i just finished watching the willowcreek leadership summitt 2003 interview with ken blanchard and john maxwell. i was really struck by a picture that ken blanchard painted. when he was asked how american pastors are doing with leadership, he responded with a charge for churches to unite and "kill the competition," by focusing on jesus. churches are like franchises promoting a product, the message of jesus. he called us to get over our club rules, regulations and rituals and work toward the same goal. (of course, the church is much more than that....all illustrations break down either quickly or somewhere down the line.)
that's always been a value and passion of mine. working with ivcf, i get to move in and out lots of different churches, denominations and christian circles. i count that a priviledge. i dream of a time when churches of an area like mine in nw indiana could unite and kill the competition. it seems possible to actually focus on proclaiming the message of jesus in a way that unites people of differences.
but that dream has been challenged recently for me. because in order to unite, that would mean that christians would all have to adopt my "united" framework. what i mean is that i believe with all my heart that there are certain things that are central to the christian faith and certain things that are periphery. if we could all just focus on the central things, we could kill the competition. but who gets to decide what's central and periphery? and is it just pride to think that i get to say what is peripheral?
lots of folks wouldn't agree on what is central and what is not. that's why the differences. and sometimes i wonder if my" dropping of peripheral things" is just pushing my framework on another. some folks i've found recently would not even agree that there are central and peripherial beliefs. for them, everything is central....and to acknowledge a periphery is to acknowledge weakness, lose respect and to become ineffective in leading people to jesus.
would jesus or paul have said "well, that's not central and i'm not sure if what i believe is right or not.... there have been so many perspectives over the years." part of me doubts that.
at the same time, humility and a biblical understanding of the human condition, even after jesus changes a person, would seem to include some doubt at all times of our own ability to get it right. i just can't believe that having an attitude of absolute correctness would be something jesus would want.