Saturday, June 19, 2010

Theology Statements

Theology has such a bad stigma to it. When you break the word down it comes from "theos" meaning God, and "logos" meaning words. So theology is really nothing more than words about God. We've really religious-ed that word up, haven't we? We all have words about God, things we believe or things we say we believe.

Church Theology Statement

Nearly every church has a theology statement displayed....somewhere. Most keep it in a fairly prominent place on their website, others put a shortened version of it somewhere in print, and there are a select few who don't display one at all.

Theology statements come in different formats. Some like putting out a list of beliefs and text references. Others like creeds. Still other churches put their theology into a story format, a narrative. I personally think having a church theology statement displayed (at least online) is important for a church.

The best theology statements are in latin. Make a note of it.

Why is a theology statement important?

Because people want to know.

The problem is that different people will want to know for different know, on account of people being different. People hunt down a theology statement because they have a question in their mind that they need answered before they come to church the first time, or before they decide to invest themselves fully into the church.

What are you against...?

This person is hoping for a nice bullet list where they can mentally go down and check off your beliefs like a true/false quiz. They want to compare your beliefs and text references with theirs to see whose side you're on. Most of these people are legit, and just don't know another way to think about it...but some people may actually be looking to start a fight, seriously. They're just hoping that your beliefs won't align so they can say "aha! I knew it, you pagans!!!" Either way, people in this group know their personal theology, and they want to find one that matches.

Do you believe this...?

This person is looking to see how weird you are. Or perhaps they've been burnt by other churches before, and they really want to know that it won't happen again. They're scanning for keywords like "snake handling" or "fire walking" or "speaking in tongues" or "submission." They want to know if they will be safe or comfortable in your church. They're seeing how much resistance they'll face before deciding if they'll even step through the door.

What do you think...?

This person is legitimately searching for answers. They want to find out what you think about God, and they're not bringing a bunch of presuppositions and opinions to the table. They're curious, they're honest, they're searching. They crave direction, support, and answers. They're on a journey trying to find some level of spirituality, and they're hoping to whoever is listening that you'll help give them direction.


Obviously not everyone fits nicely into one of those three groups. Honestly, most people are probably a mix of two of them, if not all three...or some other motivation entirely.

I bet plenty of people don't care about a church having a theology statement at all. But since they don't care, it wouldn't hurt to have one :)

So where do you see yourself? Have you ever looked around for a theology statement on your church's website? Did you like what you found? Was it a list, creed, story, something else entirely?