Just some thoughts on the comments from my last post…
I feel that there are several strands to each of us engaged in church leadership. There is that part of us that must be obsessed with mission, and the communication of the good news of Jesus Christ. There is the part of us that is committed to discipling and developing others, helping our fellow believers grow in faith. Finally, I feel there is a part of us that must constantly be asking the ‘why, what, who, when’ questions – self-development as it were.
It’s in this final sphere that I believe we can and must apply ourselves to understanding God – yet I have no issues with saying that the more I ‘theologise’ the more I realise that there is much that I’m never going to get! What I struggle with are the simple, formulaic answers that church often gives to its members – “if you say A, then you must believe B, which will then get you to C”. Faith is not simple…it can’t be – we’re wrestling with the biggest questions of life!
If we believe faith is transformational, then surely we must believe in equipping our believers to ask these kind of questions. The more I think about preaching, the more I realise we can’t stand there and tell people what to believe, we must instead help them to develop the skills they need to engage with a God at a deeper level – which will be different for each believer.
To do otherwise is to elevate the preacher to the role of the Old Testament priest – the intermediary between man and God. My understanding of scripture tells me that Jesus has taken this role, and that each of us are now called into that royal priesthood…a priesthood of all believers. I guess there is a role within ministry of making sure that the journeys our fellow believers go on don’t start to clash with accepted doctrine or verge on heresy.
I guess what I’m saying is that while it is important to keep the message as simple as possible when ‘doing mission’, once the individual has opened their lives to Christ, a door is pushed wide open (call it discipleship) where they can ‘do theology’ in their own settings. I’m not trying to over-intellectualise our faith, but simply to equip fellow believers to engage with God in a way they find accessible.
I’m not sure how much of this is relevant to the debate, but it’s just where my thinking went. Finally, again I find myself agreeing with Graeme (see comment #6 on last post!)!