Pastor Ryan pointed out in his message that one of the reasons followers elevate their leaders in unhealthy ways and to unhealthy places is because of the personal preferences of the followers. “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or, “I am of Christ” was the way the Corinthians expressed it. When I was in college it was, “I am of R.C. Sproul,” or “I am of A.W. Tozer,” or “I am of Chuck Smith.” Today it’s a different group we huddle around and elevate. And a lot of the reasons we choose who we choose is because we connect with them. They say things in ways we understand and appreciate. They tend to focus their messages and writings on things we value and want to learn more about. Our reason for liking them, good doctrine aside, is personal. It’s subjective. There’s something about them we like. And that’s great. But we have to also remember it’s just our preference. Others are free to have their own.

When it comes to having unity in a church where there are many personal preferences regarding which teachers we like to follow (after Pastor Ryan, of course!), a key thing to practice is living a “both/and” life instead of an “either/or” life. For far too many of us, we begin to think, because he is “our guy,” that he (or she) must be right in everything he (or she) teaches (even on matters which are legitimately open to differing interpretations), and that if “your guy” teaches something different, he (or she) has got to be wrong. But what if they are both right, and are simply bringing a richness to a doctrine or reality that isn’t as settled as we’d like it to be? What if the truth is a combo burrito made of what “my guy” teaches and what “your guy” teaches? What if it’s “both/and” and not “either/or” way more times than we’ve ever thought?

If the people we follow and gather around by listening to their preaching and podcasts or reading their books and blogs, are preaching Christ crucified, are focusing on the cross and the gospel, and are teaching biblical Christianity, then we are in a perfect place to embrace the genius of “And.” You have your preferences, I have mine, but they are all pointing us to the same Person and to His message for us. And for that, we can be grateful.

Scott Smith
Connections and Growth Pastor

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