Often times in ministry it is tempting to get caught up in merely the "practice" of doing ministry. We want to produce results. We want certain outcomes. We want to know the latest trends. We want learn the newest practices. We want access to the best tools. And although learning and being equipped with the best ministry practices is a good thing (a big part of what this blog is about!), at it's foundation must be a ministry leader that is a theologian.
Theology? Just the word makes many people's eyes cross. When people speak of theology, the words dry, irrelevant or boring come to mind. Unfortunately those words represent the way that theology is sometimes taught.
But theology need not be defined in such ways. Rather, theology is exciting, provoking, engaging, practical and transformational. That is what theology is and should be to those engaged with it.
Let me list 4 reasons below why good theology is vital to not only your ministry but to your spiritual health and life.
Good theology helps us truly know and enjoy God. The word theology comes from two Greek words that mean "the study of God." Theology helps us know God. But this kind of knowing is more than just knowing God in a rational and intellectual manner. Good theology leads us to experiencing and enjoying God and having Him shape our life. Theology therefore shapes and informs our attitudes, desires, decisions and motivations.
Good theology helps us see ourselves accurately. When we rightly think about God we begin to understand what it truly means to be human (John Calvin). When we rightly understand God we then can understand fully our dignity as human beings, but also at the same time, our falleness because of sin. When we lose sight of those truths, our view of ourselves and others becomes distorted.
Good theology practically assists us in every day life and ministry. You are a theologian even if you don't know it. Your theology informs has a direct impact on your ministry practice, even if you are not fully aware of it. Your theology will guide you on how you are going to practice ministry. It is therefore going to instruct you how you are, for example, going to comfort the parent in your church that has just lost their child. Or your theology will coach you on how you are going to follow up that new believer in Christ. Theology is practical.
Good theology provides the only lasting motivation for ministry. Ministry successes and failures will come and go. New paradigms for ministry will be embraced while old one will be relegated to the trash heaps. Ministry practices are ever changing and fluid, but good theology is grounding and becomes the necessary anchor in the midst of change.
Therefore don't neglect theology...good theology is ministry's best practice.
(thanks to my friend Keith Johnson for his contribution and thoughts on this subject)