If your understanding of the church falls outside the normally accepted range, then I want to encourage you to have patience with others. I encourage you to listen and to explain carefully and to focus on important aspects.
Jim at “Crossroad Junction” offers an excellent example of this kind of patience in his post “Directed Church versus Participatory Church: A Dialog.”
In that post, Jim relays a conversation that he had with one of his mother’s close friends about gathering with believers in a prison. Jim does not belittle her or get annoyed with her, even when she doesn’t understand in the end.
Here is part of their dialog:
Me: “…I have learned to sit back so they can learn to express what the Lord is doing in them and it always seems to meet the needs of those present. Sometimes I have something to share, usually along the lines of helping to create a framework for them to come forth. This morning, however, like most of the times I join with them, I said a few words as just one of the guys then sat down as they ministered to each other for an hour and half. Like usual, they also ministered to me.”
Her: Silence, then, “Oh, so you are there to make sure they don’t get off track?”
Me: “No, they’ve learned to do a really good job of that themselves. I just go to enjoy their fellowship every now and then and be an encouragement to them or maybe add some foundational input.”
If you read the remainder of Jim’s article, you’ll get a good sense of the life of these prisoners as they live as the church in their prison.
You’ll also see how carefully he answers his friend’s questions. The difficulty, of course, is that she does not understand exactly what he’s talking about because it is so outside of the categories in her thinking about the church.
So, Jim is patience, careful, and includes many explanations and illustrations.
By the way, this is also a terrific way to deal with any kind of disagreement or misunderstanding.
Great example, Jim! Thanks!