So over on my FaceBook, I have posed the the following question,

When having a conversation with someone you
disagree with about said disagreement, what is one characteristic/trait
of the other person that helps make the conversation meaningful?

For those on Facebook, would love the get more feedback so I think this is the link to the question.

I often think that the future of the church will rest in our ability to truly be in community despite some theological, political and social differences.  Of course, the breadth of those differences will determine quite a bit, but in keeping a larger middle in common community, there have to be some bridges crossed.

Now I am not simply talking about denominational relationships here.  I am talking pretty much about anyone who may disagree but hopes to stay in some kind of Christian community.  As a self-professed progressive, I hope that I am able to sit with those who might be self-professed conservatives, have some meaningful conversations and walk away feeling both taken seriously and that I have grown by hearing the perspectives of another.  No one had to be won over, no one had to WIN, we just had to be heard.

It seems to me that if we can just sit down together without any agenda to win the other over, but to simply try to understand the others’ perspectives, we might move a long way towards building a community that grows, rather than splits, in the face of conflict.

If this is going to happen, there has to be some kind of code of conduct in order to have these meaningful conversations.  Here is what I could love with:

  • You are my brother/sister in Christ;
  • I will not be an arrogant ass, jerk or any other manifestation of an insensitive goober poopyhead;
  • I know you are not solely defined by one issue/belief;
  • I do not own the truth;
  • I will trust that God is bigger than any of this;
  • I want to try and understand where you are coming from;
  • I believe your opinions come from a place of faith;
  • I am not trying to convince you of anything;
  • I believe the body is stronger with us together working through tensions;
  • I will not "take my ball and go home" simply because we disagree;
  • At any point, if I feel like your opinions are oppressive or unjust, I reserve the right to respectfully disengage and hope you will understand;

Now before I am accused of subtly taking some shots at my conservative colleagues, rest assured, I swing the hammer at all sides.  There are P-L-E-N-T-Y of liberals out there who would NEVER be able to agree to these ways of being in conversations.  Jerks are jerks no matter the theological perspective.   And while I understand the need for radicals on all sides to help keep some key issues in the forefront, when it comes to sitting down to engage in meaningful discourse,  I’ll take a pleasant conservative over an arrogant progressive ANY day!

So can we do it?  I don’t know, but I tell ya, there have been so many more moments for me in the last few years of meaningful conversations across some theological lines that I would not have imagined possible before.  That for me is pretty darn cool!

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