Yesterday we began an ongoing, intermittent series to ask prompting questions about your embedded theology. Our practices, including styles of leadership, preaching, and evangelism are formed by theologies that are often unconscious to us. This series aims to help you, as a spiritual leader, to dig up and discover some of the theological beliefs that lie hidden, embedded in your theology from experience, tradition, study, and other inputs. The questions come from church planters and practical theologians who have wrestled through these questions.
1. What is your theology of creation?
Our theology of creation emerges in ways that we cost and use a variety of resources. Should we invest in environmentally friendly products at a higher cost? What values are found in this practice? Should our events leave room for simple clean up, even if it increases our trash? (Should we be washing dishes or using disposable products—and, by the way, what does disposable mean?) Both of these questions will impact the use of financial resources and the nature of various events and how well they might scale. How will we market and what materials best capture our beliefs about God and the world?
2. What is your theology of contextualization?
Contextualization is the adaptation of the gospel message and the adjustment of ministry practice to reach a particular culture more effectively. It has its roots in missiology, but is becoming an increasingly important topic in our diverse global community. To what degree should a ministry be designed uniquely to reach one’s current context? Why would contextualization be important? What aspects of ministry should change in order to contextualize well? What aspects of ministry should not change no matter what? What part of one’s theological history and framework leads to a particular style or design of ministry? Assuming one has a developed theology of contextualization, what would be considered overcontextualization? What would be considered undercontextualization? How should one handle cultural issues that do not violate biblical morality, but run against the grain of one’s larger denominational expectations—particularly when the culture is quite different than the denominational majority culture?
What is your theology of spiritual formation?
What does it mean to be formed in relationship? When do people start being formed spiritually? This becomes very practical, very quickly: Do children benefit from being part of corporate worship or is it more important that they have a delightful experience so the parents will be motivated to return? Is a both-and / hybrid model possible? Do parents benefit from their children joining in worship despite cultural norms about children being distracting or distracted in public spaces? Do young people grow spiritually in the presence of older Christians who may have hearing pain when the music is too loud or the multi-media experience too intense?
This article is part of a series exploring the church planter’s embedded theology. Check out the introductory post here.