DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A shared toolbelt

Written by: on November 29, 2018

Grenz and Olsen’s Who Needs Theology? presents the idea that all believers are theologians.[1] Each interacts with theology at different levels: folk, lay, ministerial, professional and academic. Of course, the layman does not engage theology in the same way the academic theologian does, but they should engage nonetheless. I appreciated the authors’ point that theology is accessible to all believers, not just those who rely on the study for their vocation. Everyone needs theology, and it should be engaged at multiple levels.

 

I found this reading especially interesting in light of the previous read, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice.[2] It seemed the chapter on “tools of the theologian” echoed some of the tools mentioned in the Handbook. Grenz presents three tools used by theologians: The Biblical message, the heritage of the church and thought forms of contemporary culture. He discusses these tools in terms of “molding our theology and indicating the shape our theology ought to take.”[3] Isn’t the same true of our leadership? Good leaders are often described as being of single purpose and philosophy, aware of the context of their organization within its history, and willing to engage the current climate to shape the organization.[4] Of course, I understand there are obvious differences between the theologian and the leader. One spends time in the divine mystery while the other gives thought to productivity and culture. However, perhaps the theologian and the leader are not as far from one another as we might initially think. I wonder if their tools would look similar if observed side-by-side.

 

Grenz states, “The goal of theology is to be the believing people of God in the world today.”[5] As Christian ministry leaders, isn’t our goal to lead the believing people of God in the world today? How should we borrow from the theologian’s tool belt as we engage a chaotic world with a beautifully messy gospel?

 

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[1] Stanley Grenz and Olson, Roger, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996).

[2] Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010).

[3] Grenz and Olson, Roger, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God.

[4] Nohria and Khurana, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice.

[5] Grenz and Olson, Roger, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God.

About the Author

mm

Rhonda Davis

Rhonda is passionate about loving her Creator, her wonderful husband, and her three amazing sons. She serves as VP of Enrollment Management & Student Development at The King's University in Southlake, TX.

8 responses to “A shared toolbelt”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Rhonda, I think the next book on heroic leadership will unpack the connection between theologian and leader. The story of the Jesuit movement is a story of integrating theology as values that determine the nature of leadership and it’s outcome. Personally leadership is little more than a word that describes the multifaceted nature of ‘directing others’. Biblical theology with a decent hermeneutic creates the foundation from with leadership leaps. So I guess the question in Christian leadership is, how much theology does a leader need? And, is that theology a dogma held or a way of thinking about dogma? In leadership, is theology primarily a verb, adjective or noun?

    • mm Rhonda Davis says:

      Digby, I am looking forward to this reading. I love your question, “How much theology does a leader need?” For ministerial leaders, it seems there are very different opinions on this depending on church tradition.

  2. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Good questions, Rhonda. As I was reading and considering my research I found myself focused on the importance of the history of theology, and the significance is also true for the history of organizations. Leaders often talk about a vision for a preferred future but in reality, that vision is in peril if it is not born from a vision of the past. How we see where we have come from and the understanding of how the past has shaped the organization is critical to envisioning the future. I see the same in how the historical shaping of theological beliefs is imperative to their engagement today.

    • mm Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks for your comment, Tammy. I hear leaders talk a lot about seeing the end from the beginning, which is good. However, the beginning they are referring to is most often their present situation. It seems we need to take a look back to the true beginning, in every sense…organizationally as well as theologically.

  3. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Rhonda,
    I love your title and concept of a shared toolbelt. Since my focus is the local church, I believe pastors desperately need to acquire and continue to enhance this shared toolbelt. The also need to influence others to develop a shared toolbelt. That is, for those that seem to be too singularly focused on theological development, they should also give attention to leadership development (and vice versa.) Again, thanks for this helpful concept. Blessings (how is your ankle?), H

    • mm Rhonda Davis says:

      Good point, Harry. I agree. Let’s not ignore one to develop the other. Have you seen positive models of this? I would love to hear about them.

      Thanks for the concern for my leg. Turns out I have a partially torn ACL and some major cartilage damage in my knee. However, I am grateful for no surgery right now! It’s a slow go, but I’m on my way to recovery.

  4. Mario Hood says:

    You have raised a question that goes well with my topic in asking how different (or the same) are theologians and leaders (in the church). While both may have different roles, both share the same space, at least I think they should.

  5. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    I love the title of your post, Rhonda. You noted that the author focused on tools of theology and that he discussed the tools in terms of “molding our theology and indicating the shape our theology ought to take.” Then, you related that to leadership, which was a great comparison. And I can certainly see how their tools could look very similar in many ways. “A Shared Toolbelt”… I love it! Thanks for your enlightening post, Rhonda.

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