” by the Big Box, but how about we all come together, and compare notes? Because clearly, they’re doing something right.

Does this mean I’m going to abandon Catholicism and jump ship to Hillsong NYC or something else where young people abound (and I could probably meet a husband)? Absolutely not. I love the beauty in the history and tradition of our faith, and the meaning behind it, (namely the Eucharistic miracle and the sacraments) which make it so truly special and sacred.

But, I am going to try to build more bridges between the two. Because at the end of the day, we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we’ve all got the same goal and the same God.

OK – that’s all for tonight – See you tomorrow for my Bachelorette Breakdown w/ BBB Podcast!

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303 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Churches

    1. Thanks so much 🙂 yeah I may start doing that more often! Hugs and love xox

  1. You caught my attention from the title. The geeky pastor in me was dying to read about your experience in two churches. Although I have never attended a mass, my background was in a more formal denomination while I now embrace a more contemporary style church. Both have something to bring to the table, and it looks like both exalted Christ. How wonderful it is to encounter the Lord and His love through people, even when you’re far away from home!

    1. Thanks Matthew! Yeah both were beautiful and great. It was a very interesting experience! Thanks for reading! Hugs and love xox

  2. Wish there was a love button not just like for this post. I have had many Catholic friends over the years. I will never forget some years ago when 2 Catholic young people from Vietnam that came to my Sunday morning group for English told me they pray for me and my class because we had many who were atheist or Buddhist. 5 of them came to believe in Jesus over one year. There is a small Catholic chapel that I go to sometimes to pray. We can learn from each other and encourage each other.

    1. Aw thank you friend. Oh my gosh that is so beautiful. Faith is such a beautiful thing. Hugs and love xox

  3. Whoa, this is really good- and I mean REALLY. I believe all Christians have lots to learn from each other!

    My mom, sister and I read your blog and have been so encouraged in our self-worth. One thing you said in one of your posts stuck out to me: when you were talking about why Catholics display and treasure priceless items, you said that it was to give God your best. Though I’m a Southern Baptist, this has had so much meaning for me as a teen growing up in a secular world. I’ve started to look at myself before I leave the house- am I giving God my best with what I wear and the mindset I’m in? And to be honest… I think sometimes I could use a wake-up call. So much to learn!!

    Thank you so much for this post, Caralyn- I can’t tell you how much your blog has impacted my life.

    ~Annie ❤️ xoxo

    1. Thank you Annie I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! And gosh I’m so touched that you and your mom and sis read my blog! Thank you! Yes we are all one faith family! Hugs and love xox

  4. A great post, you hit some nerves with me. A family member of mine is Catholic and so overbearing about it. It drives me away. I have also met other Christians who attend the Big Box churches like the one I occasionally attend. It has 5000 members. Wow. What bothers me about the big box is that it’s so impersonal. You never really get to know people as easily as a small church setting promotes.

    What matters most is that we are all worshipping the same God. The only God. I find the bickering and condemnation from either side of the aisle to be something that keeps me away from organised religion mostly. My faith is strong as ever regardless. I see people crying during those services, with joy. The sanctuary is overflowing with the Holy Spirit. It’s palpable and I love it.

    1. Thank you so much John. I’m sorry you have had that experience with Catholicism. I promise we are not all overbearing! Amen – the same God!! That’s awesome. Hugs and love xox

  5. This is a beautiful piece, thank you. I love the pruning – Not sure if you’re familiar with Dr. Henry Cloud, but he co-wrote a book called Necessary Endings and it’s focused on that. You also nailed the description of the “big Box” church. I say it with warmth because my wife and our family attend Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas (just outside of Dallas) – It’s a mega-church but is so filled with the Holy Spirit you have to fight for seating!!!
    If you find yourself in the great city of Dallas, my wife and I will treat you to the most amazing worship service ever (we’re a little biased about it)
    Thanks again and super article!!!
    Scott

    1. Thanks Scott. I will definitely have to check out his book! Thanks for recco. Sounds very interesting! Awesome! I will definitely remember that next time I’m in Dallas! I’ve never been! Hugs and love xox

  6. I loved this post so much! I live in Denver and used to go to Red Rocks YA every week where I would usually be sobbing by the end of the the message. But I agree, we should build more bridges between traditional and “big-box” churches because there is so much to be learned from both.

    1. Thank you so much Sami. Amen for bridges! Oh cool! I would love to experience the YA! Hugs and love xox

  7. Wondetful post. As for myself, I dis-sect-ed in November 2006 and never looked back. It is better to serve Jesus as He said to the woman at the well, that neither those who worshipped in the temple or on the hills of Samaria were right. Instead, He announced personal/private worship in Spirit and Truth. Both Church and The Big Box deviate from.His Word in terms of dogma, liturgy, structure, etc. This the pot can’t call the kettle black. I would really love to see Christianity to return to its original ways in first century Jerusalem,before (we) Gentiles corrupted it with paganism, idol worship, animism and what else. I have a friend who is a friar in the Dominican Order, a lovely man. In Cape Town, I saw a few times how (we) Protestants protected grossly erring pastors, it was only a RC priest who acted according to Scripture. I go where the Spirit, and not my gut feel, leads me. Have a great day!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. If you’re feeling the Spirit, more power to ya! Hugs and love xox

  8. Another thought I constantly have is that with so many problems in our country and with the anti-Christian and anti-Catholic bias in our country, it would be wonderful if we had a better spirit of unity between us at least for us regular folks. 🙂

  9. I am so very, very glad that you have now experienced a true worship service at a “Big Box” church and wrote this wonderful post! I am a “Big Box” Church attender/lover/worshiper and admittedly sometimes one of those “Catholics don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus” thinkers. Although I have to say that your personal relationship with Jesus is beautifully apparent in your posts 🙂 I have attended a Catholic service maybe 5 times in my life and found the Church buildings stunning, but lacked understanding of the importance of what was happening in the Mass. Through the years, after meeting several dedicated Catholics who truly love Jesus, I realized that it is what is in our hearts that is important, not what is in our church services! In my Big Box church, sometimes I come out completely wrecked emotionally after having a deeply intimate encounter with God, sometimes I come out so packed full of joy that I am gushing out love to everyone. Sometimes I come out feeling so utterly grateful that a God so Great could love and want such a mess like me. But I always come out feeling SOMETHING awe-inspiring deeply. God always touches me clear to my soul if I go in expecting to meet Him and willingly lay down my agenda at the door and open my heart to hear His beautiful Words to me. I believe anyone can have this kind of encounter, or the kinds you describe here, in ANY church, big or small, Catholic or Protestant, ornate or simple. Band-filled, or voice filled. You just have to check your agenda at the door and open your heart to Him.
    Thanks again for what you do, BBB, so many lives and hearts are touched by your words. <3

    1. Thank you so much! Oh it was such s beautiful experience and I’m so glad I had it too! That is such a great point you bring up – the true beauty of the Catholic Church is what is actually happening beneath the words and he *why* behind the words and actions. And that’s why the initiation into the church is a process. RCIA prepares you to fully know so that you can really see the beauty. Because from the surface it can be difficult to make all the connections. I love what you said – it’s what’s in our hearts. Amen amen amen. Thank you so much for sharing your heart! Big big hugs xox

  10. So glad you shared. Time definitely has a way of changing things. But God is still the same. Your experience is revealing since many today who because of their age difference may have grown up experinecing God in a different manner(if you know what I mean)😬 We all have to be sensitive to these changes and know that God wants us all to make it in. Thanks for sharing this.👍🏾🙂

  11. As a cradle Protestant, I heard all the criticism of Catholics when I was growing up. Then, as an adult, I began reading some of the earliest of Christian writers (other than the disciples themselves) – Thomas a’Kempis, Brother Lawrence, St. Augustine, et al – and, lo and behold, they were all Catholic. 🙂 They were pre Luther and they were so in tune with God and the Spirit that I learned much from them and was inspired to follow God with my whole heart. I agree with you that we have much to learn from each other!

    1. Thank you Beverly. That is one of the beautiful things about Catholicism — it dates all the way back to the Last Supper!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  12. Great take on 2 churches! I know we can always learn from others, but whatever we learn it needs to drive us to be more like Jesus. Also to live in holiness. That’s a word that sacred people but it shouldn’t. As a Christian our desire should be to exemplify Christ. Not try to mimic the world. We need strong believers in these days in America!

  13. New platform suggestion – Beauty Beyond Tears! Be sure to stay hydrated!!

    But seriously, folks… My church back in Ohio was a “post-Catholic” Lutheran church with traditional liturgies, etc. We developed a contemporary worship held in the gym every Sunday; two traditional servies in the sanctuary and the gym overlapping the late service, starting late enough for the pastor to sprint to the other end of the building in time to preach again.

    It was a disaster; there were rifts in membership over who had to be a background singer and who got their own microphones. The leader started thinking they were their own church and the pastor had no right to tell them what to do. It also turned into an excuse to be sloppy with many people showing up in heavy metal t-shirts, looking like they’d been gardening, and even walking aroud during the sermon.

    Obviously, a bad taste was left.

    All that being said/vented I think you’re right, but the trick is always to look to their theology first. One “Big Box” back home had billboards around town, urging everyone to “Feel Your Faith,” which is all kinds of wrong. Joel Osteen’s gospel of prosperity and feel good showman ship to bring In the dollars is leading many down a very bad path.

    If you attended an emotional service every Sunday, would you lose sight of faith and end up going for the emotional high?

    Anything that uses an overabundance of emotion repetitively is something I would be cautious of. Do the traditional churches need to take a lesson from the Big Boxes? I think so, but should tread very carefully in the process. I saw how it all went south at my home church.

    Well, sorry to go on. I just have had some bad experiences. I know we need to do some adapting, but very carefully.

    1. Hey Jeff! Thank you os much for this thoughtful reflection. Wow sounds like a logistical circus! Oh the politics of churches. A bad taste indeed. You think that it being a house of God that there wouldn’t be such politics, but oh the contrary. Yeah, I feel the same about Joel Osteeen. I’ve had to just stop listening to him because every time it produces so much anger inside lol. I think you’re so right about that — faith is not a feeling. Or an emotion. It is a choice. A decision you make that changes your life and behavior! Love hearing your thoughts and experiences on this Jeff! Hope you and Julie had a great weekend! Hugs and love xox

      1. Turned over another year yesterday! Unfortunately, we both had some sort of stomach flu and were home all day after church. My daughter, however, bought us all tickets to go see Gabriel Inglesias a.k.a. Fluffy next month not far from here in Mississippi Great gift!

      2. Wait wait — it was your birthday!?!! I am so sorry I missed it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFF!!! Bummer that you were sick! I hope you’re feeling better today 🙂 And dang what an awesome gift!! Cheers to another year! Xox

  14. This pruning it’s one of many paradoxes in life, you must cut to grow in adversity there is wisdom and more, if you don’t fail can you succeed? how would you tell?. Life can be a hard sell, you can give a man the world and he still needs love to live well. Safe journies sunshine

    1. Thank you friend. Yes! So true – cut back in order to grow. so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  15. This post resonated with me. My parish is a tale of two communities: the caucasian crowd is getting older, losing young people to the more-hip church nearby, while the Hispanic membership is booming, with a lot of energy and a lot of love. Instead of honestly looking at why white millenials are leaving, noses get turned up and the remaining white crowd harrumphs, “We’re right and they’re wrong, so we don’t have to do anything. They’ll be back.” Frustrating, and not healthy. White millenials have left because a connection wasn’t made, while Hispanics of similar age have stayed. Denying that there is a problem won’t solve anything. There is energy in the hip churches, and we need to understand it and learn from it.
    Well done, and God bless– Mike

    1. Thank you so much friend! I’m so glad this resonated with you. That’s a great point – we can’t deny the problem – we need to tackle it head on and work together! Thanks for stopping yb, Mike.

  16. Amen! We do have work to do! As you embark on your mission, I highly recommend a book by my favorite big box guy, Andy Stanley, called Deep and Wide. In it he talks about how we need to be willing to do what you did: Namely, go deep (don’t shy away from our faith) and wide (find ways to appeal to the unchurched) .

    I continue to applaud and encourage your honesty and courage in exploring these topics. Keep doing awesome things!

    https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Wide-Creating-Churches-Unchurched-ebook/dp/B007JJENWG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529369472&sr=8-1&keywords=deep+and+wide+by+andy+stanley

    1. Thank you so much J! Oh I LOVE Andy! I recently listened to his “The Greatest Question” about marriage — it was amazing! i look forward to checking it out! Hugs and love xox

  17. I always enjoy being in a church that makes you feel like you belong. I attended a church like that earlier this year. Unfortunately, it is a ninety minute drive away, but I hope to make it back someday.

    1. oh gosh yeah 90 minutes is a bit of a commitment. but you’re right – feeling welcome is so awesome 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  18. This is why I’m a Methodist. I’ve always loved the traditional liturgy of the Catholic Church, but it lacked the Spirit I often felt at more “pentecostal” Churches. I think United Methodist is an excellent compromise. Spirit and Truth. Terrific blog post as always, Beauty! (Don’t know your real name, but the screen name definitely fits).

    1. Thank you Neal, for sharing that! hah you’re kind to say that. it’s Caralyn! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      1. What a beautiful and unique name! It essentially means “warrior of love” because of the etymology being both “Charles” and “Cara”. It fits you very well.

      2. awww thank you so much! I had no idea!!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  19. Ok- total confession time! My heart kinda fell a little bit when I found it you were catholic (long story, and history has messed Catholicism up for me)- but since I already knew you were a definitely “of the fold”, I was intrigued and stuck around. I’m sooo glad I did. You’ve opened my heart up to embracing my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church and you’ve shown me the sacred and beautiful side of the church. Oh how silly our prejudices are, and what an awaking we’ll have in heaven when “Father so-and-so” and “handle-bar dude” and worshiping side by side! Oh I long for the day! 💗💞💒⛪️

    1. Hi Nita, I’m sorry that Catholicism had been soured for you. I’m sooo glad you stuck around too! Gosh, I am so touched by that! Yes! There really is so much beauty to be found in the Church, as with all houses of worship. Thanks for sharing your heart 🙂 Amen! I await the day too!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  20. I had a similar experience at a more modern church not too long ago. Like you, I left feeling so full of His love. I go to a more traditional church and was pleasantly taken aback by the “Big Box” church. Thank you for sharing 😊

    1. Thank you Robyn! Yes! It really is such a great feeling 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      1. Well let’s get lunch or something. I can’t pass up an opportunity to actually meet you. That’d be like the highlight of my year. We never meet other bloggers in real life.

      2. Aw, thank you for the invitation! Unfortunately I’m here for work so my schedule is crazy! I’m hoping to be back soon though so perhaps then! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  21. Loved that you love both experiences. I know there are people in both camps who love Jesus. And just as concerning, people in both who love their church experience and friends, but don’t yet know Jesus. May we never fail to see those around us who still need to come to the Saviour in loving repentance, to become one of his children.

    1. Thanks friend! Yes! We’re all team Jesus. That’s a beautiful prayer. Amen

  22. In terms of coming together and comparing notes, I might’ve suggested InterVarsity Christian Fellowship if you were in college. I’ll write this anyway for those who are in college and resonate with Caralyn’s message. Many chapters, including the one I was in, had many different denominations among their students. This provided a really easy opportunity to compare notes with my Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc brothers and sisters. To this day, we all share songs we wouldn’t know if we just stuck to our faith traditions. It’s pretty cool.

    1. I remember IVCF! I wasn’t a part of it but admired their mission. Thanks! Hugs and love xox

  23. Ahaha loved this so much! ❤️ yes, we have so much to learn from each other! Let us build bridges, not walls. I go to both- catholic mass and non denominational church, and I always feel God in both. At the end of the day we all worship the same God. Blessings, thank you for sharing Caralyn.

  24. I wondered reading this if you were in any way influenced to check out that church after reading my “this is my story” blog. lol wishful thinking maybe. I live for impacting others and this blog definitely impacted me. I follow Bethel Church in Redding Cali and I highly recommend checking them out on YouTube, worship and the sermon by Bill Johnson. Some of the associate pastors there are evangelical and went to meet the pope and talk about unity! Chris valloton made a blog about it which is amazing.

  25. always remember the best thing about churches is that there are people in them and the worst part is that are people in them. Churches spend way to much focussing what is different between them.

    1. Hah – there’s a lot of truth in that. Unity is what we need! Hugs and love xox

      1. I was the Discipleship Director at our church for years and truly loved dealing with the congregation it was the business side of it I got tired of dealing with. I do miss it. It took me 2 years to get AEDS put in the church.

      2. The part that got frustrating for me was other board members were focused on the business side of things and not the congregation. I finally said to my fellow board members that they had things backwards. I just told them if you don’t take care of the congregation you won’t have to worry about the business side! I can’t hide going to church because my name is on several walls. The other side of that is I have major connections within a certain denomination. Remember that no matter how tough things get all the garbage you have gone through up to that point has prepared you to handle that moment at that second.

  26. Carolyn, I don’t know if you read a lot and this is just a oassing recommendation, but Catholic theologian Peter Kreeft has some reeaally interesting insights in his book “Catholics and Proestants: What can we learn from eachother?” But all your instincts I think are good! (Although, as an aside, I think the church should be a very quiet, mysterious, sacred place of worship, and that Christian rock, while wonderful and fun should be after mass with pizza and flashing lights in the Parish Center Meeting Room).

    1. Peter Kreeft! Yes! I definitely know him! I’ll have to check it that book. Thanks! I like your idea about after mass!! Hugs and love xox

  27. You find the good and the bad in all kinds of churches. You find all kinds of people in different kinds of churches. Every church has the “my way or the highway”. Every church has very inspirational clergy, and every church as those who drive people away. I can attest that sometimes a Catholic Church can have different spiritual vibes depending on what area of the country you are in. When we moved from NY to SC in 1994, it was such an eye opening experience to see and experience (for 6 years) a different Catholicism. The way masses, seasons, etc.. were celebrated and felt made NY churches (when we visited back up) seem like they were just “going through the motions”. But in moving back up here we’ve seen a Catholic Church that has tried to open itself more. So many stories about people marred by Catholicism in the past. You want my story?? I WAS MARRED BY BIG BOX RELIGION IN THE PAST! Where I grew up, a big box church moved in, years later after I was gone. A friend of the family lost a LOT of money to that church and then later the pastor (one of those that everybody throws there heart out too etc…) was brought up on big time $ fraud. When I was in college, there was a chapter of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and their “recruiting tactics” were very falseleading as they would lie to students about coming to their gatherings, to try to get them to come (making them sound like something other than what they really were). There were people in my dorm who had gotten involved with them and they were trying to practically brainwash them into a baptism that they didn’t even want. What kept up MY faith in college? A good old traditional Catholic Church on the other side of town. You see good and bad in all churches. Hugs and Love!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    1. thank you so much Miguel for this great insight. Yeah there are definitely different “flavors” of parishes out there. I love the one I go to in NYC. They’ve been able to incorporate that moving worship music into the litergy. It was awesome. Oh gosh I’m so sorry to hear that about your and your friend’s experience. Makes me sad. And amen! I’m so glad about that! Hugs and love xox

      1. Probably the most interesting Catholic parish I have ever been to was somewhere in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina. You had many Bible Belt influences on the Catholic Church down there. This one (and I can’t remember where it exactly was, or what it was called, had, instead of the traditional holy water font to bless yourself, this “river” of holy water that “flowed” from the entrance , where you blessed yourself, to back of the altar, where it come out on the other side to be the Baptismal font as well. Quite a set up. 😉

  28. Nice post, Caralyn. I agree with you – we are all the family of God, even though we worship in different styles. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” Matthew 18:20. Worship styles may differ, but Jesus does not! He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Glad you had a great weekend. 🙂

    1. Thank you friend. Yes! Same family!! And amen – Jesus does not differ! Hugs and love xox

  29. This is interesting. I have been known (nearly every time I run lately) to burst out in tears while on a foothills run listening to modern worship songs. Yet, I have been ministered to so much by attending my current home church, which is an Anglican congregation and has decidedly traditional liturgy and Eucharist service. The many facets of Christianity are fascinating, and how they can minister to someone at various places in their life. You touch on nicely here that there is a place for the many faces of his church.
    rethinkredorepair.wordpress.com

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that. Aww I can definitely relate. There’s something so moving about worship music. Hugs and love xox

  30. Beautiful how diverse God likes us. He totally doesn’t care about differing ceremonies but cares deeply about our hearts and motives. Love that about Him. Love you as ever, friend. ❤ XO

    1. I love that – He cares about our hearts. There’s a lot of truth in that! Thanks Tonya for stopping by and your kind words! Love you friend!! Xox

  31. I was bought up in a town that had a strict divide between Catholics and non-Catholics back in the 1950’s. I found that quite a turn off and compared that spirit with the simple life Jesus demonstrated on earth and the various prejudices He suffered from the traditional Jewish and the big box Greco-Roman religions. His life to me compared positively with both negativities mentioned. So I abandoned both options and tasted the world to the extreme, but the simple Gospel of Jesus continued to work on my mind and I eventually yielded to Him on a personal basis. I refuse to take a label and being called one label or another is not going to get us into heaven. It is a personal relationship with Jesus that is going to make it possible for me to experience heaven, not confession to an earthly person, doing penance or any of that stuff. My “works” will be an outgrowth of my experience with Jesus, not the method of getting me there. My label is Christian and while we all have slightly different interpretations of Scripture I’m part of a fellowship of believers, the children of God. I look forward to meeting you up there and we can enjoy the delights of heaven together with all the other pilgrim believers. Keep writing your uplifting blogs.

    1. Thank you for sharing that Ian. I agree that we are all Children of God! And aw you’re sweet. I look forward to that day too! Gosh that will be amazing 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  32. I enjoyed this post so so much! I definitely go to one of those “Big Box” churches that freak out the catholic churches in my area and I have been around more than a few discussions about the”rigidness” of the traditional catholic church. I love your mature perspective and how you were able to find love for both styles. It would be soo cool to be able to bridge the gap between the traditional and the contemporary churches, they both have so much to offer.

    I really appreciate your writing! Always so refreshing!

    1. Aw thank you so much Nicole! What a kind thing to say. I would loveeeee to bridge that gap too!! Both have so many beautiful aspects! Hugs and love xox

  33. MARK 10:17 -25
    Patricia A. Bow January 21,1972

    I live in the soft prison of my desires,
    home of all my comforts.
    There is no other tenant,
    and nothing breaks the silence.

    Outside, in the clarity of sun and wind,
    God’s voice reaches men
    as well as angels,
    hands touch,
    and eyes look out for love.

    I am a prisoner,
    reaching no hands outward,
    having withdrawn self to self.
    Accustomed to my prison now,
    I love it, fear to leave it.

  34. Welcome to Denver! My home town. My wife is third generation, and our grandkids fourth! Great town but definitely has growing pains. We attend a fine Presbyterian church. But I’ve gone to silent retreats at a Jesuit retreat house for decades. Viva la difference.

    1. Thank you Spencer! Oh lucky you! It’s such a beautiful city! Oh wow – yeah going on a silent retreat is definitely on my bucket list! Hugs and love xox

  35. Awesome post! You are so right – we all have a lot to learn from each other. Jesus called us to be ONE church. We need to work to accomplish this and your insights will hopefully inspire others to widen their perspectives. Keep up he good work! 🙏🏼❤️🕊

    1. Thank you so much Janeen! Yes! One church!! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 big hugs to you xox

  36. Once you said “Colorado” and “Church”, I IMMEDIATELY thought of Red Rocks Church!! I’ve been listening to their sermons on podcast since 2012 and the Lord has used that church SOOO much in my walk with Him! Such awesome post!!

    1. Oh that’s so amazing! Yeah I just downloaded their podcast and it is going to become a weekly staple in my life! I’m so glad that you know them too! Hugs and love xox

    2. If you’re ever in the area you MUST go and experience the Spirit and the energy in that place. He is ALIVE in there!!!!!!

    1. Haha still mountain time for sure. Heck, I’m still watching the bachelorette! Haha Hugs and love xox

  37. Fantastic. And precisely my soapbox with regards to church. Having been in several different denominations, from Anglican to Charismatic, I long to see the unity of the Church transcend the theological and practical squabbles. All in all, we see through a mirror dimly… and we could all learn from each other, indeed! 🙂 Thanks again. -ES

    1. Thanks ES. I love that – it’s so true – we could alllll learn from each other! Hi

  38. So good!

    I’m evangelical-charismatic with a leaning to Hillsong and Vineyard, and a love for an ecumenical, Jesuit-run chapel in Brussels, where I use to go for Thursday-lunchtime prayer services until we left Brussels last September.

    But I had one of my most intense spiritual experiences in a the small Romanian Orthodox church next to the Metropolitan’s HQ in Bucharest. I still shed tears of joy to write about it. Nothing was happening like a sermon or worship songs, but an old lady was face-down on the floor in worship while a young lady was looking reverentially at an icon and priests sang hidden behind a screen. God was being worshipped and had been worshipped there for hundreds of years, I guess. His presence was strong. That presence moved me to tears. It still does wherever I encounter it/Him.

    We have much to learn from each other!

    Brian McClaren has written an excellent book about this called “A Generous Orthodoxy” (link below). He makes your point: why not see what we can learn from the way other streams of Christianity “do church” instead of pretending that we have the only good way?

    John Wimber, who founded the Vineyard church movement, once said that he believed that “they” HAVE to worship “like that” so that we can worship the way we feel is best for us. All sincere forms of worship are necessary to worship Him as He deserves!

    https://www.amazon.com/Generous-Orthodoxy-evangelical-conservative-contemplative/dp/0310258030

    1. Thank you Stephen. Oh wow that sounds like an incredibly moving experience. Yes! That’s one of the beautiful aspects about the catholic faith is that it has its roots all the way back to the Last Supper! Amen – much to learn! I will definitely check it out! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you for sharing that article. i look forward to reading it. Hugs and love xox

  39. I was raised in the Catholic Church but, now attend a new age, nondenominational church. One main problem is the actual beliefs of the two. The Big Difference; not necessarily the rigidity of the service.

    1. Hi friend! Thanks for sharing that. Yeah – that’s definitely the biggest difference – the dogma. Which is precisely why I attend the Catholic Church 🙂 but I loved my experience yesterday. It brought me back to my days of going to nondenominational Christian summer camp. That was probably the most formative period for my faith life. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  40. Caralyn you did it again. I swear to you with each post it’s like I’m truly peering inside your heart and it’s a beautiful place. If I get nothing else from this whole “blog thing” I’m trying my hand at I’ll say this. I have truly enjoyed every letter I have read of your blog. It is good to know there are still some genuinely good Christian women out there who aren’t afraid to pour out their soul to people. Most being strangers. I applaud you ma’am and if I am ever out NY way, I simply MUST have a coffee with you. I can imagine the stories you have to tell. Sorry for the long comment but you truly are a special soul! Be blessed girl!

    1. Thank you Paul. Oh my gosh you’re too kind. I really appreciate you saying that. Thank you for reading!! Haha yes! Coffee for sure! Hugs and love xox

      1. Hugs and love right back to you girl. I’m not too kind I am just honest. I’ve never met you and I feel like I have known you for years. You truly have a gift sweetheart. You really do.

  41. Really nice article and your writing style was engaging enough to keep me reading till the very end, although I’m heading to the shower to get ready for bedtime.

    1. Thank you friend. Hah yeah sorry for the longer than usual post! Thanks for reading! Hugs and love xox

  42. What a blessing it is to read about a successful, twenty-something woman who spends a portion of her “down time” going to church and writing engaging blog posts about her experiences as well.

    Praise the Lord! ✝️ Keep on writing and loving Jesus, and trust that He will take care of the rest. 💛

    1. oh my gosh, thank you for saying that. gosh, I am touched! God is good! Hugs and love xox

  43. I was in Denver last weekend. Hm. Not my side of town though.

    I have been to both also and others. It’s hard to say. Pride might be helpful to determine a definite winner. If there even needs to be one.

      1. A book is not a movie. Similar functions and different measures. I see that when I see the commentary on what worship is in different sub cultures. The brain’s amygdala, controls our emotional response but it is interesting that without it we are fully engaged and empathetic. I believe we’ve kept it because it is fear of things that have kept us alive up to this moment. Our brain weighs three pounds and our amygdala is the size and weight of an almond. It’s actually the word almond in Greek. So. Sundays, become a way to bypass our fear responses and restore faith in humanity. I am bookish, so the performance based worship (big box, your word) leaves me, bored. Even, at times when I’ve sat in my friend’s Anglican churches on Sundays, it’s felt slow. Can song and dance overcome deeply set boundaries with integrity and respect in tact? I don’t think so but it is better than going to all out war or silent revolt through micro aggressive behaviors leading to our current day prejudices.

  44. Sounds like an amazing experience!! I’ve grown up with very traditional masses and churches (Irish family, and big-box churches aren’t very common in England), but I just searched some up and found one in London and from the sound of this I will definitely check it out!

    1. Thank you friend! Yeah, there is definitely beauty found in both! Hugs and love xox

  45. Great post, Caralyn. Building bridges between churches is enormously important, so that together we can bring even more of God’s love into the world.

  46. Wow, this has to be one of my favorite post of the year so far. I’ve always struggled with how there can be so many different types of churches and worship, how can we possible know what one is the ‘right’ one. But yeah, God is God and he isn’t stopped by a different type of building or worship. Thank you so much!

  47. Beautifully said and I agree Caralyn we all gain a lot from going on regular church excursions to break down the walls between denominations. It’s like visiting other people’s homes in other countries. It takes away stereotypes because we actually engage with the spirit of the house and share a meal. We get to know and observe the people who live there in their own context. I remember going on a work trip to Queensland once and walking the streets to find a church. The one I ended up in had 14 parishioners and 8 of them were one family. The music was a CD. The Pastor was not very eloquent, in fact he droned but the Holy Spirit spoke to me in that place. They were so thrilled I had come to deify them, and I was so thrilled that they could edify me. I realised there that church is Christs body and the different churches are different parts of that body (not just the individual people). One church is the mouth, another the feet and one is a freckle but all are part of the body of Christ and cannot do without the other. If the mouth does not stop talking to eat, or the feet don’t walk to stop hogging the light then the freckle may well turn cancerous and if the freckle turns cancerous the whole body may die. etc We are all responsible to love the whole body and look after each other. It is so important that we are unified to give strength to all of the body of Christ. Thanks for the discussion. L

    1. Thank you so much Lauren. I love this beautiful reflection! Yes! Let’s break down those walls! Wow that sounds like an incredible experience. The Holy Spirit will always break through 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  48. I love this post so much. I’m on the opposite spectrum where I was raised in a non-denominational “mega” church, and had a prejudice against traditional church services (not just Catholic churches either – the church I came from has an extreme superiority complex). A few years ago I visited a Presbyterian church and was initially put-off by their modernized Eucharist. I immediately recoiled in my mind thinking they couldn’t possibly be a “good” church if they’re reciting the Apostles Creed because that’s legalistic! But I enjoyed the people and the message so much that I went a few more times and even brought my parents to see what they thought. My dad pointed out that the traditions that made me uncomfortable are not wrong, they’re just different from what I was raised with and that as long as the pastor and the congregation have hearts on fire for Jesus, the rest is just cultural preference. So I joined that church and am still actively involved 2 years later.

    I agree that there needs to be less judgement between the churches – how can we show the love of Jesus to strangers if we can’t even show it to fellow Christians?

    1. Aw, thank you so much! I’m so glad you had that experience! You’re right – less judgement and more unity! Hugs and love xox

  49. I love spirit-filled non-denom churches. We live too far out of the city, though 🙁 Here in MN there’s a lot of lutheran churches. I just can’t bring myself to go. If the Spirit isn’t there, not much point in going, IMO.

    1. Thank you for sharing that, Sierra! Yeah, location can definitely be tough to overcome. Have you checked out podcasts!? Nearly every church – and many Catholic churches – Father Mike Schmitz is AMAZING – have really powerful material that they release weekly! Hugs and love xox

  50. This reminds me of the Catholic-flavored “big box” experience I had as a teen. I went to one of the youth conferences in Steubenville, Ohio, and let me tell you – the ENERGY of 1500 other people at Mass who all want to be there, too … it’s just indescribably awesome.

    You have not lived until you are clapping to “Let the Fire Fall” as an entrance song to Mass under a tent!

    It’s frustrating to me how much that worship style gets poo-poo’d by probably 99.9% of Catholics I know. Why be so picky about how people encounter God? I can’t imagine God Himself is all that picky.

    Anyway – glad you got to experience this!

    1. Thank you Athena! OH MY GOSH I LOVE STEUBENVILLE!!!!!! I have been to several of their conferences. I wish there was more of that! I completely agree. I think we can keep the reverence and sanctity of the Mass while peppering in some more modern music, and worship-type experiences. Loved this comment. Yay Steubey! Hugs and love xox

  51. Yes…the Spirit is definitely alive and well. I have found amazing experiences of the Spirit in many different religions…which is quite beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  52. Another great post! I admire your ability to open yourself to new experiences. Perhaps that is one of your blooms as a result of the pruning moments you mentioned. 🙂

    One of my favorite quotes from the Mormon prophet and leader, Brigham Young:

    “It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion.”

    Hey, and if you have a chance and are up to it, visit and LDS church sometime :). God bless!

    1. Thank you so much Eugene! awww you’re kind to say that. thanks for sharing! Hugs and love xox

  53. I appreciate this post so much! Half of my family is Catholic – including a nun, the other half Protestant and all of us land all over the spectrum on liturgy and actual faith. Personally I’m somewhere in the middle between Catholic and “Big Box” liturgy, and I’ve heard most of those snarky remarks too! Big Box churches aren’t all the same, some do inspire said remarks! However, in my opinion, you came to the right conclusion, that its not about walls, or liturgy, or musical stylings, its about Jesus, knowing him and sharing him with others.

  54. Well, you’re in my neighborhood, it seems (Sort of. I work in Aurora, but commute from Colorado Springs). We used to live in Lakewood, though. If you’re up for amazing European Bakery goodness, check out Taste of Denmark on the corner of Jewell and Kipling (1901 S. Kipling St Lakewood CO 80227).

    When the “inter-service rivalry” between church factions isn’t about matters of doctrine, then the arguing is pointless and petty. The infighting among differing factions IN THE SAME CHURCH was enough for me to pull the plug on my last serious effort at being part of a church community.

    1. Oh awesome! I’ve been to Denmark and their food was amazing 🙂 Aw, I’m sorry to hear that Matt. Yeah church politics are ugly and can be incredibly disheartening. Hugs and love xox

  55. Yay for you! Being protestant I was brought up that Catholics were just wafer-stuck. When I moved years ago to a small community that was basically 90% Catholic I was lost without my own church. I did find a small protestant church but also joined a small prayer group of Catholics that met each week for sharing of songs and prayer. There was no priest involved but there were brothers from the local Catholic seminary. Being surrounded by Catholics I soon made many friends. One friend and I made an agreement. I would visit her church and then she would visit mine not to try to convert one another but to understand each other’s faith. In doing that, we both remained firmly Catholic and protestant, but we gained a real appreciation for the other’s faith and came to realize that God is God. We may give ourselves labels, but to Him if we trust in Jesus as our savior, we are all His children. I think if we look at what we agree on, it is more than what we disagree on. Satan loves to keep us divided – but God died for us all. I’m thankful you met God in both places.

    1. Thank you so much Barbara! Yeah, sadly, that is a stereotype that is far too easily stuck on Catholics. What a beautiful thing you and your friend did! yes! God is God! And i think you’re so right – the divide is a foothold that Satan uses for sure. Hugs and love xox

  56. I echo others – I think this post is one of my absolute favorites so far this year. What an incredible experience you must have had!

    Being raised United Methodist, I grew up with both the praise and worship aspect, as well as the traditional aspect with the hymns, organ music, etc. I’m on the media team at the church where I was raised since the age of 4 (different name, same building), and I run the computer and projectors for both services once a month, and occasionally sub when needed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I’m drawn closer and enjoy the praise and worship service much more than the traditional service. Partially because I grew up in the late 1990s and through the 2000s, when a lot of the modern worship singers and bands were very popular. I love MercyMe, Steven Curtis Chapman, and a handful of others. Our youth retreats always had loud, rock-like bands that set us on fire during the mountaintop experiences. However, I also see the appeal of being traditional and holding on to certain traditions, sacraments, and routines. I have several favorite hymns that spark memories of family, friends, and other church experiences. I deeply appreciate Communion. I went through Confirmation in 2001. I’ve done it all.

    I’m thankful that several friends and family friends are of different denominations and religions – Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Baptist, Jewish, and non-denominational. I’ve been fortunate to have attend multiple worship services in a variety of places and states throughout my life. I’ve gained knowledge from every single one. My heart will always follow Methodism, but I consider myself an open person, willing to worship anywhere with anyone.

    Thank you for another thought-provoking post!

    1. “I’m divine in, I’m goin deep, in over my head, i wanna be, caught in the rush” — sorry – just reminiscing my love for SCC! Gosh, I think I literally wore that CD out growing up! hahaha That’s so awesome, Laura Beth. I love your perspective on things. You’re so right – we have so me we can learn from every single one! Hugs and love xox

      1. haha i can still remember jumping up and down to it in the rec room at camp 🙂 ahh memories

  57. I left the Lutheran church when Pastor Kevin left (you just read my blog about the baptism). I ended up at a big box church. Well it wasn’t then only 50 people now greater than 3000 getting ready to open a second campus. Our Pastor always says go where you feel the most connected and get the most out of it. He never says negative things about any other church because if it is meeting the needs of the people and bringing them to Jesus than it is doing its job! I’m really glad you enjoyed both services! It’s all about connection.

  58. When I began exploring churches, the Catholic Church (my childhood home) was the last place I went to. What shook me when I entered the congregation was the powerful heart connection.

    Big Box churches create a powerful emotional experience for their community, but the point is not whether you remember the words to the music or the sermon. It’s whether you hear the Holy Spirit speaking into your heart. Big Box experiences tend to blow that door open. Catholic Church tends to invite you out into the meadow.

    But for several reasons, I’d encourage you to alternate weekends at church. First, Big Box churches are a great way for a young person to meet other young people – including potential spouses. Secondly, I’d be interested in your conclusions as a religious anthropologist. The priesthood doesn’t have a financial stake in their community – pastors at Big Box churches do, and I’ve discovered that it colors their teaching.

    “No man can serve two masters…You cannot love both God and money.”

    1. Thanks Brian. 🙂 What an interesting perspective. Yeah, I definitely won’t be deviating from my Catholicism. I have never missed a Sunday Mass in my entire life on this earth, and I don’t plan on now haha, but I may pepper in a big box service every once in a while in *addition* to my weekend mass 🙂 hehe Yeah, the priesthood is one of the other truly awe-inspiring and beautiful aspects of the Catholic faith. These men give up everything to serve God. Same with those in religious orders. They willing choose a life of celibacy and give up their right to marry and have children and a family, all so that they can serve God and His Church. It brings me almost to tears to think about. I have had the blessing of have such amazing priests in my life. Sure, there are the handful of “fallen priests” that have done truly horrible things that the media and society and other churches like to spotlight, and let it color their entire view on Catholicism and the priesthood, but the fact is, ALL churches have some corruption in leadership. Why? Because this is not Heaven and we are a fallen people. And none of us are God. We are man. With original sin. And the lineage of the Papacy traces all the way back to Peter. And the institution of the Eucharist all the way back to the Last Supper. I mean, I could go on and on about my love for the Catholic church and its beauty 🙂 hehe but that’s all for now 🙂 hehe Thanks for stopping by, Brian! Hugs and love xox

      1. My aunt, who is a nun, makes the point that the temptation for the priest is the power and authority of the institution.

        But the funniest joke I ever heard was told by a priest at an all-faith gathering. He had been given word that a rabbi had criticized the priesthood with a joke about ham and celibacy. His punch line: “I have 200 wives – and they all finish my sentences for me.”

  59. I don’t remember how much of this you know; I’ve probably mentioned it on my blog, but I don’t expect you to have read every post.

    I grew up Catholic. I didn’t have the appreciation for everything behind the traditions that you do, though… that wasn’t communicated to me very well, ever, and my mom’s church seems more like the type where people identify as Catholic because they are Mexican or Italian or Filipino rather than because they love Jesus. I got involved in a nondenominational Christian student group in college, and eventually stopped going to Mass and started going to the church that many of my friends from that group went to (this was the old church that I went back to once last month because they had a reception for the youth pastor who was leaving, I mentioned that on my blog).

    As an adult I’ve had mixed experiences with the stereotypical big box churches. I’ve had mixed experiences just about everywhere, for a variety of reasons, and I’m still not sure I’ve found a permanent solution. I guess I just need to focus on what God is saying to me at the moment. I thought I had something important to say, but now I feel like I’m just rambling… I’m glad you had a great experience this weekend. Take care.

    1. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, i think, especially in college, friends can have a lot of influence. I will definitely keep you in my prayers. Just a thought, take it or leave it – a lot of times, coming back to something from childhood as an adult brings with it a new perspective and appreciation 🙂 hugs to you xo

  60. So glad you just wrote an informative rather than persuasive post this time. I think you’ve just stumbled upon something. You may be so near the root of what religion really is…just hiding under a rock around the corner, I’m sure.

  61. Thank you for being open about your Sunday morning experience, alnog with the adventure and the courage it took to lay down any bias at the door. Please, do this again elsewhere. Each assembly will be different in their style and ministry. So glad you did this. God’s grip, Beauty.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! That’s a great point – everywhere! Hugs and love xox

  62. Glad you were able to appreciate Denver! I find it funny I haven’t been to many churches outside Colorado but our religious leaders here seem to love gardening analogies!

    1. haha yes! must be a location! I can promise you that you won’t find a preacher in NYC discussing gardening! hahaha Not in the concrete jungle! the subway — most definitely. outdoorsy stuff, not so much! haha

    1. Awww thank you so much Cindy! So glad you enjoyed the post! Hugs and love xox

  63. I’ve been to both…grew up Catholic, then attended a large nondenominational church after age 20. Although I don’t care to go back to the Catholic Church much, it did have a sense of reverence that the larger more lively church was missing. We now attend a church that’s somewhere in the middle of the two. You do have a good point: both ends of the spectrum have their opinions on the other. But God made us all unique, so naturally that means we won’t all prefer the same style of worship and church atmosphere. Just as long as the message stays true to the Gospel. 😊

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience Ellen. Yes, true to the Gospel! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  64. This reflects much on my discovery of your blog, actually. And following along opened my eyes both to my own attitudes, and to a glimpse through your eyes of beauty in a tradition not personally owned or understood by me.

    And I’m right there with you; I don’t really sit in either seat, either fundamentalist (on either side of the fence) or in the ‘beiber-hair’ crowd. There is something to be said of people who know how to lead a great pep rally for Jesus and who can energize an immense crowd–I would honestly love to have that kind of energy–but that kind of thing has personally failed me more times than not. But more importantly Jesus has been teaching me to find him in the low levels of excitement, in the mundane, in the quiet. In not only my free time but the time I am busy at work or with other people.

    And it’s there that I see the Bride emerging a close-knit family actually doing life together almost moment to moment with one vision, one heart. That could happen anywhere, but I believe the trends away from both circles is the grass roots of that coming together that we are so eager for (:

    1. Thank you so much Carson, I appreciate your thoughts on this. Wow, that is so awesome that you’re feeling His teaching! Hugs and love xox

  65. Great post. I’ve always believed that any delivery of the message that brings you closer to God is worthwhile. Our relationship with Him is so personal that you have to follow what resonates. He can be experienced through the tradition and ritual of mass as well as more “modern” worship styles. I think it’s great!

    1. Thank you Paul:) I think you’re right – worship comes in all shapes and sizes! Hugs and love xox

  66. Amongst other things in my life, you have been inspiring me lately to keep writing. I just wanted to say thank you and I look forward to your next blog!! God bless you BBB. Cheers, Mike x

  67. Great word (as usual). You have hit on something so essential… Christians are often way too busy “putting down” other churches and we miss the whole point of the fact that we are ALL Family. There is beauty and grace in every “style” of church because God is immense in beauty and grace — we just have to be willing to see it! We are so ingrained to “compare and contrast” that we can often miss God in the process. Thanks for sharing your experience and reminding us of the fact that the Label above the door doesn’t matter as long as God is truly worshiped and adored inside. M. A.

    1. Thank you MA. As long as He is worshiped and adored. What a beautiful thought! Amen! ALL family! Hugs and love xox

  68. Sometimes we tend to forget Jesus said He would be wherever there were two or three gathered in His name. He didn’t specify where, what they were wearing, or how they were worshipping in exact detail. He just said they should be there gathered in His name. I think it’s part of human imperfection to pre-judge, but it’s so refreshing to open one’s heart and see that ‘they’ are our brothers and sisters, too!

    All the best!

    1. Thank you so much Miss Jay! I know! So true. That’s honestly one of the most comforting verses in the Bible 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  69. Great post!
    This is why I try to be part of the Church – not just one congregation, but there where God is working through His Spirit, no matter the denomination.
    Though, I have to admit, I haven’t actually attended a Catholic mass… 😉

    1. Thank you friend! Oh I hope you can attend a Mass! It is truly a beautiful and reverent experience. I’m actually on my way to daily Mass right now! It just fills you up in ways you can’t explain 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  70. My dad’s side is catholic but when my parents got divorced I was raised mostly by my mom whose parents were southern baptist. We eventually found a non-denominational church where I put my roots. After years of youth ministry and now teaching the Bible at a private school to almost 200 different denominations I have changed a lot. You are right, there is a stigma both ways. The majority of my students misunderstand Catholicism and I get the chance to give them the history of the Church as a whole. We have Jesus in common always. Blessings to you as you love others and help them heal.

  71. “Because at the end of the day, we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we’ve all got the same goal and the same God.” Nice touch, Caralyn, says this practicing Catholic. Ted

    1. Thanks Ted 🙂 yay! Went to Daily Mass yesterday and was reminded again of the beauty of Catholicism and how incredibly lucky we are to share in His body and blood every day 💛 Consummation of the covenant baby! 🙌🏼 Hugs and love xox

  72. Great thoughts, Caralyn. I think the same from my perspective. Which was why I really valued our time in an Anglican church plant which in the end didn’t make it. We started taking our grandkids to an evangelical mega church and now our daughter is taking them, and we found much the same thing there: quite solid, great ministry to children and in the teaching/application of the word and in music for worship. Not as flashy I suppose, but just as well done. I agree so much that the traditions of Christianity can learn much from each other. We are one in Christ. Thanks for sharing.

  73. I like your open mindedness, and flexibility to explore different denominations, and communication of the gospel, and the love and mercy of God, in Jesus. In my reading I just look for writers who love and trust Jesus above all else, and seem merciful to others, whether Protestant or Catholic. You seem to be a peace maker, thanks.

  74. Great post Carolyn.
    I had a somewhat similar experience when I lived in Lynchburg, Virginia and I had opportunities to attended a few Baptist services (working at a funeral home in a predominately Baptist town all but guaranteed that) and a few traditional Presbyterian services with a good friend of mine. I also became good friends with a Greek Orthodox priest.
    As a cradle Catholic, I had very little experience with other denominations so I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into in regards to these other Christian traditions and services. And while I never had as intense an experience as you describe, I did learn that all these people are, in a sense, like me and trying to stumble over the finish line as best they can. As such, it’s not my job to criticize them per se but to talk to them and dialogue with them, like I did with my good friend whom I mentioned above.
    Also, last year, I was able to read Peter Kreeft’s book, CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER. I can’t do the book justice in a short comment but one thing Kreeft said at the beginning has stuck with me. He said that Protestants, in many cases, have the fire (Jesus) but don’t have the fireplace (the structure, traditions, sacraments etc.); Catholics have the fireplace but not the fire in many cases. As such, we need each other to ultimately reunify the family, as it were.
    Have you read the book? Highly recommend it.

    1. You’re the second person to recco that book! Thank you! Peter is a household name in our family 🙂 I’ll definitely have to read it! Hugs and love xox

  75. Dear Beauty: Your experience has revealed to yourself the truth God is not a religion, God Is. Man has religion and often forgets we are All Children of the Divine.
    I hope you continue to grow in understanding, as your sharing is a tool to help people see we are a Human Family with Divine origins.
    Peace be with you

  76. Awesome. It was funny to read what the Catholics think about us. I laughed as the descriptions do match the “look”. I’m happy that you spoke about the spiritual encounter you had. What I loved most about your post was that it helped me to understand more about the Catholic church, because I too have been viewing them from stereotypical view point. Thanks for the reminder that we are all one body.

  77. Oh my gosh, yes!!!!! My late husband was Catholic. I went through RCIS so that I could go to Mass with him and understand Catholicism and why we were saying what we were saying. Since his passing, I have gone back to my non-denominational church, but I definitely still appreciate Catholicism and I do believe God is working there. I do miss the reverence for the Lord, the traditions, and the community…and I do occasionally drop in to a Catholic church to sit in a pew and pray and ponder. Thank you for this 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. I’m glad you have found a home at that church 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      1. Thanks, he passed suddenly nearly two years ago so it’s not fresh 🙂 I am so very thankful for my church family and I don’t believe I would be in such a good position spiritually if I didn’t go to church 🙂 xo xo xo

      2. Oh yes – the church family is such a beautiful glimpse of heaven 🙂

  78. So first, welcome to Denver! I’m so glad you’re loving my home. It is an amazing place and clearly you felt the whole of God surround you both in church and outside of it. I love reminders like this which show us how much denominations don’t matter – God matters and He shows up every single time….often despite our efforts.

    1. Thank you so much! Lucky you to get to live in such a beautiful place! Amen! Hugs and love xox

  79. The eyes are so easily deceived and led astray. We dont walk by seeing, we walk by Faith and believing.

    I love visiting different Churches and learning from the individuals there. I dont see religion. I see people. I feel them. And I feel Gods spirit. Whether they are full of s#!% or whether they are geuine. Thats what is important. Not denomination. Not skin color. Not size of building. I can say from experience, it is not always so easy to discern between truth and lie. Many times because we lack knowledge, understanding, and discernment we mistakingly think it is the Holy Spirit when its not. It is easy to get emotional and therefore conclude the church is okay…but thats misleading. We, the members are the Church. It cannot exist without us. But yet we are full of failures, sins, etc. So it is no surprise people are always let down one way or another.

    Thank God , He doesnt let us down and He always comes through. I think the major growth ive seen wasnt in Church…it was wherever i may find myself alone reading Gods Word, guided by the Holy Spirit, and when speaking to someone else about God. And lastly, when ive disobeyed God and continued sinning..in the midst of evil He shows up to save, to punish, and to turn his children around. Amen

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this. Amen! He always comes through!! Hugs and love xox

  80. A fascinating article BBB! I have had similar experiences, though not in the Catholic Church itself as I am a retired Baptist pastor. However, I had have two experiences in different church cultures that were extraordinary. One was when I was invited to preach at a traditional Black Baptist Church. It was a truly awesome experience! That church could not have been more accommodating to me as a guest speaker. The music was literally moving as everyone on the platform and in the pews were swaying with the choir as they danced into the sanctuary. I asked a common question,’How long should I preach?’ The answer was, “As long as you feel God moving!” Believe me, that was truly liberating. I preached for almost a solid hour, and the congregation was into it, hollering back “Amen!” regularly. The other was as a visitor in the pews at a Messianic Jewish congregation. It was the most participatory service I have ever been to. Everyone, adults and children in the pews included, had some part in the service from prayer to singing as well as all new visitors being prayed over under the cover of a “prayer shawl,” which was very moving. I recommend both of those experiences to you as well. Blessings as always,

    D.T. Osborn

    1. Thanks DT! Wow that’s awesome. He is alive! All churches, all gatherings, the Spirit moves! Hugs and love xox

  81. I LOVED your post! You’re so amazing! How inspiring to go travel and attend different churches. I like the way you honor both “religions”. We all worship the same God. Jesus is our savior and He doesn’t care for titles, but He wants us to be united. Keep sharing your wisdom! 💜🙏

  82. I think I’m a bit old for all that rock music (or maybe it was being brought up strict Presbyterian and needing to know what’s coming next). However, I get what you’re saying. God isn’t limited by our comfort zone. I had a reminder of this recently when I went into an Episcopalian church to pray (https://scotinprogress.com/2018/06/17/ecumenical/) and came to the conclusion that we need to build bridges not dig deeper ditches.

    1. I love that – God isn’t limited by our comfort zones. Amen to that. Hugs and love xox

  83. Thank you for this amazing post! It’s so moving and so true that we tend to villify fellow Christians. I am one of those who attended a big church with loud music and I love what I get from that. Your post about your Catholic experience helped me see that different.

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much for your kind words! Yes! There is so much beauty to be found in the Catholic Church too! 🙂 glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

      1. Wow – thank you for saying that. I can’t begin to express how much that means to me. I’m so glad they hit home with you!! Hugs and love xox

  84. yes yes Amen Amen. The BRIDE IS BEAUTIFUL and your wrote of HER so well!!! Just experienced the Eucharist becoming Catholic on Pentacost. .. . I too have found from raising hands to kneeling knees He is BEAUTIFUL!!

    1. Oh my gosh congratulations!! That is so amazing. I am so happy for you and will keep you in my prayers. Amen!! Hugs and love xox

  85. Personally, I don’t think you can get to know a church at the first meeting you go to. I think you have to go several times to know what the theology is & to guess what is really going on. There are a lot of hip new preacher’s that preach the prosperity “gospel” and people there are happy because if you hear that God’s going to bless you all the time…..I would be happy too, they change all the meaning of bible to warp in their idea’s truly saddening to see. A lot of churches these days are straying away from the truth and becoming more conformed to the world rather than the bible which is also sad. I know you are Catholic but I would have to disagree on the practices & theology behind Catholicism. At the end of the day, I think you have to be discerning & vigilant and find a church that has Godly council, theology, people.

    1. That’s a really great point. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Hugs and love xox

  86. It seems that churches in Your country differ from those in my country. Many of our churches are wooden churches. Their Bell towers are separated from churches. Outside, in many cases, there is a wooden poor-man statue, inside a Votive ship and walls are full of paintings.

    Church of Haukipudas

    Happy weekend!

  87. Growing up Catholic and now being part of an Evangelical church, I sometimes miss the sacredness of the liturgy. But I have learned to appreciate that each form of worship has its place in ministering to people. In the same way I have learned to appreciate that people have different callings. God is immensely creative in how he choses to reach people.

    1. Thank you for sharing that. Lots of great food for thought here. Yeah the litergy and the Eucharist keep me Catholic! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  88. It really depends on what brings you closer to God and His Son Jesus Christ. I have been to the big churches i.e Planet Shakers, Baptist & Enjoy churches and how wonderful are their homilies and singing???? But I always go back to my roots, when it comes to the time of consecration and the real presence, in the other churches I always feel as if I have been cheated out of the best part of Jesus_His real presence as spiritual food.

  89. Truth be told, we “non-denominational hipsters” (LOL) make snarky comments about the trudged traditional ritualism marking many of our brethren of the Catholic persuasion (smile). I guess the important thing is that wherever we worship we get to experience and know God more fully. Love this post.

    1. Thanks friend. Yeah, I think it definitely goes both ways. Amen – same God, same Christian family!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  90. Thank you so much for writing such a thought provoking post that appeases to folks on all ends of the spectrum. It served as a reminder that we must embrace the fact that despite our differences, we are all one people, seeking the same thing. Why let those differences define us? Rather, why are we not celebrating what we do have in common? I am a lifelong Catholic and am deeply rooted in my faith. Like you, I find a lot of comfort in the sacraments, namely our Communion. I also find it so rewarding to know that no matter where I go in the world, or no matter what language is being spoken, I will not only understand what is going on but will be able to share in a ceremony that is universal. On the other hand, as a millennial myself, there have been parishes that I have attended and experiences that I have had where the services seemed impersonal and like we were just “going through the motions.” I, too, have gone to quite a few churches from other denominations, and have found those to be extremely enriching experiences. In the end, I still deeply appreciate my Catholicism, but have the utmost respect for people of other faiths and the way that they worship. As long as we all feel a deep connection with the Lord and act in a way that He would be proud of, we should keep our hearts and our minds open. Ultimately it’s our relationships with God that counts—not the places we go to pray. Thank you again for touching on this important issue. As many wise people before us have said, there is “one truth, many paths.”

    1. Thank you Christina. So true. I’m with you – the Eucharist is why I’m Catholic too! Amen – let’s celebrate what we have in common! Hugs and love xox

  91. My mother grew up Anglican and when she met and married my dad she joined him at the pentecostal church where I grew up ( and still worship!) Like you said there is beauty in each form of worship and I think we as members of the body of Christ need realize that no “style” is better than the other! Lets make Jesus famous again no matter the denomination! Thanks for this post !!

  92. Amen, sister! The thing I see is that “all things work for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) This division of Catholic and Protestant has been difficult and painful at times, but I am starting to see gifts that are coming from it. We have many converts in our parish, and they have brought a burning desire for Bible study, which has kindled a love of Scripture for many more in the parish.

    How amazing would it be to combine the beauty, reverence, and Eucharist in the Catholic Church with the joy, community, energy, and message delivery that you saw? That would be pretty powerful indeed.

    1. Thank you so much Karen May! I so agree! It would be so amazing. There a beautiful aspects in every church for sure! Hugs and love xox

  93. Thanks for your post. I really enjoyed it. I lived in Italy for a couple of years as a missionary for my church and love all things Italian and (almost) all things Catholic as well. I too have felt the spirit while attending other religion’s meetings–both Catholic masses and other non-denominational services–and I agree with you whole-heartedly that we can and should judge less, learn more from each other, and tear down the walls that divide us. More bridges would do all of us well.

    I appreciate your sharing such a personal experience and appreciated your insights and perspective very much.

    If you’d like to visit my own blog again and Like, Share, Comment or Follow it, I’d always welcome your contribution. You can find it at https://thedailymormon.wordpress.com.

    Thank you again and warmest regards,

    Patrick Laing

    1. Thanks so much Patrick! Wow that sounds like an amazing experience overseas! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh gosh thank you for sharing! i really appreciate that. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Kristi! Amen to that! So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Mickey 🙂 I think you’re absolutely right! Hugs and love xox

  94. Thank you for your thoughts on big box churches. I never knew Catholics thought about them that way. My family and I were part of one for 8 years and it was a beautiful thing for a time. We were in leadership there and became uncomfortable with the branding and business-like way of running it. It became more like a corporation than a community, the teaching more motivational than Biblical and the emphasis was on church branding and excellent entertainment, instead of Jesus. But you’re right, all of them aren’t that way. Thanks for the reminder to listen and build bridges!

    My son lives in Boulder. I’m going to let him know about Red Rocks.

    1. Thank you so much Marie! Oh YES! do pass it along to your son! And thanks for this insight – you’re right- let’s build bridges! Hugs and love xox

  95. Good for you! I grew up Catholic as well, and have that snarkiness. It’s a lovely thing to watch it dissolve in front of the presence of the living Christ. Or to find Him in the Eucharist. Either is a golden path, and they both lead home.

  96. Nice compare/contrast. I often wonder what the worship concert type Christians would do if they actually understood that the same Jesus they are so energized about is here, waiting for them in the tabernacle and adoration chapel.

  97. I’m a little late on this post since I just started my blog on 8-10-18, but that’s cool you were here in Denver! If you are ever in town again, my wife and I would love to have you over for dinner! The kids would have so much fun meeting you! You know me, we are 100% Gluten free, Organic, and NON-GMO! Great post about the church! There are a lot of on fire churches here! You would love our church too! God bless you!

  98. We humans tend to complicate spiritual matters. I appreciate your open and honest heart. Here is a simple principle of faith in Jesus found in Acts 8:35-37 NKJV
    [35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. [36] Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” [37] Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

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