You may have been wondering “What does it take to be a freestyle theologian? What are the skills required to do engaging freestyles for the 21st Century? Well there are two basic requirements for doing good theology (in my opinion). One of them are obvious, however the other might not be so obvious.
I’ve always believed that we all need to have a good understanding of what God wants from us. We need to be a people that are thinking about God. Specifically about what God has done in the past, helping us to understand what God is doing now, and what He will continue to do. In some sense, we all need to become unofficial theologians (meaning we don’t all have to go to school for theology). We all need to be taking the time to understand how God is at work today, and how He has revealed himself and is working through His son Jesus. We need to be thinking about the nature of the Spirit and how it unites us, empowers us, and guides us. We are all called to reflect on God’s mission for us in community.
I’m also a firm believer that we need to be students of society, culture and people. We need to be able to understand the trends, interpret systems, and be relevantly engaged with the culture of the community we serve. What do people eat? Where do they hang out? What’s the music? What are the needs of the community? Who are their role models? What do they think about Christians? Basically, we all should become unofficial sociologists (again not necessarily going to school for it). Some might think this is unnecessary “hype” in an attempt to be “cool”. However I understand this attempt at being contextual to be directly drawn from incarnational ministry. Jesus came down and became like us in every way. Paul talked about becoming all things to all people to win them. Yet we refuse to even take the time to understand our neighbors. We are all called to reflect on the culture and society in which we want to see subjected under Christ’s Lordship.
A great example of both unofficial theologians and unofficial sociologists were the Men of Issachar. In 1 Chronicles 12:32 we see that they were “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” They understood their situation, context, and cultural problems, while simultaneously having the answers for those problems that were relevant and appropriate for their context.