Guest / Limited Access /
Proselytizing in a Multi-Faith World
Left to Right / Thinkstock / Getty; iStock; iStock; Photodisc; iStock

Five years ago, I found myself sitting in an interfaith meeting. Gracious people from different religions and denominations had gathered at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's headquarters in Chicago to plan the ongoing work of congregational research. The goal of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership was to bring together participants from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i, and Orthodox churches to research and compare our findings.

I was unsure whether I belonged at the meeting. In one session, the facilitator explained that the research should lead to cooperative resourcing to help all of our congregations. He suggested we could jointly create, publish, and distribute resources to help congregations in faith development and growth.

At the appropriate time, and with my best smile, I raised my hand and said something like this: "I appreciate the funding that allows us to survey our churches, and I think it is helpful to use similar questions and metrics for better research. But I am not here to form a partnership to help one another. I want to help the churches I serve, and part of the reason they exist is to convert some of you."

I paused, smiled, and worked hard not to sound menacing (it was probably too late). Some participants in the room looked at me as if I had just uttered a string of profanities. Others nodded in agreement. Then the Muslim imam seated next to me said, in effect, "I feel the same way."

Though the imam and I were in a minority in that group of predominantly liberal Protestants, we represented the movements among us that are actually growing in numbers. Both he and I believed in sharing and enlarging our faiths. We did not think ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueAn Everyday Scandal
Subscriber Access Only An Everyday Scandal
The slaughter of the unborn needs no hidden cameras for condemnation.
Current IssueMy Home Has 'Murder' in Its Name
Subscriber Access Only
My Home Has 'Murder' in Its Name
How Russell Jeung met Jesus among the Southeast Asian gangs of Oakland.
RecommendedGlennon Doyle Melton's Gospel of Self-Fulfillment
Glennon Doyle Melton's Gospel of Self-Fulfillment
Why living your truth bravely isn't enough.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickThe Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’
The Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’
How the New Testament offers a better, higher calling than the Declaration of Independence.
Christianity Today
Proselytizing in a Multi-Faith World
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.