Evangelicals Dropping Out

by Steve Ray on February 13, 2011

A friend named Lenny wrote:

I find this article interesting because what has filled many Evangelical Churches are people  who were previously Catholic.   And when I have run into these people they would tell me  they “used to be Catholic” and would want to tell me their story.

The number of people attending church services have been down in the Catholic Church and especially in the main line denominational Protestant Churches.   And this took place at a time when Evangelical Churches were growing.

Now it appears that numbers of people attending Evangelical Churches are going down at the rate of one  million a year.  I have also talked to people who said they “used to be Evangelicals” and now it appears there will be more ex-Evangelicals in the world.

http://www.washtimes.com/news/2008/sep/21/americans-leaving-churches-in-droves/

Many of these Evangelical drop outs are coming back to the Catholic Church! I spoke with many of them last weekend at my conference!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Brennan September 21, 2008 at 2:42 PM

My family left the Church about 14 years ago for an Evangelical mega-church. The place went from a “we don’t need facilities, I can preach in the parking lot if need be.” to a new facility that must have a 125,000 square foot facility with a huge mortgage.

Now they have trouble because people are jumping ship due to the current theology and money raising to feed the building. It’s phenominal, and actually a little sad, to watch this implosion.

I never had an instant’s desire to leave the Church but i did and do adire the zeal of these folks.

Charlotte September 22, 2008 at 5:06 PM

I know this reporter wasn’t necessarily talking about those huge mega evangelical chhurches, but I know there are lots of people growing disenchanted with them too. It boils down to commercialism at those churches….coffee shops and bookstores inside. Rick Warren programs. Theatre and dancing on the “altar.” Pre-packaged formula vacation Bible school themes, tie-ins with commerical products sold at the Family Christian Bookstore. All of this makes going to church indistinguishable from watching TV or shopping at the mall. I know that there are Catholic bookstores and Catholic products to be bought, but not on the scale that exists within mainstream American Protestant Evangelicalism. I want a HOLY experience, not another opportunity to go shopping or “feel” that I’m part of a bigger something. This feeling of the Holy may be why some are coming back to the Church.

Steve Ray September 23, 2008 at 7:18 PM

From Lenny Alt:
Liz,

You e-mailed me this question; “Are these people returning to the Catholic Church?” And the answer is, many of them are. Scott Butler is one of them. He left the Catholic Church for what he thought was Biblical Christianity. After becoming an Evangelical minister he went to work for a man named Bart Breuer. Breuer was originally a Catholic priest who later joined the 7th Day Adventist Church and finally went the Baptist direction. He developed an extreme antagonism for the Catholic Church. He would put anti-Catholic flyers in Catholic Churches and engage people coming out of Mass. When he would speak before Baptist assemblies he would tell stories in such a way so as to make Catholic priests look like buffoons (to the laughter and excitement of the crowds). Where did this bitterness come from? Apparently some Jesuit priests made fun of him in Rome. As Breuer angrily put it, “They laughed at me!”

His goal was to bring people out of the Catholic Churches especially Catholic priests. In one instance Bart sent out copies of Karl Keatings book on Catholicism and Fundamentalism (the attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”). Karl Keatings book debunks most of the anti-Catholic arguments, showing the Catholic Church to be the Biblical Church. Why would Bart send out a book that was pro-Catholic? He wanted to show his followers these Catholic responses, so they could refute the Catholics. Unfortunately for Bart, he was his own undoing. Several of the people who read Keatings book became Catholic.

Scott Butler went to work with Breuer and decided at some point to convert Fr. Mitch Pacwa (EWTN). Fr Pacwa turned the tables on Scott and he came back to the Catholic Church. Scott in turn helped over 400 Protestant ministers (most of them Evangelical) come into the Catholic Church. How can this be? The Evangelical ministers are supposedly the ones preaching Biblical Christianity. In most seminaries the Bible and the early Church Fathers are taught. Many Evangelical ministers believe the early Church Fathers are Evangelical. Scott, knowing the anti-Catholic arguments, was able to show how the Catholic Church is both Biblical and the Church of the early Church Fathers. When these ordained ministers realized this, they became Catholic.

Evangelicals will often point to the fact that their Church has a significant number of ex-Catholics in their congregations. At the same time they seem to have no realization of the people (many of them Evangelical ordained ministers) leaving for the Catholic Church.

I have a great deal of respect for some Evangelicals because of their strong zeal. In fact I respect them much more than I do luke-warm Christians. They may in some cases unwittingly quote the Bible out of context. But who has taken the time to point this out? As a result they may not be fully culpable.

God bless you,

Lenny

Bob December 7, 2008 at 2:10 PM

It is very ironic that the Evangelical churches gain former Catholics, usually not well catechised, from among plumbers, sales people, etc. We seem to get former Evangelical ministers who looked at the early Church with open eyes.

Quality over quantity?

John Danford February 6, 2009 at 8:42 AM

Greetings:
Many of these disenchanted Evangelicals are beating down the doors of our Holy Orthodox Churches as they leave the frustrations of Sola Scriptura churches and some 25,000+ disparate Protestant groups. When they discover the papal claims are faulty and don’t match up with Church structure and Church history, with the 7 Ecumenical Coucils etc and that Rome seceded from the original conciliar Church in 1054, arbitrarily changed the Nicece Creed by adding the filioque without the approval of an ecumenical council which was mandatory in order to change the creed etc etc they end up at our doors looking for that true new testament Church.
They find pure, unadulterated Christianity and sacramental reality in Christ’s Church which is The Holy Orthodox Church.
Christ promised to be with us always and that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Holy Orthodox Church which He and His Holy 12 apostles founded. He has honored His promise.
In ICXC
John Danford

STEVE RAY HERE: THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS. I HAVE GREAT LOVE FOR THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES — AS YOU RIGHTLY PUT THEM IN THE PLURAL. I ALMOST BECAME ORTHODOX MYSELF BEFORE RESEARCHING MORE. I GAVE MY REASONS FOR BECOMING CATHOLIC IN MY BOOK CROSSING THE TIBER. WELCOME JOHN.

Mimi March 21, 2009 at 6:17 PM

I believe there will be a lot more, as evangelical churches are splintering off into new “independent” churches. Every one claims to have the only “truth” and lashes out at the rest. Some modern ones are really far-out. One “preacher” claims “God” tells him to punch and kick sick people in healing services. Others have fake “miracles” of glitter, slight-of-hand schemes. I strongly disagree with the person above who criticizes those who return being not well cathechized. I also strongly disagree with the Orthodox person who is bashing our beautiful Church. Are we still fighting over the filial clause and the church calendar? And I thought my Mom could hold a grudge! Shame on you.

Our current group of catechumenates is bulging the walls of the church. There are hundreds of them. It’s amazing.

Mimi

Jim February 13, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Hello!

I came into the Catholic Church 5 years ago, from no religion. With all of the resources we have to learn about our faith, it is a shame to see people leave. I think that one things Catholic’s should know, is where the bible came into being! (The Catholic Church, of course!)

I urge those who are lacking in the knowledge and those who have drifted away to take a closer look at
what the Church really is about. We must delve into her teachings and history. The evidence is so obvious…

Thanks for all you do, Steve!

Joe February 13, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Protestants and Orthodox would do well to study the faith of the Eastern Catholic churches which are union with Rome. This shows that no matter where the seeds of the gospel were planted they always sprouted Catholic roots. Catholicbridge.com is another great Catholic website that has tons of resources for both Evangelicals and Eastern Orthodox.

Erika February 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I left a Fundamentalist Evangelical church for the Catholic Church two years ago. The Eucharist was what primarily drew me in the beginning, as well as my deeply curious interest and desire to get “back to the faith” of the Early Church Fathers. The instruction of Relevant Radio, Steve Ray, Scott Hahn, Fr. Corapi, Catholic Answers, etc., all helped seal the deal.

I for one am not surprised to see so many leaving Evangelicalism. Charlotte makes an excellent point on the commercialism/”Americanism” that has invaded and in so many ways actually BECOME “Christianity” in Evangelical circles. It was the beginning of the end for me when I started to notice the inherent irreverence of the casual Starbuck-sipping, donut-dunking in the pews and the feeling that I was attending a speech/event rather than authentically worshiping the God of the Universe. It took years for me to figure out where to go and sadly it was hampered by the anti-Catholic rhetoric I had imbibed in over the years, but God in his grace finally led me home.

The true tragedy of Evangelicalism IMO is that many leave and DON’T find their way home because they have been so turned off by the “God” and “Christianity” they think they knew all those years. They mistake the emptiness they found in their church to mean that Christianity itself is empty, and they reject their faith altogether. Most of my friends have left the church community of which I was a part, but almost none of them retained their faith. A small few found their way to other Protestant communities, but they seem to be just “going through the motions.” They act as if they have lost their love of Christ almost entirely. Others simply rejected the Christian faith wholesale.

We must pray hard for our separated brethren and do what we can to evangelize. I think there is a tendency especially nowadays to think that everything is roses as long as one has a valid baptism — being in visible communion with the Catholic Church is no longer the greatest good, just a good choice among many. The truth is that it is VERY difficult to maintain the faith without the fullness of the Church and Her Sacraments. There are many falsehoods in the Protestant Christian communities that harm people to a great degree, and this is of no small matter.

Christo et Ecclesiae,
Erika

Kevin o'Driscoll March 20, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Please tell how I should repond to RM Zins email or not at all thanks…Kevin
Here is his site http://cwrc-rz.org/

Hi Kevin,

Are we authorities on the RC religion? Yes, we are. If they are to be trusted in what they have clearly revealed as their bed-rock doctrines and dogmas. If we have misrepresented the RC religion we would like to know about it. We do not think we have.

The Body of Christ is already together. It is composed of those all over the world who believe and trust the Scriptures and the Gospel. The Roman Catholic religion has Her own dogma, doctrine, gospel and way of viewing eternal life and what must be done to gain heaven. But so do the Muslims and the Mormons. What’s new? We simply contrast the clear teaching of the Bible with the RC truth claims. The net result is exposing the RC religion as a false hope.

I am sure you would allow for the apostle Paul to deny Judaism as an enemy of the Gospel in his day. Or would you be saddened by his failure to bring together all those who believe in YHWH? You see, the Gospel is specific and those who believe it cannot be brought together with those who do not.

I have been to N. Ireland several times and as far as I can tell the issues there are much more political than religious. Even so, the RC religion is not and never will be considered Christianity. We prefer to expand our web site rather than take it down.

You probably do not realize how antithetic the doctrines of Rome are to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do.

Sincerely,

R. M. Zins for CWRC

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