Posted by Craig Borlase on 27 March 2015

Perhaps you, like me, grew up with a slightly suspicious view of Catholicism. On a French exchange visit to the crypt of a Parisian cathedral, I took extra care not to direct my prayers in Mary’s direction, fearing that if I did Jesus would be severely annoyed with me.

These were the 80s it was, a time when Evangelicalism was feeling pretty good about itself. We had the best preachers, the biggest stadium crusades and the best sounding worship. Or so I thought.

Fast forward a few decades and the world has changed. The gap between Catholics and Evangelicals has narrowed, introducing the likes of Matt Maher, Pope Francis and Henry Nouwen as significant influences on how we do things. Difference still exists, but much of a that suspicion has gone.

And there are still things we can learn...

Like the power of traditional liturgical worship. Evangelicals are no stranger to liturgy, though our service structure, prayers and songs might be a little more modern. But perhaps it is the traditional forms that have something to teach us.

According to Joseph Pavicic writing here http://www.hprweb.com/2013/02/what-evangelicals-can-learn-from-catholics/, traditional liturgical worship aligns a church more closely with the early church that thrived so well during the first few decades of Christianity. Once Rome declared for Christianity in 380AD, things changed.

‘A final reason for embracing a liturgical worship,’ explains JP, ’is that it provides a counterbalance to modern culture. In his book, Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy, Anglican Mark Galli writes:

Liturgy helps us enter a counter-intuitive story. In an individualistic culture, the liturgy helps us live a communal life. In a culture that values spontaneity, the liturgy grounds us in something enduring. In a world that assumes truth is a product of the mind, the liturgy helps us experience truth in both mind and body. In a world demanding instant relevance, the liturgy gives us the patience to live into a relevance that the world does not know.’

Perhaps the best input on a topic like this comes from Pope Francis himself. Speaking at the World Evangelical Alliance in late 2014, he said:

“If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another.

“From the beginning there have been divisions among Christians, and sadly, even today, conflicts and rivalries exist between our communities.”

However, he said he was hopeful “that the Holy Spirit, who inspires the Church to persevere in seeking new methods of evangelization, will usher in a new era of relations between Catholics and Evangelicals, so that the Lord’s will that the Gospel be brought to the ends of the earth may be more fully realized.”

So perhaps the question at the top of this is redundant. It is not ‘what’ can we learn, but ‘how’? And the answer to that is clear; through the Holy Spirit. That same spirit that draws people to God, that exhales unity and builds a stronger church. With the Holy Spirit as our guide, surely there are whole mountain's worth of good things for us to learn from each other.

More like this

Song Devotional - Come To Save Us

The single most significant point that there has ever been in human history didn’t start out all that impressive. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus began with a birth that confounded expectations and rewrote the rules. And yet, there was majesty in the manger. But why did it have to be that way? Join this little wander through the Bible's back streets, as worship gets truly festive.

My Top 5 Leadership Books with Ian Matthews

Ian Matthews heads up David C Cook books in the UK, working with British authors such as Mike Pilavachi, Roy Godwin and Matt Redman. Prior to that he ran the UK division Zondervan, and has worked with publishers across the world. Here he gives us his Top 5 books on leadership. Worship Leaders like you, can focus on the 'worship' resources, but what about your skills of leadership.....sometimes, this is the one thing you need to give more time to.

Kingdom Renaissance

The Story Behind The Story: Colin Edge, worship leader at the McKinney campus of Covenant Church, Texas, explains how God took over with their latest album, "Kingdom".