Our preaching text this past Sunday was Acts 15:1-18. The story therein concerns the early church and one of their early arguments. I really didn't focus on what they were arguing about in my sermon, but more on how they were arguing. When we face disagreements in our congregations today, we would do well to focus on the following three things now as the apostles did then:
- Experience - It has been said that the only thing constant is change. When the church faces change, we cannot hunker in the bunker and hope that change will go away. We are called instead to re-evaluate our mission in light of new situations.
- Revelation - When we decide that the best course is to (a) continue as we have or (b) alter our direction, we ask, "Is this what God really wants, or just what I want?"
- Scripture - Finally, and most importantly, we explore how scripture might inform our handling of the situation. Are there precedents or principles to follow?
(I am indebted to William Willimon's commentary on Acts for these insights.)