The last couple of days have been spent at Our Life Together, a clergy gathering for the whole conference at St. Luke’s in Indianapolis. This year, the two main speakers were Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Mike Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC in Ohio. Being part of the Bishop’s Leadership Academy afforded, I and other participants had the great opportunity of interacting with Mike Slaughter on Monday day with dinner and a Q&A session.

During that time, Slaughter shared something that he also shared with the larger group this morning that has stuck with me. He said, “Today’s heretics are tomorrow’s orthodoxy.” Those who dare to step away from the “norm” and try something new are often looked at as radicals that are considered dangerous. Here’s what I learned about Slaughter though: his theology is not what’s deemed heretical. To hear him speak with passion about the gospel and bringing people to Christ was incredible. It’s his methods that some may call into question because they are not the traditional way of doing things. Not traditional… but effective, as Ginghamsburg is one of the largest UM congregations in the United States, and, as he says, “is a town with 22 houses.” 64% of their budget goes to missional activities. That’s unbelievable.

Part of the reason I mention all of this is because of a verse from today’s Scripture reading. Paul is in Rome. He has been there for a grand total of three days when he asks the local Jewish leaders to come see him (being a prisoner, he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to visit people around the city). Paul’s goal in this meeting: to share the gospel with the Jewish leaders. So, he tells them that this is what he wants to do, and they are very obliging.

But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere (Acts 28:22).

Now, why did this verse direct my mind to what Slaughter had to say? Because there are some who would make judgements on Ginghamsburg simply because it is a large church. There are some who would put down Slaughter as a “celebrity” pastor who is just in it for the fame and book deals. Some would immediately shut him out. Some view him as one of today’s heretics. But what if we didn’t?

What if we actually listened to what people had to say? What if we embraced the opportunity to hear somebody out – to hear their passions, theology, methodology – before filing them away in the Looney Folder? I think we’ll see that there are opportunities to reach people for the kingdom; opportunities that we never would have considered otherwise.

Not all of the Jewish leaders were convinced of the truth of the gospel. Paul shared with them. Some rejoiced, others argued and disagreed. But if we allow secondhand views to dictate our understanding and approach to new and different ideas, we’ll never truly grow into tomorrow’s orthodoxy.

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