Reflections for those who participate1
- Am I willing to engage in respectful discussion with those with a different opinion from me, instead of wanting to impose upon them my point of view? Am I able to do this?
- In my heart, do I regard those who disagree with me on this topic as my brothers and sisters in God’s family, brought together by His grace? Do I truly love them as Christ loves me?
- Am I willing to consider this issue from the point of view of the person with whom I disagree?
- Do I genuinely believe that, though I disagree with another person, I will nevertheless defend their right to believe what they do as fellow believers who live in the grace of God?
- Am I able to view other people’s opinions on this issue, not as right or wrong in relation to mine, but simply different from mine, as we explore God’s Word together?
- Am I willing for my heart touched by the pain people experience around this question?
- Am I genuinely able to reach out to a hurting person who has a different belief from me, and offer them care and support?
- Am I aware of my capacity to inflict hurt on another person, and my capacity to make them feel unsafe? Do I have sufficient personal checks within me to ensure this does not happen – and to redress it if it does?
- ‘I do not consider that a person who believes differently from me on this question is in danger of divine condemnation.’ Is this true for me?
- Do I recognise that my beliefs are formed and influenced not only by my understanding of scripture, theology, and church, but also by my personality, prejudices, and life experiences?
- Do I pray for those who believe differently from me on this issue – not that they will be converted to my viewpoint, but that they and I will be blessed as we work together on it?
- Do I want to see our church reach a God-pleasing decision which respects the integrity and faith of all those who are engaged in this debate?
Reflections after a dialogue session
- What have I learned today? (…about, for example, beliefs, other people, myself, etc.)
- How have I listened today, and how well have I heard:
with my attitude?
with my heart?
with my ears?
with my mouth?
- Do I feel that I have been listened to, and heard?
- What could I do better next time?
Reflections for those who are theologians.
- Do I respect the theological ability of those with whom I disagree, rather than regard them as people who are theologically and biblically inferior to me?
Reflections for those who are leaders.
- Am I aware of my God-given responsibility to model Christ’s love in all circumstances?
- Have I addressed my own tendency to want to be right and to diminish others who do not agree with me?
- Am I sensitive to the potential I have been given to heal and not to harm?
- Am I willing to have my own fears and prejudices on this matter uncovered and confronted (addressed)?
1 These personal reflections are provided to help us engage with open and caring hearts so that each participant can feel confident in saying what he/she thinks without suppressing it because of an unhealthy fear of confrontation or personal attack. A personal attitude that others see as caring and considerate strengthens our joint resolve to seek a common understanding on the issue before us. This checklist is not intended to replace honest discussion on the Scriptural truth or otherwise of individual points of view.