Separating Theology From Methodology
We’ve all been there. Flipping through the channels on a sleepless night, attempting to drown out all the thoughts with senseless infomercials. And, for a moment, we might even be tempted to give in:
- Maybe that’s all you need to do to lose weight.
- I wonder if that stuff could flex enough to seal the baptistry?
- A panini would be good right now.
- Yes! I am finally getting those washboard abs.
But, long before dawn, you come to your senses and realize there are no easy fixes or one size fits all solutions, and you dodge the bullet of 3 easy payments of whatever.
It’s a similar feeling I have experienced at church/leadership conferences lately. I hear the great success stories, I am moved by powerful testimonies, and I find myself believing that if I just “do that” everything will finally fall into place. Yet, nearly 30 years down this road of ministry, I can assure you of one thing: we all need more than a conference quick fix.
The problem is a mindset that there is an answer, and we just need to go on a treasure hunt to find it. We all know that the only ‘solution’ is the presence and the movement of God, but it doesn’t keep us from pursuing the gold at the end of someone else’s rainbow.
That’s a hamster wheel that I invite you all to get off right now.
One way to break that cycle is to separate theology from methodology. One we hold firmly with a tight fist, and the other we must hold loosely with an open palm.
Theology requires a tight grip because there is a right and a wrong, there are dangers and errors, and there is a true orthodoxy that must be remembered, revered and relived in each of our lives and ministries.
But, methodology… that’s a different story.
Never forget that everything we do in the church today was once brand new. Always remember that missionaries need to minister contextually, and you are a missionary. Continually keep your eyes open, heart receptive, and ears tuned to what God is doing; it may be different than what you are planning.
Let me give you an example.
I pastor a network of rural churches called CrossPoint. In the last 19 years, we have grown from one declining congregation of 100 plus people in a single location to a network of 13 sites with more than 2500 attending weekly.
We have grown by revitalizing our original location, planting new sites and partnering with existing ministries to replant.
We have become a video-driven, rural, multisite.
I have written all of this just to drop that last line on you. If I am right, every word of the previous description probably caused you to pause.
Video-driven: “Ah, a tv preacher. That would never work here, and it’s probably of the devil anyway.”
Rural: “Really? I bet they aren’t really rural. He’s probably just a poser in a town that has their own Walmart.”
Multisite: “Yeah, no.”
I know these terms and methodologies are struggles for many, and I understand. The reason I know this is that I did not move my family to the middle of Kansas to pursue these “models of ministry.” I came there to pastor a church and follow God’s leading.
In the process of reading the context of the community, seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit in decision making and making the most of every opportunity, this is what we became.
And, whenever I share our story, I am always careful to say:
“What we do is not THE way to do ministry. It’s not even the BEST way to do ministry, necessarily. But, it is A way.”
And, that is my hope for you. A hope that you would not be locked into a model or be a believer in a methodology. Just be open to the fact that God will lead you in your ministry, mission or replant in a way that might not seem normal, but it could be just what you need!
That’s all for now. I have to finish my insane cardio workout before I warm up some nutritional system food and get snuggied up on the couch for some infomercials. Shamwow!