Where Theology And Ministry Meet
In a recent commentary, R. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, talks about the vital theological task performed by the pastor within the local church:
"The pastoral calling is inherently theological. Given the fact that the pastor is to be the teacher of the Word of God and the teacher of the Gospel, it cannot be otherwise. That teaching is done on both the congregational setting and a personal one as the body watches the pastor and his faith in action. The idea of the pastorate as a non-theological office is inconceivable in light of the New Testament.”
Mohler stresses that the pastor's stewardship of the theological task requires a clear sense of pastoral priority. This must be foundational to the pastoral ministry of the local church, and our ministry must emerge from a fundamentally theological foundation. Whether we as pastors are preaching, teaching, leading, or counseling, our theology will guide our methodology. And, in the same manner, whether we are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, or simply living life in front of our community, theology will shape our family and friends.
In a very real sense, Christians live out their most fundamental beliefs in everyday life. One essential task of the pastor is to feed the congregation and to assist Christians to think theologically, in order to demonstrate discernment and authentic discipleship. The pastor must give attention, study, and time to the theological dimensions of ministry. A ministry that is deeply rooted in the truths of God's Word will be one of great success. The pastor's concentrated attention to the theological task is necessary for the establishment of his personal life, a faithful preaching ministry, worship, effective evangelism through the congregation, and relationships in the community.
Here are 4 practical ways to place theological strength at the center of your life as a pastor:
1. Dedicate at least 18-22 hours weekly to the study of God's word. This is one practice of mine that has driven my children's ministry, my youth ministry, the years I spent as an evangelist, our ministry as church planters, and now my teaching ministry. If you do not schedule significant time in the Word of God, the ideology of the culture will shape your ministry. That is a dangerous place to be.
2. Annually attend a conference on ministry. Some of the greatest moments in my 27 years of ministry have been at these conferences. District events, Billy Graham Evangelistic Conference, Society for Pentecostal Studies meetings,
3. Personally build relationships with another pastor or leader outside of your theological bend. A monthly mentoring meeting will yield great results from one great mind to another. Another opportunity similar to this would be to involve yourself in the area ministerial association. You will experience great conversation from all kinds of theological world views around breakfast or lunch.
4. Finally, try an online or local university course in theology.
Theology and life really are symbiotic. The marriage of biblical matters and everyday life is crucial to the building of the kingdom of God. Without accurate and practical biblical teaching, the church will be under-developed and ineffective against the rise of post-modern thought. Sound practical principles can protect your pursuit of biblical authority as a pastor. Take your study and theology seriously and you will see supernatural spiritual formation and outreach at your church.