Three Questions about Missions: Working with other Denominations

One of the first things I tend to ask someone when I meet them and learn that they are interested in ministry is, “What is your faith background?” Now, I ask that because I am in the US Navy, which is a complete cross-section of American society, including the American religious landscape. If one is not careful, a fellow can end up working with a Pentecostal! I jest, mostly.

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?”


Anonymous said...

My mother was a Northern Baptist and my father an estranged Catholic. For a time we went to a Presbyterain church. Later friends who were Catholic took me to thiers. I decided to be baptized Catholic at 16. I know I just lost some who may read this. Given my back ground I never looked at other Christians as lesser Christians. The differences that I think of are more cultural than dogmatic. There is an African American church in Chicago that is Catholic but you would think it to be African American Baptist if you got a quick glimpse of it. Even that though I am open minded enough to look past it. I am always willing to work with a brother regardless of denomination. I have went to many other churches with friends as Dan can atest to. Other than Dan most did not reciprocate. As for Dan the priest gave a fire and brimstone sermon which made him smile. Guess he was in tune with his baptist side. lol.- Shawn Finn

Unknown said...

But curious though. If you don't believe that speaking in tongues is in fact an actual blessing from God that currently exists in the world, then what is going on among these people that do?ie are they possessed by evil spirits, faking etc? If you do think it is a blessing from God that currently exists in today's world, what are you doing correct all of your doctrinal errors that would be opened up by this belief? ie switching to a correct teaching church etc?

This was always a tough issue for me as well. I fail to see how ignoring pretty major differences is the solution, although I do agree among smaller issues like "how many archangels were there? 1 or 3?", healthy fun debate can be had. I think the answer is 1, by the way.

Unknown said...

I believe in everything that Jesus and the bible says, and I believe all christians should believe it if not we think that what is in the bible is a lie. The problem with denominations is that somebody founded at some point a man who may have walked with God and his personal experience with God was transmitted to others, that doesn't mean all the ones who are in that denomination have walked with God the same as he did. Everyone should seek God personaly and know Him tryly with an open heart instead of following doctrines of denominations. The problem is that one denomination focus on one part of the bible and leave other parts aside or reject some other parts of the scriptures.