October 19, 2016 — Comments are off for this post.

Unpacking Community – Dust

Still moving through a series on community, this post is a bit of a rabbit trail into some thoughts on how discipleship and youth ministry fit into my theology of community. I hadn't planned on writing it but the inspiration hit.  

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September 23, 2016 — Comments are off for this post.

Unpacking Community – A Thesis

In part two of my series on community, I lay out a thesis of sorts to give a bit of a backbone for the rest of our conversation. This will be necessary for understanding where I go with the rest of the series. 

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April 18, 2016 — Comments are off for this post.

Eucharist Moments

"From it's very beginning, the church has found our identity in being welcomed to a common table and breaking bread with other followers of Jesus."

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May 15, 2014 — Comments are off for this post.

Theology Over Doctrine

Confession: I've spent the last 48 hours immersed in a fairly substantial theological debate with myself. The topic, why is Jesus God and does it even matter? 
It's got me running down all sorts of fun mental rabbit trails and writing furiously in my notebook. I've been obsessively flipping through books and jumping through scripture like I'm researching a talk or writing a paper. I even texted a couple friends asking what they think.

In the process I realized something about myself,

I prefer theology to doctrine.

What exactly do I mean by that?

Well, it all comes down to what I'm talking about when I say theology and doctrine. Here, theology can be understood as the study of the nature of God; where doctrine is defined as a belief or set of beliefs held by a religious organization. Turns out the two, while similar in theory, are worlds apart in practice.

Where one is dynamic, the other is static. Where one is flexible, the other is rigid. Where one you actively engage in, the other you passively adhere to.

Theology is exciting to me.

It brings new life to my faith and pushes me deeper in my ever-expanding awareness of God. It invites me into a larger conversation with all sorts of other people asking the same questions that I am, exploring God together, and interacting with all those who have come before us.

Doctrine, on the other hand, has no room for any of that.

Instead of a conversation, doctrine only offers repetition. Rather than welcoming questions, doctrine insists on conformity. While theology is like going on a journey, doctrine is more like being sent to boot-camp.

That's what I mean when I say I prefer theology over doctrine.

It's also my personal conviction that if we hope to engage this generation in spiritual matters we need to invite them to do theology with us, not just hand them doctrines from us - which it turns out is a really hard thing for most of us operating inside the institutional churches to accept. Probably because we're so afraid that our doctrinal conclusions will somehow be compromised that we're unwilling to explore the questions that brought us to them in the first place. The only problem is that these are the same questions that young people are asking whether we want them to or not. Our role should be to help them discover how to answer these questions for themselves in a safe space that embraces the conversation.

After all, this is a generation that has been taught to 'show their work' and 'cite their sources' since grade school. They're hard-wired to figure out how to get to the answer. Simply knowing the conclusion doesn't come close to cutting it for them... and it shouldn't be satisfactory for us either.

Sometimes I wonder if the real reason that those of us within the church fear theological conversation with this generation is because we only know how to recite the doctrinal statements that we've been taught. We're well-read on leadership principles and business models and however many habits highly successful people have these days; but we're theologically shallow. So we avoid the questions because we have no idea how to get to the answer.

How did we get here?

I believe it's because we've let our reliance on doctrine replace our need for theology. It is far easier to just be told what to think than it is to learn how. I'm just not sure the cost for our complacency is worth it and I'm certain it won't be enough for an entire generation of young people who desire to be part of the conversation.

Oh, by the way, if you're wondering which of the two you prefer, just note your reaction when I first told you I was asking if Jesus was God and if it even mattered.