For a couple of hours every Thursday morning over the last eight months, fifteen or so of our staff and lay leaders have gathered to study Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology together. It’s really a glorified book club where we discuss our reading assignments each week (okay, there’s a little teaching here and there. I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself). This Thursday is our last meeting and it’s caused me to reflect on our team’s time together.
It has long been a conviction of mine that training in systematic theology shouldn’t be only reserved for those who preach in pulpits or have seminary degrees, but any and all who claim the name of Christ. With that said, we surely should help those who lead our major ministries (e.g., children, students, small groups, etc.) establish a solid foundation doctrinally. I believe systematic theology should be a rudimentary part of that training. Most of us wouldn’t go to a doctor who hasn’t studied gross anatomy or other fundamental medical courses, yet often churches put people in theologically-sensitive leadership who have little to no theological training. It doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, actually seeing this happen in a local church takes work.
For my church, we needed to start with our staff and some select lay leaders. So, we took those who had completed our inaugural leadership development process (meeting monthly for nine months) and invited them to what would become the next step in our leadership development process – systematic theology (meeting weekly for eight months). Over that time we laughed, cried, prayed, wondered, shared stories, and grew in our love for Christ and his work of the gospel. I’m not much of an early-bird, but I truly looked forward to our 7-9AM meetings each Thursday, expecting God to work in our hearts and minds in ways that would glorify him, refine us and build up the church. I believe he did exactly that!
So, this is a post thanking our “Foon Sped” group (sorry, inside joke) of 2009-2010. From the first day to the last, it has been a blessing and pleasure to have led these men and women. Hopefully our call to help others grow theologically won’t end. Not only will we have systematic theology available for those completing Year 1 of our leadership development process in 2010, but we challenged those finishing systematic theology to begin their own study groups within their respective ministries because, ultimately, we want every follower of Jesus at our church to have an opportunity to learn “Systematic.”
- How impacting would it be if every one of your staff was trained in systematic theology?
- What kind of confidence would it instill in them?
- What would it communicate about your care for their development both personally and ministerially?
Ours took eight months but, I can tell you, it could have taken eighteen and it would still be worth it. Here’s our reading schedule (a simple Word document you can edit). Give it a try with your staff, ministry or small group and see what God does through it!