CBF Podcast: Gary Mason, Rethinking Conflict

By Andy Hale

“You are just preaching a Democratic agenda,” a former church member told me. Puzzled by such a bold and accusatory statement, I asked a few clarifying questions. This person insisted that they’d rather me stick to the Bible than a political agenda from the pulpit.

I tried my best to pastorally explain that I would never use the pulpit for a partisan political bent, but that I believe down to the core of my existence that I am preaching the Gospel on Sunday. I added, “The thing about Jesus is that, despite our best efforts to shape him into our political worldview, it just doesn’t work. Jesus transcends our ideologies.”

America is divided on just about every possible topic that you can consider. This discord has spilled over into the church, stretching the already strained relationships within most congregations.

The theological diversity within most congregations is challenging. But where most congregations could find a civil way to dialogue about our differences in the past, most people seem to be waiting for a reason to leave one church to find another that fits better into their worldview.

And if the church can find a healthy way to be peacebuilders, what hope do we have for the world?

We sat down with one of the leading conflict reconciliation thinkers, Gary Mason. For the last 40 years, Gary has been leading peacebuilding efforts in Northern Ireland.

Gary is the founder of Rethinking Conflict, an organization dedicated to building bridges in some of the world’s most challenging communities.

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This podcast episode is brought to you by Youth Theology Network, Fuller Seminary, and The Center for Congregational Health.

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Andy Hale is the creator and host of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Podcast. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

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