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CACOPHONY OR SYMPHONY?

Diversity in a church can produce either discord or harmony.

Some differences—between snowflakes, for instance, or symphony instruments—make us delight in diversity. Other differences, however, like those between vinegar and baking soda, combine to set off a furious reaction.

I learned the volatile nature of diversity in a church during an all-committee night. I had been pastor of the church for about a year and a half. The congregation was growing in its understanding and practice of Christian discipleship, but the growth was not without discord.

One committee was discussing spiritual qualifications for leadership. A young man was telling his fellow committee members that our increasing emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was making us too narrow and restrictive.

"Look," said Jim, "none of us is a saint. If you don't have room for people who doubt and struggle and don't speak perfect theology, I won't be part of it."

A long, strained dialogue began. Over an hour later, we realized Jim was hearing one message—not ...

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