Theology as a Basis for Ministry
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Theology is the clarification of convictions by which we engage in ministry. In the first 600 years, the leaders of the church resisted having a gap between the study of God and the service of God (theology and ministry).
Theology as a Basis for Ministry
A. New believer to think rightly about God
B. Help people develop good spiritual habits
C. Life transformation
A. Daily content
B. Sermon summary
C. Discussion about conversion
Course: Theology of Ministry
Lecture: Theology as a Basis for Ministry
Have a look at your syllables. Let me just go through it and describe the course here. In one sense, this is old. In one sense, this is new for me. When I did some adjunct teaching here back in the 90s while I was pastoring a church on the East side, I developed a course entitled ‘Theology of Ministry’. And then I was gone for a number of years. Doctor Sweeney [phonetics] has taught this course and developed it himself and now we are starting to share that responsibility.
So, I’m coming back to teach it again but approaching it in a lot of different ways than I did. So in a certain sense, this is a new course. As it is a new course for you, in many ways it is a new course for me but let me start with the course description.
Ministry is built upon sound biblical theological and cultural foundations. Each regeneration of the church must understand and build on these foundation as well as discover relevant contemporary innovations and applications. This course intends to help you integrate an understanding of the Word and the world with the development of a personal philosophy of ministry.
A lot there in that statement but that’s what this course is about. Here's some of the objectives in particular we’ll hope as a result you’ll be able to identify theological foundations upon which you will build and evaluate a lifetime of ministry. Number two, you develop a personal philosophy of ministry which is grounded in sound theology and can be tested in the practice of ministry. Number three, note the nature and mission of the church, being able implement a Biblical based philosophy of ministry in various contexts and cultures and then number four, evaluate, excuse me, identifying and evaluate a variety of contemporary approaches to ministry.
So those are… are the four pieces of this that we’ll try to do over the next few weeks. The course requirements is mastery of course readings which I will talk about in a moment with some assigned papers, probably I should say. Attendance at all classes. I hope you’ll be here unless you have a crisis or emergency or something. Completion of one paper that presents your personal philosophy of ministry. It should be between eight and ten pages. It should include the main themes covered in the course. Though when I say the main themes, I really want you to write this for you, something that will serve you out there so that when people sometimes interview you, want to know your personal philosophy, you can say “well, you want a copy, here this is… this is my philosophy of ministry” and then a cultural investigation. I like you to select a significant ministry or minister, that’s not only just church context but I want you to select someone or some ministry and determine it’s or one’s philosophy of ministry and do a critique using class discussions and reading as a basis to evaluate and submit a two to three page paper.
We are going to try the… I like to have each of it, maybe take a few minutes and just say, “Okay, here’s what I did.” I’ve always been very interested with Hivo’s [phonetics] ministry at Willowcreek, always wanted to see philosophically and what drives him and so as I research, I found basically this is what his philosophy is and then critique it; don’t just report on it on the paper but what you’ve learned along the way and hopefully something’s in this course, what’s good, what’s not good.
On the readings, I’ve got two major books: Andrew Purves, Pastoral of Theology in the Classic Tradition. Why did I choose this book? And I chose this book because I was introduced to Andrew Purves a couple of years ago, not personally but in this book here. I selected him because he goes back to some of the early church fathers who I’ve grown more and more in fascination with, who really understood ministry right at the beginning, the turn into the first century, the second century and he writes in a way that it’s readable and I think it’s really interesting in fact.
Probably I’ve assigned this as well because when I was in seminary, I received next to nothing on Classical ministry. That is ministry of early church fathers and I’m just really, in the last two years, discovering some of the depth and some of the profound things they understood about ministry. I have tended to and maybe you might identify, tended to always look for what’s relevant. Look for the latest book and sometimes, I have in that realized that I have missed some of the very best thing written on ministry, not written in 2005. They were written like, 105.
So this is more of an introduction, just to whet your appetite and then on the other side of the coin, D.A.Carson’s newest book I think, “Becoming conversant with the Emerging Church”. I selected this book because I thought this would be sort of a good modal in example, or at least will help us in how do we look at contemporary ministry and try to theologically evaluated because that’s what this class is designed in part to do to help you to get your theological bearings, and then say, “Okay so when we see various voices come along, how do we evaluate it?” Whether you agree with Carson or not it isn't so important to me and this class. What is important is to say, “Here is a working theologian who is looking at contemporary ministry and getting his own evaluation of it.” And so it just serve as an example for us and hopefully we will then listen to interesting discussion. So these are your two readings.
By the way, if you find yourself earlier liking Andrew Purves, he teaches at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He’s just come out with a new book, “Reconstructing Pastoral Theology”. Its… I, I’ll say a lot more dense. It's not easy reading compared to this one here but just so you are familiar with him.
Okay, course schedule. We’re going to try to introduce it a little bit in our time, thinking theologically about ministry and then… then we’ll move to look at the center of ministry and in particular look at how Christology influences ministry. Here’s the key, I’m just going to build on that. To understand ministry, whatever we… ministry we do, we have to go back to the foundation of a minister or a ministry and that’s Christ and looking at the broader context of the Trinity. We’ll move from there to talk about the identity of minister here’s what I wanna talk a little bit about clergy, laity distinctions. Some of these things, we just need to sort out.
In a certain sense, we’re all ministers and another sense, we are here training for ministry. What’s the difference? Is there a difference between those two? There is the clergy; there is the chaplain; there is the counselor; there is the laymen. How do we sort that all out in terms of our philosophy, our theology of ministry? So, I’m gonna talk about that and spend another week and talk about the… what are the modals that we can find out there that helps shape our central identity as minister?
Because we all need to have a working modal in our minds, of who we are, something we can use as a reference point from time to time. To underscore the importance of that, it was about the mid-90s when I was in Europe that I came to a crisis point in my own life where I remember one day sitting there, asking myself, “Who in the world am I?” Everybody calls me pastor but what is a pastor? And maybe you haven't had that crisis point. I don't necessarily expected that you have but after a number of years, you might have the same crisis point I did.
And here’s the deal and I’ll stress this later. If you don't come to grips theologically with who you are, you allow yourself to be defined by everybody else and believe me in ministry, if you haven't discovered it already, everybody loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
And they don't really all love you but they still have a plan for your life and they have an idea of who you should be. They have an expectation of who you should be no matter what ministry you’re in and if you don't sort out who you are so that you can say, “Well, I’m sorry that’s not who I am” or “You know what, that’s who I am.”, then you are going to fall prey to all kinds of voices that might distort your ministry. Then we’ll talk about the nature of ministry itself. What is ministry? And that’s what we’ll focus on the [09:47] nature of the term itself.
And then I want to talk about the mission of ministry. There is a lot of discussions today about what is the mission. So let’s just make sure we’ve got that very clear in our minds so that when we go out and do ministry, we know our mission. Because you know a lot of people, I don't think who are in ministry, know what their mission is. So we’ll think that through and then we’ll talk about the context of ministry and that’s what we are going to talk about the church and the parachurch and how they relate one another. How they should relate?
I spend a number of years in my life spending parachurch ministry. This is a parachurch ministry. I have one foot in church ministry and one foot in parachurch ministry. How do they relate? Is one really parachurch? When I was in Beirut recently and I had a really good friend in Beirut who’s had an operation mobilization and the church is so dead and so much of Beirut or so bound in their traditions that when I mentioned off-handedly, I think describing this ministry one day as parachurches, I say, “We’re not parachurch. We’re a church.” I haven't thought about that. Is that right?
How do we define some of these things? We’ll talk about that and then talk about the requirements for ministry. What is it that God requires? What are the essentials? And then the resistance to ministry. If we’re gonna be in ministry whatever category we’re in, we’re going to have resistance, stiff resistance. We need to understand what that resistance is. Why i’s’ there? A lot of times I was blindsided early on because no one really helped me to understand theologically, what I was up against. If I had known more, I think I could handle it better.
Alongside what is the power? What is the power? What is the authority we have in this ministry? What is it God’s given us? And maybe some of us are not exercising. It’s there and its just sitting there. And then the measurement of ministry, how do you measure ministry? How do you measure success? How do you measure failure? And then the glory of ministry, I like to take one class just to talk about the glorious side as well as the inglorious see of ministry because ministry has both sides, doesn’t it?
Part of ministry is I get to be in the best seat in the house in certain things. I mean the best seat when it comes to weddings, funerals, I mean in some of the most significant events of life for me as a pastor, I see it closer than anyone else. In a way part of it is glory but there’s also some very inglorious sides of ministry and then we’ll try to look at some contemporary modals and maybe we’ll look at some voices out there, whether it’s McClaren or Rick Warren. We’ll just look at ministers and ministries and just say, “Okay, so what we’ve learned here in this class, how do we measure them?”. Let’s see where it goes.
Today is just meant to introduce the subject a little better and talk about it. And so here’s are a few things I just want to say here. All of us have a ministry philosophy I mean, whether we realized it or not. It’s not like you’re coming to this class to learn a philosophy of ministry. I think what we’re all going do here is refine, rethink through but we all have a philosophy of ministry of some sort and it flows out of a lot of things. Principally, it flows out of our experiences with people, with the Word of God, with God Himself and our experiences with him.
For example, if someone would ask you, based on your experience so far and what you’ve seen in God’s Word and people voices, books that have impacted you. Someone says, “So what’s your philosophy ministry?” I’m not asking you to give me a detailed paper at this moment obviously, just give me a seed thought. Give me something, you say I think this is my part of my philosophy anyway. What comes to your mind?
Male Speaker 2: To minister His Presence, to make God more visible.
Okay. A ministry of presence. That’s an important part of what you’ve come to realized is your philosophy. Yeah. David Hanson in his book on Pastoring, sees himself as a parable of Jesus. That’s how he describes his philosophy of ministry. What else? What defines your philosophy? Yeah?
Female Speaker: Part of mine would be to train and equip people with these experiences.
Okay, and I’m going to take it perhaps part of it has come out for example, understanding more clearly what Ephesians 4 is saying. So what you’re saying is, you know, here’s my philosophy. When I’m out doing ministry, I am not so concerned about doing everything and having an audience watching me. In fact, that would be anything but my philosophy. My philosophy is I’m gonna come and find faithful people who want to be taught and I’m just going to pour my life and equip them. What else? What have you gained at this point in your pilgrimage? Brian?
Brian: The glory of God through the church being an incarnation of Christ-like. So maybe incarnational living in pastorals and in churches?
Okay. And why that might again be obvious. There are a lot of people that don't really get at that as a philosophy of ministry, that we are primarily to be incarnational, that is the goal to flash out Jesus as opposed to, if you take a guy like Micahel Frost “Shaping of Things to come”, that says a lot of churches are attractional by orientation philosophically. Do you know what it mean by attractional? What do you think that means? What does he mean?
Brian: What can we do to get them here.
Yeah, what can we do to get them here. Let’s put on a big production, Let’s have this on, let’s make it so we can attract people whereas incarnational philosophy of ministry is more about how can we get out of these walls and be Jesus out there and get them to see Jesus there as opposed to get them here. Those are two different philosophies. What else? Yeah, Diana?
Diana: Do you mind the word consist of long way. I want
Can I just kind of maybe underscoring here, of equipping, influencing others. Since that’s your philosophy, then that’s gonna define how you are going to do a lot of things which is the whole point of philosophy of ministry. Give me two or three more. What comes to your mind?
Okay because some people almost wouldn't think philosophically, that’s what my philosophy of ministry is about because they aren’t relational. When you say relational, and help me here again, Philip when you say that, tell me a little bit more about what you mean.
Philip: Kind of have impact on someone about Christ.
So church say that cost you maybe in youth ministry and they say, “Look you know, we’re looking for someone who’s not so much going to be focused working with people. We need someone to design programs and give a strategy.” Your philosophy might say that really doesn't fit who I am and what my philosophy of ministry is.
Yeah, right. It’s just that they have to make sure that you get room for that. A couple more. Your philosophy of ministry. Yeah?
Mark: It’s going to be relevant in their culture.
Okay describe that a little bit more, Mark?
Mark: You were preaching in this room where you have your congregation, I think if you were not taking into consideration the cultural setting between these students here, I think you’re missing the mark here. You’re preaching people in your own generation but your student are generation also and the next generation that you got in your congregation. I think that’s relevant.
So that drives your philosophy then…
Mark: Function is going to be the same but I think that you need to adapt to your form possibly to meet the style of the younger generation.
Jack, you’re gonna…
Jack: Just going to say for me, a major part of my ministry is healing by helping those who needs healing…
Yeah, because of that what’s going to drive a certain amount of your ministry is approaching people with the fact that generally, I know that they’re hurting and a big part of ministry is soul care and I’m here to minister to their soul. So whether it’s preaching or whatever, if we’re not getting into that place then philosophically, I’m not really the ministry. Drew maybe chaplain, right? What are you starting to realize as you go into that role that philosophically you need to make sure that you really have now?
Drew: It’s really in serving. Anybody can be but by service, I mean those guys, especially the part of equipping. That’s basically, part of this equipping, putting it together.
JL from another side is an Army chaplain. What is it that you’re going to make sure that you have philosophically got down about ministry before you’re engaged in that role full time?
JL:… cultural, philosophical mindsets. Truly and there are some and I think that conflict makes faith in turn, very relevant and so some of the works are already done, it’s just being a piece of Christ in the midst of chaos and tell them that they can have it.
Yeah, now take that one other side and that is, not just working for those whom you are ministering to but working amongst your peers or those who have authority over you. What is it that you are going to fundamentally work through philosophically there?
Male Speaker 3: I think everything was more conserved. We need to have this now because there’s going to be a point where someone may not agree with me theologically, they maybe a sphere in mind and they may request of you to do this, do that, you know, any type of… [mumbling]
Right and that gets back to philosophy of ministry, doesn't it? Or gets back your theology of authority.
Male Speaker 3: Be willing to say that if that’s the case then I will accept whatever things might be because I feel that strongly about it.
It was a good exercise for me I was thinking about this here and I was thinking what philosophy, what pieces have gone into my overall philosophy of ministry? When I first went into ministry, I’m not sure I was… in fact, I know I wasn't aware that I had any philosophy of ministry. I mean I just was campus ministry and start out but I began to realize pretty quickly that at least in those days in San Diego, a youth for Christ there was an under… understood philosophy of ministry that when you went on campus, you went after the movers and the shakers. You went after influential people. What was the driving philosophy do you think is behind that thinking?
Mark: You get them to help you.
So it was kind of ingrained in us? You know you go out there and you find student body leaders or athletic leaders or just leaders in different areas and you just that was your target, that’s where your focus and you were driven by philosophy that’s said if you can get them, then you’ll get a whole lot of others. So right or wrong, that was a philosophy and that begin to get ingrained in me at the beginning. Tim LaHaye was my pastor growing up and I was thinking whether I realized it or not, he was imparting in, in me. He did something to his credit.
I was a 20 year old college student and I used to sit in the front row and I just throughout the sermons can’t tell you exactly why but he just always seem to speak where I was at. He began to build in me a philosophy o ministry of connection. If you’re going to say something, you know, connect with people, be relevant where they’re at and he really did that.
When I came to seminary, a part of my philosophy began to really deepen, it has to be a ministry of Word and that’s one of the things that I always value about this seminary because it was just built in from the start. That Word is, not that its everything but its just most, most everything I mean if we don't get that part right, then a lot of other parts don't get right.
Where the Word is clear, we must be clear. Where the Word is silent, we must be silent. We develop some of our philosophy on some negative examples too and going back to Philip, you were mentioning the relational side. My first experience working in a church base I have been a campus for five years and then I was in seminary and I was youth pastor in a church and I worked for the most impersonal pastor, I think I could imagine who would just have absolutely no personality, no room or time or interest in relationship or friendship. I looked back and I don't know how did he ever get into ministry but he did. And he was pastoring one of the larger churches but he was mister impersonal. And I watched him and I learned from that. I saw people dying for relationship you know and a lot of what you as a leader impart from your life and so begin to make the church not completely, but impacted the church to become a certain extent more impersonal.
And I remember it really drove him eventually out of ministry and I’ll never forget, it was his last night, they had a little get together and had this kind of long line to say goodbye and he knew I was preparing for ministry. I was going to seminary and I remember I looked at him and I said. I just shook his hand and I remember he looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said, “Ministry is hard.” That’s all he said but in a way, he made a lot of it hard because he did not want to invest in a relationship.
And do you know why he didn't want to invest in relationships? Maybe part of it was because he didn't really listen very good. It wasn't natural, it wasn't part of this temperament or that. But I remember he said this to me and I said, do you have any friends here? And he said, “No, I don't have any friend here.” and I said, “Why don't you?” and he said, “Well, if I have any friends, I will be accused of,” what do you think?
Male Speakers: Favoritism.
Favoritsm. That planted in me something philosophically cause I thought you know, if I don't have any relationships in ministry, I’ll die. Now you can go too far with that, I know but if anyone accuses me, I think I will be prepared to say, “We all need people. We all need friendships, we all need relationships. If you’re saying I cant have that then how am I in the world going to very balanced to minister to you?”
So that begin to plant something within me philosophically. My first ministry is an associate pastor. I worked with a pastor who I will be grateful the rest of my life. He had this philosophy that if we’re going to do this thing, we’re going to do it together. We’re going to do it together and it was truly a team. It wasn't like a lot of pastors who go, “Okay, now I’m going to expand to have an associate pastor, I got to find a list of jobs for him to do and just kind of stay out of my here you know, don't get in the way.” Build this compartment, we’ll evaluate your every year, maybe we’ll have a relationship, maybe we won’t.
I had the exact opposite and it was so great. It planted a philosophy in me and to this day, my philosophy in ministry is we’re in this together. We’re on a mountain, we’re in the valley together. We’re in this whole thing together. Somewhere along the way, someone imparted and I don't know, I think it was a combination of voices so learning posture is a philosophy of ministry.
I’ve observed and watch this. When people get into ministry, if they don't keep learning and in fact, I think you have to get more intentional about learning, you start to die. Right? And you really start die and that’s in fact what really scared me. When I came to Weston in 2000, and I was out of pastoral ministry for three months, I began to feel like after three months, I was becoming irrelevant and it really scared me and sometimes people said, “Why are you pastoring a church and you have plenty on your plate to do this?” Part of it is because, because I know that if I keep learning and I keep going through the fire and all the stuff there that maybe I’ll… at least you’ll know that I’m in this thing and its not just theory and textbook stuff.
If I can be a little bit personal for a moment, I feel like I’m one of the most blessed people in my life because I get to do everything I love. I don't do a lot of stuff anymore that I hate. You know, it doesn't start off that way so don’t wanna say it will be that way because.
But what seminary has done for me in this role is that it teaches me to keep learning and reading and stretching and I’m a lot more effective in pastor I think because of that, I know that I won’t be near a shark. Somewhere just ingrained to keep learning because if you stop learning, you’ll die. When I went into a doctor program at Dallas Seminary, Dwight Pentecost, I always remember this when we were all together and I shared some of this with you and we were…
It was our first day of the seminary excuse me, in THT program, and so a number of doctors and students were feelin’ you know, rather more important cause we made it to the top of our educational career and I remember Dwight Pentecost, he looked at us and he said, “Well, man just in case some of you are getting a little bit puffed up. Let me just say this. When you enter into a doctoral program, you just simply move from unconscious ignorance to conscious ignorance.” You know how you remember things somebody says something and it just you know, you go on, I’ll never forget, I’ve never forgotten that.
He said something that entered into my philosophy that I’ve determined to be more consciously ignorant as the years go by and I am you know, I think I am. The more I learn, the more I’m in the ministry, the more I realize how much I don't know. And when you first get out of the seminary, you don't feel that way. You feel like you’re going take on the world cause you know everything and I remember my first church, this big German man came up to me, put out his big hand and he said, he said, “I want to know are you going to take stands on things?,” and I said “Yes.”
He was one of these rigid types, that wanted to be dogmatic on everything and now I wished you know, with the years, I’d like to have said, “Well, I’ll take stands on what I know is clear but let me just say to you that there are a lot of things that are very unclear and very mysterious and if you ask me to take stand on those things, I will not.” Part of conscious ignorance that just got planted philosophically in my brain.
It was George Barnett who really planted in me philosophically in ministry you always have to have a vision, a dream. You got to know where you’re going. The moment you don't know where you’re going, you’re dead again. You have to lead towards a direction of vision. Something out there that says this is where we have to get to and at the moment you don’t, you’re just going to end up, if you’re not careful, doing what? Yeah, you’re just going to be flying circles. Doing things and not knowing why you’re doing things and ended up protecting, preserving the status quo cause there are a lot of ministries out there you know, will come woe our status is quo, sort of their banner.
You, as a minister; I, as a minister have to come in and upset that. That just got ingrained in me philosophically. Maybe that will happen to you. If I think about philosophy of ministry, perhaps one of the most influential voices for me has been Eugene Peterson, pastor a church for 29 years in Maryland. Probably no larger than 25,300 people. One of the greatest writers about ministry that I know and I’ll never forget the first day I read his first books… one of his first books, “Working the angles” in which he said these opening words, “Ministers are leaving the ministry in droves. Their names are still on the door but they left the ministry.” And then he went on to define what they left. That always stayed with me because I don't want that to happen to me.
Whatever philosophy we emerged with, the point is we got to have one and that’s what this course is about. Because philosophy will provide the framework. It will screen the ideas; it will help you make decisions; it will help you to decide where you spend your best time. Your philosophy of ministry will help you to decide this is what I’m giving myself too. This is where my best passions will go to and where they won’t. It will help you to answer questions like “Do I focus on my weakness or mainly on my strengths?” That’s a philosophical shift that I went through and maybe some of you have gone through. I used to think philosophically that as a minister, I should always be showing up my weaknesses until I realized one day that that is stupid. I’ll always be weak and those, most of them anyway and I’m far better at devoting myself to those strengths.
Do I tend again towards shared leadership or do I prefer clear lines of authority? Sorting out philosophy will make us think those things through. So this is what this course is about, shaping a philosophy of theology, laying the groundwork for shepherding people, shepherding ministries. And the aim is that we do that with some pretty critical thinking.
Now let me move to the second question there, and that is, second segment, that is why build a theological foundation? And here is some reasons. Number one, theology is what forms the lines and shapes the angles. This work provides the framework. Theology by its very nature attempts to systematize and look for a cohesive, consistent grasp of the whole. As I tried to work through my theology over the years, then everything I approached have to go back to that theology so whether I’m dealing with the issue of divorce or whatever I deal with, it has to go back to my theology because that’s what theology is about. It’s about trying to fit things in kind of a systematic whole.
Each part relating to the whole part and that’s kind of what a philosophy ministry is trying to do. It’s trying to make sure that if I do this, it’s consistent with I’m doing over here, it protects me from becoming inconsistent. It's asking how does each part relate to the whole? Making sure that whatever I do is consistent with other pieces. Part of my ministry is a leader, is consistent with a philosophy leadership that goes back to Jesus. It’s consistent. This is what a theology of philosophy of ministry does. It helps us to make sure we’re consistent. Is my counseling consistent with my view of scriptural authority? That's a question we make sure we’ve pondered and thought through.
When I get engaged with this person in dealing with an issue and I am counseling, where does Scripture come in to that? My philosophy will help answer that. Is the energy by which I’m doing ministry consistent with the energy of the Holy Spirit? Is the nature of how I view time consistent with my eschatology? Those are the kind of questions every now and then we stop and ask ourselves. Someone put it this way, “Theology is the clarification of convictions by which we engaged in ministry.” I’ll say that again. “Theology is the clarification of convictions by which we engaged in ministry.”
And again, we see that modal. Paul writes to the Romans and he spends the first eleven chapters essentially establishing what? Theology, right? He does the same thing in Colossians 1 and 2, Ephesians 1 though 3. Paul wants to make sure that the church understand its theology before he moves into its practice.
So in Colossians 1 and 2, as an example, he lays out perhaps the most marvelous statement on Christology. Versus 15 to 20. And why does he do that? And you begin to understand as you get later into the book, he’s going to call them to a radical lifestyle of following Jesus. He’s going to define Christ follower is and they aren't going to understand that if they don't have a clearly defined Christology. He’s going to call them to a resurrected lifestyle. But they are not going to get that unless they understand theologically that they’ve been resurrected. In fact, and I don't even understand this, by a long shot, when he in chapter 3 of Colossians, he says we have a… set your mind on the things above where Christ is seated and where who else is seated? We’re seated. Do you understand that? I’m sure I do but in a certain sense, I died with Christ, I was buried with Christ theologically. I’ve been raised with Christ and I’m even already in a certain positional sense already in heaven with Christ and yet I’m still here.
So Paul is weaving theology and practice. Always in his writings to say to you and to me that when we go out there and do ministry, it has to be a combination of always weaving theology in practice. And our practice is always defined by our theology, not vie versa. Christology becomes before living Christ and Numetology becomes before walking in the Spirit. And ecclesiology must be understood before doing ministry. And theology proper precedes everything. For ministry originates in God. It is shaped by God.
In a very fundamental sense and we’ll talk about this more next week when we start with our theology of ministry, the fundamental question is who is God? Because God defines ministry. He is the essence of ministry; the example of ministry, everything starts with that point. All that to say that to do ministry, we must first be theologians in a certain sense and I like how J.I. Packard put years ago. He said, “Theologians have the role of detecting and eliminating pollutions. They are the churches sewage specialist.” That’s what theology mixed with ministry is doing, always looking for the pollutants and always cleaning things out.
There is a second reason for building theological foundations and that is, is theology what’s guided early church? The early ministry of the church and so that’s why I’ve given you Purves’ book as an example. He will show us that. When you go back to the early church, there was not this gap between theology and ministry. I mean they were one and the same. And history has sort of perverted it and distorted that but at the very beginning, a theologian was a pastor for example. A pastor was a theologian. There wasn't this gap between the two. So somewhere between a hundred, six hundred, most theologians were bishops. They refer to themselves as theologians like Chrysostom and Gregory. It was just integrated in their identity and they insisted that their ministry must build upon a theological foundation.
Male Speaker 4: When was that?
When you look really in the first hundred years or so. They understood that. I’m kinda overstating the case here a little bit not just everybody was that way but they allowed no gap between the study of God and the service of God but this began to change. This began to change in part with some of them when they began to escape to the monastery. And then in a certain sense begin to escape from the ministry and a gap began to widen between practice and theology in a certain sense.
So you have guys like Chrysostom and others who literally fled at time from ministry, who just wanted to be in the cave, wanted to be behind the walls and that gap also began to widen with the influence of Renaissance and the Enlightenment when men and reason became more elevated.
Think with me for a moment, what did that lead to? In terms of… we’re talking about this gap began to grow. What was that influence in history? What did that begin to do in ministry?
Yeah, there began to be this gap between the enlightened, the act of the dormitions, the theologians and the ministers and it began to grow and the line between academic theology and practical theology was drawn by academic faculties in Europe and then it was sort of exported overseas to America. I'm overstating a little bit. This is not true in every situation but in Broadsweets [phonetics] you had ministry and you had theology and where once they were united together almost one and the same, this gap began to grow maybe starting with a desire to escape and then when we began to become more immersed, and more impressed with our learning, and began to close up in our ivory towers, and practical theology soon found that the bridge that connecting the practical to the pure theology was constructed by a one-way traffic.
Practical theologians did not have the union card and we’re not admitted to the theological guild. And we still, I think see a bit of residue of that today. Part of the reason, I’ll be very honest, when I went and did my doctor work in a certain sense, I wanted to have the union card. Now it wasn't the main drive, it wasn't certainly only the whole reason but it’s a little bit of that because that is the union card in a lot of teaching today.
And sometimes in that mentality we have this again gap between theology and ministry. I drew up the doctor of ministry program here and if I’m in some academic circles, there’s a little bit of sniffing at someone who hasn't gone through the disciplines of German and French and a lot of the other hoops we have. Well, I’m starting to learn actually is that I’m working with these students in the last five years that, you know they do a pretty impressive bit of hard work too. It’s just that its practical which doesn't require thinking. No, it actually requires a lot of thinking. There was somebody who raised their hand back there.
Paul: That was me. I was wondering if there were any examples that you had of the time period where so called union card took place and if somebody wasn’t kind of… and what that looked like.
You know somebody described it kind of like this, Paul that theology sort of shoved ministry to the margin a little bit by saying you know we’re just more interested in theology over here in the academics and the training and study of it and began to look down more on the practice side of it or not giving very much interest to it and in a certain sense then ministry has returned a favor if that makes sense. I don't necessarily have an obvious example of that.
Paul: In today’s ministry?
Well, I wouldn't say today, I think we’re still living with the residue a lot of it. When I start really getting interested in practical theology, pastoral theology, I discovered that basically in the 1900’s at least in the early 1900’s through maybe up to almost about the 1970, the best practical pastoral theologies were all about helping therapeutic counseling ministry. It’s very hard to find a pastoral theologian because in one sense, this gap had grown and theology in a certain sense said we’re over here in our towers and we’re kinda divorcing you and in a certain sense, ministry has kinda return the favor to say well, we’re divorcing you.
Where do I see maybe examples of that is sometimes maybe we’re all in a pastors conference and I’ll hear speakers on stage sniff at seminaries. “Hey, don't go to seminaries, they’ll ruin ya’,” you know, that kinda talk. Where is that come from? You know, I sit there and go “What? what do you mean?” Well, it’s where now we so push now practice… elevated practice as everything that we’ll learn on the job as we go. We’ll develop and mentor people here. The academics don't get involved with that, that’ll just mess you up. Is that fair to say it?
You’ve seen that at times and illustration sometimes, I’ll go maybe every other year maybe two, ETS, Evangelical Theological Society and who’s that made up of?
Male Speakers: Academics?
Academics, mostly academics. So I get this big book for all the presentations. I have to look really, really hard to find anything that has any relationship to ministry in the church. I mean I will like find five papers and go, I think I could take that into my ministry. All the others are like, I don't have a clue what you’re talking about or I don't see any relationship. Now is there a place for that? Maybe. I guess there is. Looks good in credentials but the… that’s probably not fair to say but you have ETS over here, going back to the illustration. That’s all about that then I’ll go to pastor’s conference over here where they’ll kinda look at the theologians over here and go, “Those guys are idiots. They don't understand ministry.”
When I first started as pastor, this is what I hear from my peers say. They go, “If those guys at seminaries would just get their act together and understand what we’re really facing and prepare us,” and then I come over in the academic side and I hear sometimes professors go, “Gosh, I wished those pastors would just get it right. They do so many stupid things.” Can’t we all get together?
Just all get on the same page? And then in a sense, this is kind of what this class is all about. How do we get those two together and take the very best from each other? So, we’ll pick up from there next time because time is up.