As I have been doing this thing called Youth ministry for a while I have come to understand something more and more every week. Having theology training and thinking about how the theology I learned is playing out in a local context is extremely important to have a healthy ministry. Too often I think ministers and members of a local congregation get into trouble when they ignore theology or come to it after the fact.
I have spent time over the years sitting with other youth directors discussing our frustrations in ministry at our congregation. Most of the time I think we have gotten into trouble because we didn’t think through theologically what we were doing. We have gotten into a new model of ministry, or spent time at conferences or read a psychology book about culture and spent time trying to put that into our ministry or life without thinking about theology first.
One time I was talking with a Pastor friend of mine about ministry and the training we have all received. I was voicing frustration about the way we are trained and how Pastors, teachers, and DCE’s are missing important things to do ministry well. I thought we should spend more time teaching them the particulars of ministry. His response was that in 20+ years of ministry, the theology he learned has served him much better than any accounting, management or psychology class. The theology shapes what we do and how we do it.
So what is the point? Well the point is we all need to spend more time in the word, more time thinking about theology, more time understanding what we believe. That should be the first thing we understand. I know I need to spend time in the Word and theology books to understand the theology of God. I think sometimes we spend too much time in the other stuff of ministry, programs, self help books and curriculum. If we are not firmly grounded in our faith and theology we will just wander around and never be fully grounded in God.
Thinking about things theologically can also have a huge impact on our daily lives as well. My prayer for all of us is that we think theologically before we do anything. We spend time in prayer and think of our whole world from the basis of our theology. May we all continue to be theologians as we walk with our great and amazing God.