At college we were encouraged to debate different views and interpretations. For three years that’s what I did. Discussed, questioned, argued, disagreed. And it was ok. It was ok to disagree over theology and doctrine. Because that’s what you were there to do.
But then you finish college and get a job as youth worker in a church.
You work with people who haven’t been given that freedom to discuss, challenge and disagree. And when you bring an idea that they haven’t heard before or you choose to work by the ethos “give them all the views and help them make an informed choice” they scream heretic and tell the pastor you’re poisoning the young people with unbiblical views.
The thing is, at college they don’t prepare you for this. They don’t prepare you to have discussions with people who have only ever believed one interpretation and think any other is heresy.
The truth is, lots of people disagree and have different views but they just don’t share them.
But i’m not like that.
My mistake was wanting to debate with those who disagreed me but that only made things worse.
So what to do?
After some reflection and prayer I found a solution. We were always going to disagree on certain aspects of theology but they weren’t important. Within the Christian faith (and any faith I suppose) there are certain fundamentals that need to be held and then there is other doctrine that people can have different views on and that’s okay. We talked about what we did agree on and that helped to show that we were both starting from the same page.
And for the last few months there has been no cries of heresy! No worries about my leadership.
I’m sure other issues will arise but what I’ve learned is to focus more on the things we do agree on than the things we don’t. Focus on what brings us together rather than what tears us apart.
I hope I never forget that lesson.