Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Learning From Those With Whom We Disagree

During the month of May Scottsville Baptist is reading and studying Thom Rainer's "I am a Church Member." It was mailed to me by my mom the easter bunny who still sends goodies via US Postal Service every spring.  I might as well say it: I'm pro-Jesus and pro-bunny.  YOU try planning Holy Week services without a Peep or seven.  Let me know how that works.  

Rainer's book has been helpful to our church.  It is easy to understand and asks good questions.  Rainer encourages the church to approach church membership as gift.  He challenges us to embody a sacrificial attitude and not to blame others (whoever the others are).  It's a good book.  

Do I agree with all of it?  No.  In the chapter about praying for church leaders the pronoun 'he' is used exclusively to describe the pastor.  Is 'he' the main point of the book?  No.  Is it distracting?  Yes.  Can I still learn from the book?  Of course.

Here's the thing:  I want to be the kind of person who not only says she has an open mind; I actually want to have one.  I fail at this often, and sometimes I'm not good at listening to folks who don't affirm my call. But I want to be better.  Seriously.  

The polarization within Protestantism is staggering. How can we move forward if we're not willing to engage? We don't have to agree 100% to learn from each other.  The name-calling and unfair comparisons seem out of control.  Are we working toward reconciliation and movement forward for Christ?   

I told Scottsville Baptist folks to put 's' before 'he' and all will be well! The joke landed PTL and we moved on. Baptists can think for themselves after all (paging soul freedom, aisle two).  If an author who leans right or left (however such adjectives are measured!) helps point us to Jesus Christ, let's dig in and learn. (Of course it won't always be this simple, but can we try?)  Harvest the wheat and brush off the chaff. 

You might read the book and think it's not helpful.  That's fine.  I'm only hoping we can approach those with whom we disagree with an open mind and gentle spirit.  It's the only way to move forward.  


  1. And by the way, I too am pro-Peep.

    1. I'm relieved. Thanks be they're around all year long now! I'm hoping they will correspond to the rest of the church calendar soon.

  2. I cannot be reminded of this enough times. It's so tempting to get mad, get defensive, get cynical, or simply to disengage because reasonable discourse seems impossible at times. But the Holy Spirit can and does work through anyone. Thanks for writing this!

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Julie. You are spot on. It's tempting (and easier) to get mad and disengage. Usually the hard way is the best way. Thanks for your thanks.