From my research for “52 Churches” I’ve been learning a great deal about the larger faith community I’m part of.
Perhaps the most significant so far is courtesy of the United Methodist Church and their document “Guidelines: The United Methodist Church and the Charismatic Movement.” It’s a bit formal, but contains some profound principles that when followed will allow charismatic and non-charismatic believers to peacefully coexist, realizing the unity that Jesus prayed for and desires from his followers. Though it was written by the denomination for itself, the truths it contains are applicable to any Christian group.
Consider some of the document’s headings:
- “Guidelines for All”
- “For Pastors Who Have Had Charismatic Experiences”
- “For Pastors Who Have Not Had Charismatic Experiences”
- “For Laity Who Have Had Charismatic Experiences”
- “For Laity Who Have Not Had Charismatic Experiences”
- The first guideline is foundational: “Be open and accepting of those whose Christian experiences differ from your own.”
- The two sections for pastors are virtually identical.
- The two sections for laity are quite instructive and helpful
- These principles are applicable to just about any polarizing disagreement in the church over doctrine or practice.
The main point of all this is we need to be ready and willing to accept those who may have different faith perspectives and experiences.
That’s unity; that’s what Jesus wants.
[Read more about this in Peter DeHaan’s e-book A Faith Manifesto: A Christian Perspective on Unity and Acceptance.]