News of the rapidly growing church in the northeast reached the mother church in the south. Some reports disturbed seasoned leaders - suggestions that disciples there had introduced innovations, and that the congregation had achieved a first for the church - a majority of members were from a different ethnic group which had a vastly different cultural background than most Christians.
The older church sent a trusted evangelist to investigate. This preacher would hear preaching. He would observe interaction between the various ethnic groups within the fellowship. He would notice differences - clothing, greetings, diet - that existed among the members of the burgeoning young church.
The Bible records that Barnabas "saw the evidence of the grace of God" at Antioch (Acts 11). He approved, and he stayed to help these young disciples mature in faith. The church in Jerusalem would send other messengers; some would not like what they saw. Ultimately, however, spirit-led leaders like James, Peter, and Paul would join Barnabas in seeing the evidence of the grace of God in Antioch. That church in turn would sponsor the first extensive missionary forays into the Gentile world.
It's easy to criticize when one visits a new congregation. Subtle, and sometimes obvious, differences from home rattle and irritate us. It's harder, but much more exhilarating, to step back, take a deep breath, and probe for evidence of the grace of God.
Jesus and the apostles encouraged deliberate unity. Unity begins with looking for evidence of the grace of God.