I’ve met many people who have been Christians for long periods of time. And there’s still one thing that’s easy to do. You can pretty easily separate Christians into three groups. Those who have faith, those who have theology, and those who have both.
There are many individuals that grow closer to God by diving into more than what the Bible has to offer. They’re the ones that you see at every conference going to every seminar they can. Odds are they’ve read a commentary or 66 on the books of the Bible. When you look at their bookshelf, it’s full of books from authors who are well known scholars and that have done extensive research. Maybe they’ve even gone as far as to learn Greek or Latin. Sounds like a pastor right? Close, but not close enough.
Now I’m not saying the above things are bad. There’s never anything wrong with having knowledge. The issue comes in though where people know the theology, but struggle with applying it. I’ve met a few people that have all this theology knowledge, but yet they don’t put it to work. When opportunities come up to go on a missions trip, international or domestic, they make the claim that they don’t feel called to go on it. You rarely see these individuals help out with children’s and youth ministry. They keep growing and growing in their knowledge, but what good is that knowledge when it’s not used?
I love these people. Probably because I’m one of them. These are the people that love Jesus and love being active in their faith. Are they the strongest believers or know their Bible front to back? Nope! When you go to their homes and look at their bookshelf, they might have 5 books that they’ve read in the past 10 years. But these are the people that go without knowing what they’re really getting into.
Are these people weaker in their faith than the ones who know a lot of theology? Not at all. In fact, I think they tend to be stronger.
When they go to an outreach event, they show up ready to serve in whatever way they can. I was at an outreach once where attendance was low initially. But then a lady went and stood at a corner with a sign that said “Free Food” on it. She stood there for two and a half hours. Just like that, cars filled the parking lot and the people came and heard the Gospel. A family I personally know isn’t rich by any means. But yet anytime there’s a mission trip going to the Dominican Republic, most of them are on that plane going down to serve. They have undeniable faith that God will provide a way for them to go, and He always seems to come through.
If ever there was a group to lead the charge at an outreach or missions trip, these are the people. They are the ones that know a fair amount of theology, but also have the faith to step into the unknown. You’ll see these people at conferences, but you’ll see them in seminars relating to sharing their faith effectively with others. They will also be the people going to outreaches. When a heckler or person who wants to discredit Christianity shows up, these are the people that have the knowledge to go toe to toe with them and have no issues. Often times these individuals are leading people into areas where nobody knows what to expect. And yes, it is not uncommon for these individuals to be pastors.
Most people believe the term pastor belongs to someone who is leading a church. According to Google, pastor is defined as a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation. But in all reality, it’s the person who is the most equipped to handle any situation they’re going to face. The church I attend did a free clinic for a few years where people could come and get a few basic services done for free. While there were many people from within the church who volunteered, it was most encouraging to see the pastors.
Instead of walking around trying to supervise, or be only available when deep theological knowledge was needed. All of them showed up, put on the neutral colored shirt and volunteer badge, and lead a guest around as they had their haircut, blood pressure checked, computer serviced, and meal served. They were leaders. There’s an image of a boss versus a leader. The boss sits on the giant stone ordering the workers to pull harder to get the stone to where it needs to be on the pyramid. But the leader, he gets off the stone, goes to the front of the rope, and helps to pull the stone while encouraging the workers to pull harder.
So if having a combination of faith and theology leads to the creation of a pastor, why have faith over theology?
Every church out there has plenty of pastors and plenty of theologians, or at least people who think they are theologians. But what so many churches lack are the people of faith. The ones that will show up no matter what. The people who are willing to go to the poorest and dangerous countries for missions, stand in a food line as a server, or simply carry a baby while the mother is being ministered to. In Matthew 9:37-38 reads: Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Will knowing the route to Damascus, the names of the apostles, or Levitical law more likely get you into Heaven? No! Will the person who doesn’t know the Bible because they can’t read get denied entry to Heaven? Not as long as they’ve accepted Jesus as their savior. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Don’t worry about anything else.