Creating a culture of unity and peace is about understanding what encourages and discourages peace, and then empowering those in high risk areas to make the right choices for the health and success of the movement.
Sometimes this is achieved with positive reinforcement after a good interaction. Other times, it takes a proactive approach before something bad happens.
Here is an example from personal experience in my own denomination. Several years ago, a wonderful pastor friend organized our national pastors conference. He instructed each of the speakers, “No drive-bys on your fellow pastors in our denomination.”
That struck me, so I told him how much I appreciated that, but then I said, “I just look forward to the day when you don’t have to tell them.”
You might find it interesting that the organizers of our conferences don’t have to give that same talk today.
Depending on your situation, that kind of proactive approach may still be needed. You shouldn’t have to tell a pastor or church leader to present themselves and their position in a way that engenders a peace-building conversation, but sometimes you do.
And in many denominations, it is essential. I’ve been in Lutheran, Pentecostal, Anglican, Baptist and other settings in the last year and this still remains a major issue—so let’s be proactive to address it.
Until you have established a culture of peace, communicate it whenever, wherever and however it is necessary.
Substance Over Style
In the end, it is important to remember that substance is more valuable than style. We can and should be aggressive when it comes to issues of substance. There are things you cannot be and still be considered within the boundaries of your theological tribe—it isn’t a free-for-all.
If you are going to be in a family, value what the family values.
But we should be generous when it comes to style. There is more space for variations. When it comes to flexible issues that will change according to context, intentionally work in and toward peace.
Denominations and networks must have common beliefs with diverse applications across ethnicity, languages and cultures. That’s a given. What is harder for some is to see that diversity across generations.
Do you think peace across generations prevails in your own denomination? If so, why? Are there other things that can be done to encourage peace between generations in a denomination?