DMINLGP

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

Embrace Research

Written by: on September 6, 2018

I love research.  Not just my own – but I love reading and evaluating others research.  Research is deeply entrenched in my personal and social work values. In the social work field, professionals are increasingly seeking information about evidence-based practices (not only for best practice, but also out of necessity to accommodate funders). New resources are emerging to help practitioners connect research to practice. “The term evidence-based practice (EBP) was used initially in relation to medicine, but has since been adopted by many fields including education, child welfare, mental health, and criminal justice. The Institute of Medicine (2001) defines evidence-based medicine as the integration of best researched evidence and clinical expertise with patient values. EBP is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience, ethics, client preferences, and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services.”[1]

So imagine my delight when I opened the Theology of Leadership Journal and discovered that the journal is committed to publishing research –

…research contributing to a Christian understanding of leadership; analysis that contributes to an understanding of leadership in all spheres of cultural influence; scholarly work that uses a variety of methodologies; biblical support drawn from both Old and New Testament; qualitative (including exegetical), quantitative, and mixed-methods submissions are encouraged; from all branches of historic Christian faith.[2]

Much like the field of social work, the field of ministry (preaching, teaching, and counseling, developing and leading) should be concerned with “best practices” in their discipline.  While it’s a paradigm shift to be comfortable in relying on research vs. relying on faith and biblical knowledge, the Theology of Leadership Journal presents several convincing cases intersecting biblical tension and leadership practices. It may even match my respect of the literary work Jesus, CEO by Laurie Beth Jones.

The New Testament book of Ephesians is one of my favorite. It is fully relevant in ministry leadership today. Ephesians (written by Paul in formal text) shares an important message for Christians in their faith, and in their practice. Paul’s main premise is that a true life of faith and devotion to God will organically change a believer’s actions and lifestyle (the importance of maturing faith and living out that faith). It’s fascinating to me that the modern day faith community can’t even agree on exactly what lived faith means, Some denominations are hyper focused on morals (i.e. consumption of alcohol, premarital sex, and homosexuality) while others are focused on social justice (caring for the poor, refugee aid, being in community with the vulnerable and oppressed). And then there are those (I know of one in my community in fact) that are focused on keeping “biblical principles” of banning women in leadership intact in their congregation.

It’s even more complicating when you dig into Ephesians deeper and see that there are some important verses defining Christian roles – Ephesians 4:11-13 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the works of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” What do these role “labels” mean today? I think that is the relevant question. Clearly God is ordaining gifts and talents (spiritual gifts) as a believer’s lived faith

I am intrigued by the writings in Luke regarding women. When churches deny the gifts and talents (preaching/teaching/leading) of women in their congregation they are ultimately rejecting scripture – and are compelled to only receive scripture that serves their agenda.

According to Green, Brown and Perry, authors of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Luke uses women in multiple illustrations acting in multiple roles. One of the authors’ most profound statements is this: “Luke features more female characters than any other Gospel, but the numbers do not tell the whole story. Here we especially encounter something of a “double message” regarding women’s roles as both dynamic prophets and silent hearers of the world; both patrons and clients of the Jesus movement…Luke may be struggling to strike the proper balance between Jesus’ liberating gospel for all persons and prevailing social structures in Greco-Roman society.”[3] This statement absolutely confirms my interpretations of Scripture.  Jesus’ gospel is liberating; social structures were not at the time so Luke (et.al) wrote scriptures to somehow balance the cultural influence with the Godly influence. How can church leaders present this understanding of the gospels in a way that patriarchal churches will receive?  I’m not sure I know the answer to that, except to say it’s crucial for egalitarian men to stand up and speak truth into the gospel. By nature, men will likely receive it better from other men. In the meantime, women must use their voices to push back against distorted Biblical interpretation which oppresses women.

I am always pushing believers to pay attention to theology that the church holds on to. Is it biblical? Is it rational? Would Jesus agree? Can you really justify this theology personally and spiritually? Personally, I am offended by the church’s belief that my gifts and talents may not be connected to preaching/teaching as an elder or pastor. Every Christian should be paying close attention to the book of Ephesians. It’s an important guide book for every Christian – new and old – and an important reminder that Paul’s writings are relevant to ministry every day “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16.  Don’t let the evil one lead your theology astray.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.socialworkers.org/News/Research-Data/Social-Work-Policy-Research/Evidence-Based-Practice

[2] http://theologyofleadership.com/index.php/tlj/about

[3]       Joel Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Nicholas (eds.). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press) 2013. pg 1009

About the Author

mm

Jean Ollis

14 responses to “Embrace Research”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Jean,

    I appreciate your writings and I appreciate you! Obviously, our topics this week were connected with each other, but on different ends of the spectrum. First of all, I never want to oppress you in any way. You would be welcome to preach and teach in any of my churches, at any time. I would want you to use your gifts, and I would want you to lead well. You could Pastor one of my churches, too.

    I am searching for how we could have common ground in our discussions. Can we both be Biblical? Or am I truly guilty of the closing statement, “Don’t let the evil one lead your theology astray.”

    I am sorry that my Blog this week will be terribly offensive to you. If I would have read yours first, I would not have posted mine.

    Most of all, I truly care about you Jean. I hope we are still good friends in spite of this issue…

    Jay

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Jay, please do not worry about your blog – I love good spirited discussion and I respect and value your thoughts…of course we will remain good friends!

  2. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Jean so good. Thank you.

    I recently heard a comedian say, “wouldnt the Bible just be better without those parts?” He was referring to the verses that oppress women. Of course, as you know, at the time they were rather liberating and elevating for women. But now they lag behind. Many who do not udnerstand the full context have found these verses as a stumbling block. Its a shame. It reinforces me drive for proper “research” into these verses. when need more good theology.

    and to be clear, I do not think the Bible would be “better” without those verses. BUt for our current day, it demands more explanation and delicate care.

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Thank you Kyle for approaching this challenging topic with a desire to seek and understand “explanation” of God’s intentions all the while using delicate care. I agree! It’s a hot topic for sure, but I appreciate the open-minded 8’s being willing to talk about this in love. Can’t wait to catch up!

  3. Hey Jean, thanks for this. I need the practical research on this issue to come to light in France, and in Europe. While churches here want to to push this issue onto the back burner, prioritizing evangelism, they don’t realize that modern women would not hear a complementarian gospel as “good news.” This issue is critical (not secondary) to how we share the Gospel!

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Jenn! I’m so anxious to hear more about the European use of complimentarian ministry – for some reason I assumed they were ahead of the bar. Not so? Either way, this topic would make a spirited discussion for our Zoom chat tomorrow. We all have strong thoughts and questions on this topic. I’m guessing you will need to address this same issue as you look at international missions?

  4. mm M Webb says:

    Jean,
    Greetings my good friend! I missed you over the summer.
    I appreciate your introduction to EBP and how evidence-based practice can add value to our leadership journey with LGP8.
    I am with you on Paul’s themes and messages in Ephesians. I am a student of Paul’s Armor of God doctrines and as you know will focus my dissertation research on the problem with spiritual warfare. I am going to add EBP to my list of research, survey, and findings sections of my work. While the 1st century writing of Paul set the stage, the battle between good and evil, the schemes of the Devil, and the influence and impact of spiritual warfare against the believer is still being worked until Christ’s return. These are exciting times for LGP8 and I look forward to joining you and our team in advancing our individual and collective efforts to further God’s Kingdom and spread the Gospel to the remaining peoples who God wants to touch with the choice for salvation.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  5. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Jean,

    I too love the book of Ephesians, as a pastor it is a great reminder for myself that I don’t have to do everything, he has called many and if they are not listening to the call I have to help them hear God. I know we fall on opposite sides of women as pastors but maybe not as far as we might think. I have served with many women in other ministerial positions other than head pastor and they have always been great leaders. I am not sure I will change my position of the head pastor but I am willing to listen and hear the other side of the argument (I hate that word argument). I will say this I have been taught by both men and women and the only thing I ask of either is to be true to God.

    I do appreciate having my beliefs challenged and thank you for that.

    Look forward to seeing you in HK.
    Thanks
    Jason

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Jason! I’m excited to connect in more depth and discuss in Hong Kong. I know you have excellent insight and experience and a spirited discussion will help us all discern God’s plan for women.

  6. Hello Jean…

    A few of us had a great conversation after church this morning about how our theologies must keep evolving. If it is the Living Word, it is not static or entrenched, but rather organic, growing, and continuing to put forth shoots and leaves and fruit.

    Take, for example, doctrines on divorce. In my lifetime, most churches have surrendered a rigid interpretation of this ban, and opened up.

    My sons’ generation is now challenging my perspectives on environmentalism. How do we live in this world in a sustainable way? How do we love the planet God has given us?

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Mark,
      Hi friend! You are so right that the younger generation is seeing all kinds of things our generation has ignored. We have been busy being hyper focused on certain issues. Can’t wait to chat about his further.

  7. Greg says:

    Jean,
    You often have topics and write in such a way to spur discussion. Thanks for that. I agree with Kyle that as much as I dislike the scriptures in the Bible with seemly a derogatory reference to women (because like Jason said, we don’t like to argue) I know that this challenges us to know and understand the Word better. It also makes be think of the stances that I take on our “living theology” (as Mark references) to understand if they are stances that keep me comfortable and support our own agendas or would be they stance the Jesus would take as well. I am on the journey with you all.

  8. Jean, what a great blog post and you already know that I couldn’t agree more with everything you are saying and it grieves my heart along with yours that the church is missing out on 50% of the population just because of their gender and other’s views of their roles in the church. Your passion for truth and your insights into scripture were brilliant. Grateful to have you as a leader in the Body of Christ.

  9. Dave Watermulder says:

    Dear Nerd,
    I was grinning when I read your opening line to this post about loving research. I really appreciate your clear way of thinking and communicating about things that can be complicated. You set a high bar with how much knowledge and insight you bring to your posts and this is another example of that. Anyway, just to say, thanks again and I will see you soon.

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