I always found it hard to be too critical of my congregants when I tried to “get” them to think deeper than their own assumptions and biases about church issues – whether it was “why do evangelism” or “what is God calling us to do at this time and place” or anything else, because I realized early on, we, as the spiritual leaders of the church, haven’t really taught them how to do that. We say we want to ground all of our decisions in prayer – but how committed are we really to that? We say in our ordination vows that we will be instructed and led by our confessions as we lead the people of God, but how often do we read the Confessions, or reflect critically on them and search out what insight they may have for the particular decision, or issue, or challenge before us? If we were to be honest, if we bother to look at them at all, we are more likely to find those texts that seem to support the position we have already taken, and encourage others to read them.
Theological reflection takes practice, it takes time, and it takes effort. Three things that we sometimes feel too busy to supply. Yet without putting in that time, effort, and practice, we cut ourselves off from a vital source of strength, challenge and inspiration that can deepen our relationship with Christ and the ministry of the church.
If we don’t know how to reflect theologically on the issues before us as leaders of the church, we owe it to ourselves and our churches to learn how, to challenge each other to practice it, and to be forgiving of each other as we stumble in those efforts.