Year End Review 2014-2015
This has been an amazing year of growth and discovery. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I assumed the program would be similar to my Masters program, I was wrong. While there are some similarities, the volume and breadth of exposure is significantly different than any of my previous experiences. The first thing that I had to change was my habit of reading everything. When it came to processing the wealth of material presented to us, I had to embrace the simple truth that we can’t read everything and we immediately begin to forget that which we have read. While this has been a difficult reality to swallow, it has also been liberating and allowed me to process more material that I ever have before.
This year has been a year of re-thinking our role as Christians. I have been confronted with the thought that, “Christians cannot ‘change the world’ in a way that they, even in their diversity, desire.” James Hunter states that, “For Christian Believers, the call to faithfulness is a call to live in fellowship and integrity with the person and witness of Jesus Christ. There is a timeless character to this call that evokes qualities of life and spirit that are recognizable throughout history and across cultural boundaries.” Rather than trying to change culture, we become a presence within contemporary culture that bears witness to the reality of Christ.
Through the varied readings, I am beginning to better understand the interconnection between culture, theology, economics, politics, social theory, etc. To ignore one is to lessen our understanding of the others. The phrase “everyone is a theologian” has stuck with me throughout this year. Ford says that it is easy for both the Church and the academic community to ignore the that “religious and theological concerns are essential to many debates about politics, law, economics, the media, education, medicine, and family life.” We are all theologians and our theology affects what we believe and what we do, both individually and as a society. No one is theologically neutral. As we think about God, we adopt and develop theology. Our theology affects all areas of our lives and society. At the same time, our culture speaks to our understanding of theology. We need to do a better job of defining theology for those with whom we work and help them see that, “Good theology… brings the theoretical, academic, intellectual aspect of Christian faith into Christian living. In so doing, theology becomes immensely practical-perhaps the most practical endeavor one ever engages in!” As a pastor, it is easy to assign theology to clergy and academics, forgetting that each person who walks through the doors of the church or live in our local communities lives by their theological views. Theology is not something to ignore or neglect, it is crucial to who we all are.
As I continue to research my dissertation topic, I am continually challenged to narrow the topic, but at the same time, I am developing a greater awareness of the way in which culture, theology, and the other areas previously mentioned must be taken into account to more fully understand my topic. The answer is not simply to present a “correct” philosophy of missions. I must take into account ones understanding of theology, economics, etc.
One key area of which the importance has been reinforced for me this year relates to my person leadership development and my approach to leadership in general; It is the continued need for mentoring relationships. I echo the words of Max De Pree, “Mentoring has become, for me, one of the chief duties of any leader.” I need to continually put myself in a place where I am being mentored. At the same time, through building mentoring relationships with others, I can lead in a way that empowers others.
 Pierre Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read (p. 7). (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.) Kindle Edition, 47.
 James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 5.
 Ibid., 197
 David Ford. Theology: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 2013), 17.
 Ibid., 17.
 Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, Ill., USA: InterVarsity Press, 1996), Loc. 376.
  Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art (New York: Currency, 2004), 11.