Renewing Our Minds: Suggestions for Learning

In my previous post on Renewing Our Minds I expounded upon a quote from N.T. Wright’s book Scripture and the Authority of Godexpressing the need for churches to become more receptive of biblical and theological scholarship. In doing so, local churches are able to take more advantage of some great thinking from a much broader perspective.

Remember, our knowledge is only as good as we put it into practice. That is, what we are after is that we may become better participants in the mission of God. As Wright says, “Biblical scholarship is a great gift of God to the church, aiding it in its task of going ever deeper into the meaning of scripture and so being refreshed and energized for the tasks to which we are called in and for the world” (p. 135). Nevertheless, good practice flows from healthy or sound thinking and teaching. So for the sake of better thinking and teaching and how scholarship serves as an aid in this endeavor, I have a few suggestions for how to take more advantage of scholarship.

1.  Welcome to a smorgasbord…

Deciding who and what to read today is like trying to eat from an endless buffet. It’s impossible to read everything that’s been written within any particular subject (i.e. missional church) let alone keep up with every “good” book to be released. So I suggest first reading broadly in terms of biblical study, theology, church history, ministry practice, etc… Don’t just get locked into one area to the neglect of the others.

Second, pick your teachers wisely. In any given area, there are too many authors to read everyone. So you must decide who you want to read form since these are people you’ll be learning from. Perhaps the best way to do this is to take notice of others who are asking the same questions, who are striving to follow Jesus, and ask them who they are reading. All you need is good place to start and then you can navigate the rest of the way. Perhaps your preacher might have a recommendation or two :-).

2.  The more the merrier…

There isn’t any fun dining alone. You can only talk to yourself for so long before it becomes meaningless and depressing. But when you have someone to eat with or a group of friends to eat with…

I think that’s true for reading as well. A good book will challenge, inspire, provoke, stretch, and even evoke more questions (be wary of books that don’t!). Having some friends who are reading along with you whom you can converse with is golden. So one suggest is to create a reading group in your church community where everyone picks a book to read and then meets together to talk about it (this is a great way to build community too).

3.  Get it strait from the horse’s mouth…

Most authors also speak frequently at various conferences, symposiums, and church seminars. These offer great opportunities to learn in ways that won’t happen from reading a book, as many speaking engagements include time for some Q & A (not to mention the communal nature of such occasions).

Pay attention to a seminary or Christian college near you, as these institutions host such engagements. Another way to learn from some of the authors you’re reading is for your church to host a retreat or seminar and invite the author in as the resource speaker. This is a great way for others in your church who don’t enjoy reading as much to benefit from quality biblical and theological scholarship. I say this also because the authors I read from have a deep concern and love for the church as well as being, as far as I know, members of a local church themselves.

What say you?

5 responses to “Renewing Our Minds: Suggestions for Learning

  1. Great post (again), Rex! I really like the idea of creating a reading group in the church community. The mutual encouragement such a group could offer, as well as the learning, would be great.

  2. Agree with Jeremy! Have been wanting to start a book club with fellow Christians at church also. Not sure there would be much interest but will try.

    • I hope you can because you are a great example of a Christian who, while not having a “theology” degree, sees the value of biblical and theological scholarship and drinks from its well.

  3. You should have taken your own advice about teachers! 🙂

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