Todd Wilson Isn't Talking Specifically about the Brookside Institute in this Article. But in a Lot of Ways, He Could Be.
Recently, I ran across this article by Todd Wilson, Senior Pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in IL and co-founder of the Center for Pastor Theologians. (He's also co-author of the recent book, The Pastor Theologian, which I've previously reviewed here.) I love hearing people articulate a passion and vision for biblical & theological equipping in the church and for the church - because of how closely this aligns with what we're trying to do with the Brookside Institute.
Of course, Dr. Wilson isn't talking specifically about the Brookside Institute. Don't expect 100% overlap between all that he mentions and everything we do here. There are certain things he brings up and draws attention to that I would nuance a bit, and/or things he mentions that we've chosen not to do at the Brookside Institute. But there's still A LOT of overlap.
The whole article is worthwhile - I encourage you to read it when you've got a few minutes. For now, let me simply piggy back on what Todd says by adding my hearty (and brief!) "Amen" to three things mentioned about (1) the necessary connection between "doing theology" and "doing ministry," (2) clarifying the role of the pastor theologian, and (3) making local churches places where theology thrives and feeds.
The Necessary Connection Between "Doing theology" and "Doing Ministry"
I'm grateful for Wilson's call for the local church to work against ways we often separate "doing ministry" from "doing theology" - a division that has happened most markedly over the last two hundred years or so. While I DON'T think (nor am I suggesting) that everyone working at a church or involved in ministry needs to pursue some formal role of "pastor theologian" (a point Wilson and Hiestand emphasize themselves in their book), everyone involved in ministry should appreciate the life-giving connection between theology and practice. When these two things are divorced, dangerous things can happen - theology becomes abstract and disconnected from actual concerns, and practice is conducted on a thin or misguided foundation.
The church can champion this connection between theology and practice (1) by building practice and exhortation on solid theology, and (2) by cultivating a "teachable theology" - where a theology formed by the truth of God's Word speaks to the actual questions people are asking and the particular situations they're facing.
Claryifying the Role of the Pastor Theologian
Wilson helps us think correctly what what a pastor theologian actually looks like, as well. The pastor theologian is not necessarily someone with lots of letters (often including PhD) after their name, nor is the pastor theologian someone who hides in their study and only reads books. Education can be good, and reading is important. But these things aren't the sum total of what a pastor theologian looks like.
Rather, Wilson focuses on three "identity markers" of the pastor theologian:
Making Local Churches Places Where Theology Thrives and Feeds
Too often, theology is stereotyped as divisive and distracting. But what if - properly understood - theology helps feed God's people, and helps them thrive (living in the way that God designed)? In Wilson's own words, we pursue the important task of doing theology within and for the church "for the good of the body of Christ as a whole, in its own spiritual integrity and ministry and mission to the world."
Tying It All Together
All of these things resonate with values of the Brookside Institute. We exist to facilitate the relationship between evangelical theology and local church practice by building and reinforcing foundations of the Christian faith. We do this so that everyone involved can be equipped with biblical thinking and encouraged on Christian mission. We exist to show others that theology isn't just for "the PhDs," but is simply the (very!) important task of digging deeply into Scripture, learning from the riches (and mistakes) of church history, and thinking carefully about what all of this means for our lives today. We exist to winsomely pursue the sort of ministry environment that feeds the life of the larger church - rather than competing with it or distracting from it. We want others to be glad for the health and life-giving nature of the Institute - for how it equips leaders, for how it grounds everyone involved, and for how it displays the truth and delight we can find in God's Word, the Bible.
See the links directly below to learn more about what the Brookside Institute is doing, and what we're all about!
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