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OPINION

BIBLE STUDY: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curriculum and additional resources for all age groups.
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This week's Bible study is adapted from the YOU! curriculum.

Bible Passage: Acts 15

Discussion Questions:

-- How can churches deal effectively with disputes in a way that protects their mission of lifting up the name of Jesus?

-- What role can you play in helping your church deal effectively with disputes?

Food for Thought:

People bring baggage to church. Personal preferences, private agendas, past hurts, heritage, prejudice, family background, culture, ignorance and anger -- just to name a few. Baggage can become obstacles that create disputes within the church. Do we realize how often that happens?

Have you ever been in the middle of a dispute with a church leader, ministry member or fellow Christian, and realized:

1. Why am I so worked up? I don't even know or care that much about this topic!

2. Maybe I'm wrong ... but it doesn't matter. I'm going to fight to the bitter end. It's my way or the highway!

So many times in these disputes, it seems we latch on to our positions like they're our children. Our baggage gets so tied to the ideas we're representing that we take criticism or disagreement personally and forget about the real mission of the church.

Some people avoid acknowledging conflicts in the church. And while disagreeing is not necessarily wrong, if not reconciled, it can create sharp divisions and hinder the church's ministry. That's why, in Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas chose to confront the problem rather than avoid it.

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Satan is going to put obstacles in the church's way to try to keep us from achieving our mission of lifting up Jesus to a lost and dying world. A church's goal must be to resolve conflict and encourage Christians to move beyond any baggage that isn't absolutely essential to staying on message and on mission. After all, God holds us to a higher standard.

YOU! curriculum

Intentionally focused on urban and multicultural believers, YOU! is biblically based with culturally relevant lessons to help people connect, grow, serve and ultimately be engaged in impacting the world for Christ. This flexible, non-dated all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals and teaching plans as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.

Other ongoing Bible study options offered by LifeWay for all ages can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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