In the Christian church, the word “churchmanship” was used to honor moments in church life when those who disagreed over an issue were able to pull together and move forward. (It is a sexist word seldom used today).
This word was used often at church council meetings when there appeared to be a consensus developing on an issue. Churchmanship meant working together was more important than holding exclusive positions that held hostage the work of ministry.
Yet, too often we have failed to find consensus in the church. True to human nature, “if it ain’t my way, it’s the highway.” The church can do better, with the help of God! Our failure to work things out caused great schisms that divided us as people of God.
For example, Judaism and Jesus in 33 CE; Judaism and Christianity’s inability to hear Muhammed’s story and the subsequent turning of his face away from Christians and Jews toward Mecca in 600 CE; the 16th Century Reformation and the denominationalism of American Protestantism, to name a few big ones.
Thankfully, the Lutheran World Federation (itself a sign of churchmanship) and the Roman Catholic Church though years of official ecumenical dialogue overcame the primary dividing theological issue between the churches from the Reformation when they issued the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” in 1999. There is hope!
In our divisive political climate, “churchmanship” would be a worthy goal for our elected officials as they work together for all of us. Actually, “churchpersonship” might just become the wave of the future - nah, not with President Donald Trump setting the tone!