This week, think about a church or a friend or fellow Christian who belongs to a church other than yours. It may be that you know someone or a local church whose doctrines and practices are different than yours. See if you can implement some or all of Wesley's ideas.
What might this look like?
- Treat them as companions. Ask the person to lunch. If it is a church you are feeling led to connect with in this way, worship with them.
- Do not speak or think evil of them. Be sure to refrain from pointing out your differences, either to the person or to others. Focus on what you have in common.
- Pray for them. Make that person or that church the special object of your prayers this week.
- Encourage them to do good. During lunch or worship, or whenever you connect, be sure to encourage the person in the good work he or she is already doing. Ask questions and find out what the person, or the church, is doing in ministry, and be affirming.
- Collaborate with them. If at all possible, see if you can work alongside the person (or church), either in something he or she is doing, or in some ministry in which you are engaged. Working alongside someone creates a bond of unity that overcomes our differences.
In addition, find time this week to pray not only for those who differ, but for the body of Christ and its leaders. The following are two ways we can do this:
- Pray for the unity of the church. As you pray for the unity of the church you will find yourself shifting the focus from how we differ in ideas or practices, and onto the One who holds us all together.
- Pray for pastors and leaders. If the church is to unite in new ways, it will likely come from the leaders. Pray for pastors and other church leaders to catch the same vision that captured the mind of Richard Foster. If you want, use Richard's vision as a guide for your prayers.
—Taken from The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love, by James Bryan Smith. Copyright 2010 by James Bryan Smith. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.