Some of the local pastors came up with the idea of combining our congregations in multi-site classes. The classes would be hosted by a couple churches and led by people from different churches, thus bringing several groups together. The material we chose to use for our first outing was a four-week study called Muslims, Christians, and Jesus.
Last night we held the first of the four weekly meetings in our building. The discussion was facilitated by a lay leader from another church. We had about twenty people in attendance. One was a very nice Muslim man who was curious about what we were doing.
One of the biggest take-aways I had from the night (besides the building of intercongregational cooperation and trust) was this comment: “We need God to deliver us from fear. If you’re afraid of Muslims, you can’t talk to them. If you don’t talk to them, how will they hear the good news that Jesus loves them?” I thought that point about fear was a very good one, and I thought our gathering in this way (as well as another gathering on a different night at a different church with a different leader) is a good start toward becoming the unified, effective body God wants us to be.
I’m a part of a group called Church Without Shoes. Most of us in the group admit that the name is silly (it refers to the fact that under our denominational “shoes” (distinct practices and doctrines) our feet (faith) all look the same), but we love the group and the idea behind it. The group started when several pastors/ministers from several denominations 1) became aware of each other, 2) saw some similarities in each other, and 3) began to trust each other enough to first pray together, then cooperate together, and ultimately do life/the life of faith together.
Each month the group meets for prayer. Yesterday, we had our monthly prayer meeting at our congregation (First Christian Church – Pleasant Hill). While we were praying, I managed to grab a couple pics.
I really need this group. Do I have differences and disagreements with some of the pastors? Absolutely! Do I see those differences/disagreements as worthy of breaking fellowship with them? Absolutely not. What I have learned after nine years with these men and women is that their faith is as genuine as mine. They are clearly followers of Christ. Maybe the are in error about some things (maybe I’m am, too; I doubt I’ve got the faith perfect in doctrine and practice), but they are still clearly followers of Christ, members of His family, my brothers and sisters in the faith. I believe I have to fellowship with them (1 John 5:1ff), and I am very happy to do so.
If there is a similar group in your area, you should consider participating. You will get more than you lose. If you’d like to check our group out, you can find us on our website and Facebook and Twitter.