I just read this article yesterday, “Why Theology and Youth Ministry Seldom Mix” and now I’m wondering what we would say Theology does mix with? Or does the study of God always hang out in its own category – in the same coffee shop where people who study God hang out?
Is the solution to our watered down youth programs more theology? Is theology something we can add in to the recipe of various ministries where some have enough, others too much, and others not enough?
Maybe theology is about living. Doesn’t it make sense that the more we study God the more we know what pleases Him and the more we delight to do it? So, our ministry (whether formal or otherwise) is not about balancing out the messy games with the exegesis of Romans. Ministry is just about inviting others into our study of God – finding out what pleases Him and delighting to do it together.
I once tried to come up with a word for this: viviology.
I know it doesn’t make sense and thank goodness I don’t work at Webster’s. But, as I read through Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas several years ago, I struggled to come up with a way to describe the kind of life Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived. He was so serious about theology. I mean, brilliance ran in the guy’s family so he would have excelled in whatever field he chose to pursue. The interesting piece is not that Bonhoeffer was brilliant as a theologian, but that he was brilliant as a mentor, friend, and pastor.
To Bonhoeffer, theology wasn’t something that he worked in to a lesson plan. Theology happened when he played soccer and wrote letters and read for hours. Theology happened when he was in prison and when he struggled through sin and when conviction led him to take a stand against injustice. Theology wasn’t an additive.
Theology – the truest kind, I think – is always mixed. In fact, it’s mixed so much that it can’t be pulled apart from all the pieces of life it connects. Ministry is about drawing others into a study of God so that we know what pleases Him and are delighted to do it together.