In ministry, we work with people. You have senior staff to answer to and collaborate with. You have your team of adult volunteers to consider. And of course there are students and their parents. With so many people’s opinion to consider, how do you keep everyone in agreement?
Well, the truth is, you can’t. And that’s not a bad thing. Let me explain . . .
When it comes to working on a team, it’s OK, and sometimes important, to disagree. Now, you may be saying, wait a minute, Andy. That’s not exactly what Scripture says. In this case you’d have a point…
- 1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind . . .”
- In Acts 4:32, Luke writes, “All the believers were one in heart and mind . . .”
- In 1 Corinthians 10:10 Paul urges his audience to be “perfectly united in mind and thought.”
- 2 Corinthians 13:11 has Paul giving this command: “ . . . listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace . . .”
- Paul also says in Philippians 2:2 that he would be overjoyed if the Philippian Christ-followers would only be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
So, what is it? If we’re commanded to be united in our thoughts, how is there room for disagreement? And how can disagreement be positive?
First things first, I’m not 100% sure that these passages speak to the fact that we should all agree with one another on every issue. I believe these passages speak to the concept that the Big C church, the global body of believers, should hold to a baseline of faith that must be held by all Christ-followers. This has to do with the importance of the Church being united in its desire to see God’s Kingdom realized on this earth.
And I believe the primary application from these passages is directed at local congregations. There is absolutely no place for division in the local body.
So, is there a difference between division and disagreement? I think there is. Division is bad. Disagreement is OK. Check this out . . .
Paul himself makes it pretty clear that believers won’t hold the same convictions. His whole discussion in Romans 14 speaks to this. Paul was talking about food sacrificed to idols, but there are tons of modern day applications for this. Paul seems to think there is room for differing opinions regarding the details. I look at it this way: We all better be on the same page with the stuff that is black and white. There is room for differing opinions about the gray.
Unity of mind and heart is important. But as William Barclay says, “There is room enough in God’s Kingdom for different opinions.” And you’ll have plenty of different opinions about how to run your ministry. (A fact not lost on you, at all!) But disagreement can be extremely positive, when done right . . .
- Disagreement can introduce us to new thoughts about God
- Disagreement can open us up to different ways to get things done
- Disagreement can lead to new opportunities for people to be empowered and expand their ownership in our ministries
- Disagreement can be a perfect laboratory for learning the important lessons of humility
- And finally, disagreement can actually help you realize that you are in fact (gulp) wrong about something
So, are there some tips for how to have healthy disagreement within our ministries? I think there are . . .