Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions Ed Stetzer: Why Every Church Planter Must Use the Theological Grid

Ed Stetzer: Why Every Church Planter Must Use the Theological Grid

theological grid

Everybody thinks they are in “the middle.” It’s the people to the right of you that are extreme crazies and all those to your left have no convictions whatsoever. Recognizing that “the middle” is a subjective term, I still want to propose a middle ground for understanding pastoring, planting and being a missionary. There are many things to consider when serving in pastoring, planting or missions. My intent here is not to address them all, but to encourage you to consider two aspects in two ways. I call them “grids.” These two grids to look at church ministry are the missiological and the theological grid.

The tendency, as is always the case, is to drift to either extreme to the detriment of the other end. There are some who are only concerned about theology, without ever considering how to relate to their community. Others are obsessed with being relevant and will cast aside biblical convictions if they clash with cultural values.

Church leaders must think both theologically and missiologically.

I don’t think either of these are healthy ways to lead churches. A balance is needed. Church leaders must think both theologically and missiologically. Now, that’s a “balance” and a “middle” that I need to explain. As such, I’ll illustrate why a middle ground is needed, I want to explain why each grid is vital. In demonstrating the value of each, the goal is for you to recognize the importance of both.

Today, I want to concentrate on the theological grid. Why should we be concerned with theology if our goal is to reach the community?

Questions About Your Theological Grid

1. “How do we start churches if we don’t believe Jesus is the only way?”

I’m invited to speak at numerous different Christian organizations, networks and denominations. Rarely do those invitations surprise me. But when I was asked to speak to a group from a mainline denomination that would be self-identified as liberal, I have to admit, I was a little surprised.

If the gospel is not properly understood, it cannot be persistently proclaimed.

They gave me four hours to teach on anything I wanted. So I got up there and I taught on the gospel. People were taking notes and I thought, “This is kind of awesome.” But at the end, they wanted to ask some questions about outreach. They asked something like, “How do we get our people to think urgently about evangelism if we don’t believe Jesus is the only way?”

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola Univeristy and Scholar in Residence & Teaching Pastor at Mariners Church. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Dr. Stetzer is the host of "The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast," and his national radio show, "Ed Stetzer Live," airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.