Working with People from Other Traditions
Practical tips for working with people from differing Christian traditions on our base. This is relevant whether or not the team is a part of Kerygma.
The heart of the issue is the issue of the heart. Developing a loving and serving attitude on our base towards people of other faiths and traditions is of vital importance and most basic to spiritual life of missionaries. God does not call us to 'change' people, or to make sure they have the right belief system, but rather to witness of Jesus and to lay down our lives freely for them, 'gratuitement'.
When my wife and I first started to share with the YWAM team about our sense of calling to work with Catholics, we had several staff come to us with sincere concerns. They thought they would be pushed to work with people they didn't necessarily feel called to, and that they would have to change some of their beliefs. This could have caused a lot of tension in the team. What helped is when we asked them to have Jesus' attitude towards Catholics on and off the base.
Ensuring that people are free to make up their minds whether they want to work with Catholics or other traditions than their own, to pursue their calling. If they cannot do that on our base it is better to encourage them to move to a base where they can do so, rather than try and squeeze commitment out of them they are not wholeheartedly willing to give.
Unity in Diversity
On our bases we have to deal all the time with this double dynamic. On one side we affirm people in their uniqueness of language and dialect, culture and tradition, with true and genuine appreciation. On the other hand we have to challenge them and even require from them a heart attitude for unity.
Belgium: In a country like Belgium where we deal with the European linguistic- , cultural- and religious fault lines we have had to learn to be united in Jesus but diverse in all these other aspects. This creates a double dynamic for us as leaders: we affirm people's uniqueness, we want to work with the grain of their culture not against it. Unity in Jesus never goes at the expense of wiping out people's subjective perception of their uniqueness.
Rub Shoulders Not Heads
If you want to teach people on your base to appreciate other traditions don't try to persuade them by discussion and argumentation. Rubbing shoulders in prayer times or some practical ministries that focuses away from these issues is far more productive.
Belgium. A good friend of mine, who was evangelical pastor before coming on staff, had a long list of concerns about the Catholic Church, which he sincerely wrestled with. It was only when he got to know Catholics closely through prayer times and working together in our bookshop that he could make the switch to loving Catholics in spite of some of his remaining disagreements with Catholic doctrine. He has been one of our most fruitful bridge builders in Brussels.