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People don’t always agree, but you know that. But here are some questions to consider: “How do you communicate with someone that you disagree with?” “What happens if that person is a relative, close friend, or even a colleague?” The number one response is often avoidance. Don’t bring it up. Ignore the issue. But is this the best way? I don’t think so. Avoiding people just “kicks the can further down the road.”

In ministry, there are categories of disagreements. That’s part of life. Recognize that some disagreements are relational. For example, there might be a dispute on how to handle a problem. Often, there’s no clear right or wrong answer to those situations. They may simply be a matter of preference. Some are personal. All of us have preferences. You have distinct likes or dislikes. Choosing “avoidance” will result in bitterness.

The last category is theological differences. Every church or ministry will have plenty of theological disputes. How you navigate these is huge. Ask yourself, “Is it a major or minor issue? Do you disagree with your understanding of who God is?  What is the standard for determining truth? Consider this strategy. Make sure your discussion is not simply a matter of opinion. Continue to focus on objective truth, not preferences or trends.

Rhyne R. Putman from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary suggests these principles. You can embrace differences, rejecting divisiveness. Check your motives in your discussions. Pray. Speak reasonably and charitably. Don’t be timid or patronizing. Offer gentle and loving correction.

I know these discussions are hard. But consider Ephesians 4:29“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Worried about your pastor? Take the first step today.