One thing I learned while we were in Jamaica was that it isn’t all that difficult to work with people that you don’t agree with on every issue. I’ve known people who felt they could never work in a situation where they were on a campus together. It does have its own set of problems for sure, but they can be resolved. We need two ingredients in our ability to work together.
- We just need to maintain communication with each other!
- We need to be respectful of each other.
Once you are convinced of a basic commitment to Christ, it is easier to learn to develop these other 2 skills
Once you are convinced you have a basic commitment to Christ and His Lordship in your life, it is easy to work together with those who have doctrinal differences, particularly when you are serving outside a variety of smaller groups over a wide area like the Caribbean. Some of our students were even from areas where English wasn’t always their primary language, it was Dutch, but they were very fluent in English.
It still was much better for them to come to a school in the Caribbean than to go to the U.S. where they often never returned to minister to their own country, to say nothing of the cost of the schooling in the U.S. and travel!
Once we realized we were all going to be in heaven together, and started learning to live together here, we developed some koinonia and ability to respect each other so we could work together.
You need to drop the feeling that you have all the answers in your view of theology
In our current denomination, there are some that come across in a way that they feel they have all the doctrinal answers. It often makes me uncomfortable with their approach because I feel that all of us need to have some humility with regard to our interpretations of Scripture. When people express their beliefs with arrogance and an I-have-all-the-answers attitude and your-answers-are-all-wrong approach, I am very uncomfortable!
It cuts off dialogue and sounds like you think you are GOD and not one of His followers. The truth is, none of us knows everything. We are following Christ. We read His Word for truth and wisdom but there are true believers of His who understand certain passages differently and with good reason.
There is much we can learn from each other for sure, but on some things we may never find total agreement this side of heaven. Sitting and arguing is probably not going to do it! Discussing might do it, at least so a person could understand the Biblical reasons for something they can’t even understand as Biblical, but it still may not change their mind to believe that doctrine.
There is no question, working for a parachurch group gives an appreciation for the differences in the Body of Christ
For those who have worked in a parachurch organization, you understand this. It gives you an appreciation for your own distinctions in beliefs as well as an appreciation for the gifts and distinctions of others.
Since Jamaica, we have worked in our own denomination that started while we lived in Jamaica. There are advantages and disadvantages of this as well…but that is a story for another day.