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

Employing standards of critical thinking

Written by: on October 10, 2014

With all due respect I think that critical thinking is an important tool to use in ministry and in board meetings. Some of the best decisions that you will make will come from other people rationalizing an issue from another perspective. More than that I am sure critical thinking is going to be critical while doing research and coming up with a ministry statement. Yet as a pastor it’s not the best way to deal with some of the issues people face in life. I think some people can get stuck in analyzing some situations and the situation does not warrant that type of speculation. And then on the other hand you do need to use critical thinking when one church member is trying to make you side with them against another church member.

I am interest in the standards of critical thinking. Clarity, accuracy, relevance, logicalness, breadth, precision, significance, completeness, fairness, and depth are important standards I wish I could convey to some of my church members. I find myself in situations often where church members want me to make a decision without some of those standards. It’s hard to sit them down and explain to them things like fairness. Most of the times they only want me to focus on their point of view and their perspective of a situation. Out of these standards clarity, relevance and fairness are three things I believe I need to bring out more to my church. I used the reading to see how it would benefit my church and from that perspective. When it comes to clarity I think sometime I need to elaborate further. Sometimes I don’t take enough time to make sure what I am saying or proposing had been made clear to everyone on their level. I have to make sure that that is my main goal and take my time with that. Secondly accuracy is important to me for my church. Testing things to make sure they are safe is important before I present them or I make decisions. At times I don’t have the time to do this and I find out later that the move I made was not the best decision and if I would have applied a little more critical thinking in the area of accuracy I probably would have made a better choice. And thirdly fairness is a standard I believe I got down but my church doesn’t. As I said before I have people at my church that are clearly interested in their own point of view and not others. I find it difficult to convince people that they are not being subjective in their views. It wears me out sometimes when you can’t convince a person to be fair in their assessment of others or of yourself.

I want to become an accomplished thinker. Where intellectual skills and virtues become second nature in my life. In the stages of critical thinking development this is the highest level of critical thinking. I think a lot of times feelings get in the way of thinking. Intellectual skills are so important because at times you may not feel the right way but using intellectual skills can aid you in making intelligent and right decisions that are not based on your feelings.

About the Author

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Travis Biglow

Pastor of Victory Empowerment Center. Regional Chaplain High Desert Regional Center Graduates Azusa Pacific University. Licensed General Contractor B. I am the married with one daughter, two grandsons and one step son.

18 responses to “Employing standards of critical thinking”

  1. mm Dave Young says:

    Travis,
    Maybe this isn’t the place but I really miss your generous spirit and good sense of humor. I learned a lot from how blessed you were during the advance. How you continually smiled at where God had brought you. You were a significant encouragement and example to me.

    It seems to me that there is a difference between tangible and intangible. Critical thinking helps us sort things out, rationalize and even makes things more tangible for others. Yet, the intangible can’t be lost in our pursuit for healthy critical thinking. That’s what I got out of your post. Thanks

    • Mary says:

      Travis and Dave,
      I too noticed in Cape Town, Travis, how much it impacted both you and Mona. You were continually interacting with others to discover what God had for you both there and back at home. And that makes sense as I hear the struggle you find yourself in with your parishioners. You have a shepherd’s heart that cares deeply for those God has given you in this season.
      May God continue to give you discernment, not only for your church but your own calling.

  2. mm Nick Martineau says:

    Travis,

    You make this very practical. Thanks.

    The place I keep coming to is for the Accomplished Thinker all these virtues and methods are second nature. Can you imagine being at that place? It would save so much time when talking with church members. I would be able to listen, process, and give feedback with grace and clarity. Our church members actually need us more then ever to be critical thinkers. We will never lead a church where the church issues don’t rise but I can imagine personally being at a place where I handle those issues with more ease, grace, and effectiveness.

    • Mary says:

      Travis and Nick,
      Yes, I too sense that desire for all this thinking to be second nature, where it comes naturally, especially in the hard times. I imagine posture can only occur when we keep practicing at it. Dang, I was hoping for that blue pill, or was it the green pill? (referencing the Matrix for you young-uns)

    • Jon spellman says:

      Nick and Travis. The place I want to be at in terms of critical thinking is where all of these things simply run in the background intuitively. I want to think critically without having to stop and decide to think critically. It should be instinctive.

      J

  3. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Travis, I agree that critical thinking throughout a church body is difficult. I experienced a lack of corporate critical thinking in one of the churches I started primarily because I did not make the decision making process/model know clearly to my team. While no one would have called it a lack of critical thinking in our church body, it actually was because how decisions were getting made was not understood by the majority. I have tried to help other many planters since then establish their decision making process with there leadership teams early on and I think it has made a difference in the thinking culture of those plants/churches. All that to say . . . I feel your pain!

    • mm Brian Yost says:

      Phil & Travis,
      You bring up some good points. Most of us spend a majority of our time working with people who do not think about how they think or how they make decisions. While some people in decision making roles may be open to overtly learning new ways to think more critically, many seem closed to the idea. Perhaps part of our roles as leaders is to find ways to covertly demonstrate and teach these skills to those with whom we work.

    • Mary says:

      Perhaps that’s why God had me join this cohort versus a few years back, so that I can keep praying for all you pastors. It’s not an easy job at all!!! May God continue to strengthen you in wisdom and love as you follow the call on your life to the people with whom God has entrusted you.

  4. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Travis, I think what Dave is trying to say up above is . . . he wants to hear another toast from you to one of the advisors! JK – but I do think that is one of the pointed times when we really so the awesome heart you have.

  5. mm Travis Biglow says:

    God bless you Dave you are an encouragement to me as well. Thank you for the comment and we do need healthy critical thinking. I don’t really have members now that I hash things out with from more perspectives than one. Im waiting patiently for the Lord to move and bless me with some people i can sit down with and make serious decisions!

  6. mm Travis Biglow says:

    Hey Nick,

    I hope i do get to that “high place” of critical thinking too. I believe that we are not bad though in how we think now. Im sure we don’t rush into decisions or make quick decisions based on inadequate information so we close!

  7. mm Travis Biglow says:

    Hey there Phil,

    Lol, I know the toasting generates laughter and joy lol. I really cant wait to have a board of directors who function like a board that goes to the think tank one day. I don’t get into pleasing people so some people don’t like you to explain stuff from a different point of view then theirs. But we have to find that common ground and began to teach them little by little the art of evaluating things from different perspectives. Blessigns Phil,

  8. Dawnel Volzke says:

    Travis,

    I enjoyed reading your post. Specifically, it reminded me of a person that I worked with once that had trouble making decisions due to analysis paralysis. I am a firm believer in data driven decisions, however there is a level of intuition that must come into play also…and we can’t forget about the guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit. We need a healthy balance of knowledge, intuition and spiritual direction. This being said, I think that knowledge comes much more quickly when we learn to think at higher levels. Our decisions will be more effective as we have automatically been observing and collecting input from multiple sources, with less prejudice and fewer assumptions.

    You are right on when you point out that many in our churches lack critical thinking skills, and often don’t care. Too many are close minded and refuse to even make an attempt to listen to those who have views different than their own. Many pastors have experienced difficult times leading their churches for this exact reason. I’m sure we all know of churches that are characterized by their close minded leadership and refusal to change. If their boards or leadership teams included a number of people with critical thinking skills, they might be more open to new ideas and better able to move the church forward in an innovative manner.

  9. mm Travis Biglow says:

    Thank you Dawnel,

    Yes, I am presently dealing with close mindedness with some of the hierarchy of my denomination. I cant stand it. It makes me sick to my stomach. I just hate that they think people are stupid by blaming a lot of stuff on the devil when they just misused funds or mismanaged things. Being upfront and honest is all people are looking for. Making mistakes are common place but trying to portray yourself as an elitist and forbidding input is to me a recipe for disaster at some point!

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Travis, sounds like a rough situation…I’ll be praying that people will be open, honest transparent so that the church can move forward for Christ. I’ll also mention that in these cases, I believe it is often helpful to bring in a third party or consultant to help sort through the difficult times. Often, this helps to keep the tensions down and preserves relationships and hurt feelings within a church. Sometimes, a consultant’s words or questions will be much more easily accepted than from those within the situation. I’ll be praying as it sounds like you have a lot on your hands…

  10. Mary says:

    Travis,
    You and Mona told me how you started at your church, but I never heard how it has gone since then in the growth that seems to have occurred. Sounds like you guys are moving from that “infant” stage to the “adolescent” stage where everybody wants to do their own thing (and add hormones, it can all go crazy). I remember someone telling me that teenagers need as much of that hug that stops temper tantrums as it does for a little 2 year old. Part of your critical thinking journey, I suspect, will be knowing when to let go and when to move in for the hug.

    • Jon spellman says:

      Mary and Travis. We’ve discovered that there is a lot of wisdom, when it comes to church plant development, in using the life-cycle metaphor. At each stage of life, a person goes through unique challenges and victories and so do churches. It’s helpful to recognize what those are so you can both prepare for and celebrate them when they come down the pike.

      J

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