5 Things I Love About Working with Protestants

Nicky Gumbel meeting Pope Francis in 2014

5 Things I Love About Working with Protestants


I feel particularly fortunate and blessed to be doing the work that I do. I am the Catholic coordinator of Alpha for Canada. I work to provide a means of evangelization for any Catholic parish or group that wants to be the kind of evangelizing community that Pope Francis is calling us to be. (see Evangelii Gaudium, 24

It is amazing to be so in touch with Catholics across the country with a heart for mission, for sharing the Gospel and bringing people to Jesus.

Another unique feature of my job is that I work on a team that is largely made up of Protestants.

Now I worked within the Catholic Church for 7 years before coming to Alpha, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in joining a team where I was (at the time) the only Catholic. Now coming up on my one year anniversary of employment I can say, it has been a truly wonderful experience.

Here is a list of 5 things I love about working with Evangelical Protestants.

1) They love to pray

This was apparent from our first staff conference call. After a time of introductions, we simply started praying together over the phone. I learned that this was not an out of the ordinary occurrence, either.

We pray for our individual and shared initiatives. We pray for guidance regarding new ideas. We we gathered for our annual staff retreat, we prayed and prayed, and prayed some more. They we prayed over each other!

I’ve always prayed for my undertakings in ministry. But this culture of recourse to prayers of praise and thanks and petition has challenged me to be even more ready to pray on a dime, and for this I am grateful.

2) They really love the Bible

Newsflash here, right? Protestants read the Bible???

Yup. My co-workers truly love the word of God, and read it prayerfully and with an expectation that God will speak to the situations in their lives. Because of this, when we discuss matters of work, scripture passages are at their fingertips to apply to the situation, or at least add to the discussion.

We also start some of our calls by leading a “devotional”, which is essentially a reflection on a scripture passage.

Did you know that Pope Benedict reportedly said that when Catholics start reading the Bible everyday, it will usher in a new springtime in the Church?

Perhaps we should borrow a page from their book (see what I did there?) and love our Bibles with the same fervour. 

3) They believe in investing in the Catholic Church

Our first staff call was an eye opener for me. When we had our prayer time, one of my coworkers prayed for a great renewal in the Catholic Church (“awakening the giant,” I believe she said). This still moves me.

The mere existence of my job is proof of the their desire for this. 

As well, I have seen in them a great desire to understand the Catholic Church more. I was asked to give a “Catholicism 101” workshop at our staff retreat and I saw how much they cared about how we see things. One of my colleagues is reading Pope Francis and loving it! Which leads me to my next point...

4) They love the pope!

Pope Francis speaks and lives in a language that Evangelicals can understand. With his engagement with the late Tony Palmer and hosting Pastor Rick Warren at a recent Vatican conference on marriage, the desire for unity and collaboration on behalf of the Pontiff is apparent. (And that goes both ways, as Warren made headlines by encouraging all Christians to join Pope Francis in areas of common mission.)

The desire for unity on either side of the fence is impossible not to love. 

5) They are expectant on the Holy Spirit to lead

I see the same heart in Evangelical Protestants that I do in Charismatic Catholics. They both rely upon the Holy Spirit to work! This is a well-grounded and unifying disposition, and we should all try to embrace and live it ever more sincerely.

I see the same heart in Evangelical Protestants that I do in Charismatic Catholics.

The desire for unity has been growing in my heart in recent years. As the world becomes more and more post-Christian, doesn't it become all the more apparent what we have in common? That, in the words of St. John XXIII, "what unites us is much greater than what divides us"? (Ut Unum Sint, 20) 

Pope Francis recently spoke of Christians being united by “an ecumenism of blood,” as those who persecute Christians do not distinguish between confessional traditions. 

He also called upon us to work together in the task of evangelization.

“Today there are so many men and women around us who are weary and thirsting, and who ask us Christians to give them something to drink. It is a request which we cannot evade. In the call to be evangelisers, all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities discover a privileged setting for closer co-operation.

“For this to be effective, we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations. Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms.”

And he noted that truly encountering one another will be more fruitful than “subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions."

“When the Son of Man comes, he will find us still discussing! We need to realise that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonises diversities, overcomes conflicts, reconciles differences.”

We need one another. 

I hope that you are also able to experience firsthand some of the things that I’ve shared. We might all ask ourselves, are there Protestants in my life that I haven’t fully embraced in friendship? Have I been open to encounter them as Pope Francis describes?

And do I long for the reunification of all Christians? Is it among my daily prayer intentions? Do I recall that Jesus prayed right before his passion that we would all be one?

If not, please do so. I’d love to read your list of what you love about Protestants!

"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,
that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me
and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.
(John 17:20-24)

Related: Suddently Something Remarkable is Happening in Ecumenism

The desire for Christian unity on either side of the fence is impossible not to love. — Josh Canning

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