In a recent article for Pastors.com, Brian Jones points out that you don’t have to choose between pragmatism and theological scholarship. He points out four steps his church has taken to protect the theological integrity of his church:
1. Part of the screening process for paid staff members, as well as potential elders is a questionnaire with an extensive list of theological questions. That sets the tone right from the start, letting any potential team member know we are just as interested in their understanding of the Arminian/Calvinist question as we are in their ability to cast vision.
2. Our staff reads books together on a regular basis. From time to time we’ve inserted business books like Good to Great or Organizing Genius into the mix. Just as frequently, if not more, we’ve read books such as James Dunn’s Jesus’ Call to Discipleship. Soon I’m going to have everyone work through Michael Green’s Evangelism in the Early Church. His first two chapters should be required reading for any staff.
3. We’ve laid down the expectation for all ministry staff that furthering their theological education is essential and mandatory. This is particularly important for churches that have a staff such as ours who were all entirely hired from within the church. Of course, because it is mandatory, the church pays for it. However, we think this is an investment that will pay rich dividends for years to come. In 2016, I’m hiring a retired seminary professor to lead one-day intensives for our staff, every other month, on different biblical and theological topics.
4. We purposely try not to dumb our services down theologically. In yesterday’s sermon I quoted German theologian Martin Niemoller, went into the Greek origins of a word in a passage, and shared a story from the “Confessing Church” of the Nazi resistant movement. A non-churched, irreligious, spiritually blank-slate guy walked out the door, winked at me and said, “Best one yet.”
Brian says, “As a pragmatist, it’s just been my experience that people far from God, as well as those within the flock love being a part of a church that is focused on going deep as much as it is wide.” (Read the full article here.)