Having come from a conservative Baptist background, I had been tough that Pentecostals were going to hell, as were most other Protestants (Catholics were obviously going to hell, and didn’t warrant discussion). Joining the Navy with that attitude caused some problems at times, particularly as I learned about missions from a world-wide view. So the first question is, “What are your preconceived notions about members of other denominations?” Then I met a guy named Steve, who was an Assemblies of God man. We were going to church together at a general Protestant chapel in Japan, so it was natural that we’d hang out periodically. On more than one occasion, we’d get into arguments about baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and the like. He would be just as adamant that I was wrong as I was sure he was.
One day we realized that, at our core, we both relied on Christ’s blood for our eternal salvation. I think the revelation hit both of us pretty hard, but me more than Steve. I had been raised wrong. It was a tough pill to swallow. Suddenly, it wasn’t hard to go out on the town with Steve, knowing that he would a) protect my spiritual self as I protected him and b) that he could be a trusted co-laborer in Christ. We met missionaries, handed out tracts, and shared our testimonies, all among mixed company and with several denominations. My world view literally exploded.
So the second question is, “What parts of your worldview are challenged by working with members of other denominations?” With the recent Strange Fire event, I’ve found myself questioning more of my upbringing. It’s not that I think we should all be speaking in tongues; it’s just that I think some of us do, and it bothers me that others don’t see the potential in relationships with other denominations.
I realize that this is a predominantly Methodist blog, but I enjoy it. I get a good perspective on mission that sometimes differs from mine (particularly in the social work setting). It’s a good perspective to have.
And so I leave you with one final question: “Are you willing to work with members of other denominations to further the Gospel?”