I want to just list some of the themes that seem important to me. Maybe some of these will get expanded into complete posts, maybe you’ll convince me I need to add others or remove some of these. They are not yet in any particular order.
- Local Theology: I think it is critical that we develop Christians who are interested in and able to do theology.Too often it seems to me that we pretend that all you
need is a Bible and interpret it how you like. Now I place far to high
a value on the Bible to accept that. Spending time reading/studying the
Bible and using it in our devotional lives is really really vital. But
so is actually engaging in theology to make sense of it. The Bible cannot be used as a jigsaw of individual verse sized jigsaw pieces where every piece is identical and can be assembled any way we like.
- Small Groups: I don’t see anyone saying that small groups are not essential to growth as a Christian, getting good groups going and sustaining them is not quite so trivial
- The Pastoral Cycle: Understanding and using the pastoral cycle within our individual lives, in our small groups and in our Churches seems to be one of the most useful tools to come out of Practical Theology. Maybe this should just be part of what I mean by Local Theology, but it is so useful that I quite like to see it as a headline.
- The Whole Gospel: I get worried about bad theology, about teaching that leads people astray. I blog about these issues frequently. It seems to me that a key way to help protect people from bad teaching and theology is to make sure that you are a whole gospel church. This is vital to ensure balance and perspective. It is far too easy to become a single issue church or preacher. Suddenly everything is about the need for male headship or penal substitution or sex. But instead we need whole gospel perspectives so that we stop missing the bigger picture or the 27 other issues that are just as important.
- Enabling, Empowering, setting Free: Alan Hirsch talks about this in terms of multiplicative growth rather than additive. Personally I think it is far more of a gospel imperative. Consider the Jesus worked with the disciples and set them free.
- The four legged stool: I have talked about this many times. But without a proper balance of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience all bound together in a community with accountability you are going to be lost. I want to see this embedded in all the ways we are Church (in a sense latching onto Hirsch’s idea of mDNA) so that we can multiple authentic Christian communities.
- Different: I believe that the gospel demands that we stand out from the world. sadly to often we stand out for the wrong reasons. We stand out because we condemn instead of love, we stand out because we are static and not dynamic, … For me the differences will be about inclusion, challenging all the idols of this world (money, sex, power, possessions, self, …), standing for justice for all, demonstrating mercy and forgiveness.
- Leadership: I challenge the view of our leadership that we so often see. Our leaders should be servants, they should not be rich, they should not be seeking fame and fortune, they should not be honoured above anyone else, they should not be expecting or offered worldly symbols of power and authority (private jets, mansions, lack of accountability). They need to be replaceable, I do not believe in Minister/Pastor focused Churches so the leadership needs to be inclusive of the Church Membership.
- Prayer: In once sense I don’t want to separate prayer out. I far prefer a model where everything includes prayer, is guided by prayer, was planned with prayer … But it can’t be taken for granted, we need to ensure that prayer is fully there in the heart of all we do. That means all prayer not simply intercession. Holistic prayer in all we are and do.
- Accountability: I guess this has been at the heart of many of recent discussions. Every part of the Church needs to be accountable. A great deal of what we see of bad theology, bad mission, bad community is exaggerated by bad accountability. Note this does not have to mean an authoritarian, patriarchal system.
Just a few starters to get the juices flowing. What is important and what is not?