Creative Leadership

Shallow Thinking in the Church

In my consulting work, there are a lot of diseases I deal with on a daily basis that have infected the church, but one of the most serious is shallow thinking.  When pastors and Christian leaders don’t have a deep intellectual bench, the options they offer end up being shallow, simplistic, and weak.  When I grew up in the South, pastors actually made jokes about those who attended seminary.  They felt that the intellectual study of the Bible kept people away from the authentic experience of the Holy Spirit.  Of course today we know
that’s bunk.

The hard and brutal truth is that even today, intellectually, too many pastors are creampuffs.  If we’re going to engage the culture in a significant way, we need to raise up more intellectuals within the church.  Men and women who have wrestled with the big questions, and have a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the next generation.

What do you think?  Too harsh?

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  1. What reason them will be intellectual? In order to take the responsibility their own acts and determinations (decree)? In order to understand that they shall do about they preach? Easier said on the question “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” – “We do not know”!

    Their shallow thinking is deliberate! They choose it deliberately, because they had already collided with hard truth and they did not like it! They repudiated the Truth!

    They know the depth very good. Better than you think! They know: if they “had a deep intellectual bench” they should repent their own acts and determinations (decree). Namely it they avoid.

    The shallow thinking is comfortable mode of live without the repent!

    Sorry my English language.

  2. The Gospel doesn’t need to be dumbed down nor do ministers need seminary training to fulfill their calling. What’s missing is the man who grasps the solids of the gospel narrative and who can communicate them effectively; there’s not a famous name that can do that today.

  3. Its the passion to know more about Jesus… That really matters. Compare and study the personality of St.Paul and of St.Peter. The ardent desire to know teacher gave them the depth and strength. Yes the church suffer from the shallow thinking.

  4. I’m so happy that someone has pointed this out and I’m not just some well-read snob. It’s quite disheartening to be told to”dumb-down” one’s message for Joe Q Christian. It’s even more disheartening to listen to preachers butcher the english language, mispronounce biblical names and places,and interpret scripture in a manner that makes me want to stick a fork in my eye…I think it would be less painful. Because one wears the label of teacher/preacher,one should never cease being the eager student.
    The Apostle Paul is a stellar example of an intellectual leader who was alert and adaptable to political,social,and cultural changes and thus, never lost his relevancy and influence. Even King Agrippa, after Paul’s discourse in Acts 26, stated,”Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” That same Apostle Paul, upon his impending death, asked Timothy for a few items:his coat,his books, and especially his parchments. Enough said.

  5. Spot on – and this is typically seen in the handling of church finances. If we can’t be accountable in the quantative issues (like publishing quarterly financial statements) then how the heck can we be accountable in qualitative or subjective matters?

    Low intelligence in ministry never ceases to amaze me. I’ve spent years asking very simple questions over our use of television. Questions like, what do you want to achieve and how can that be measured? TV is expensive – but compared to what? What is a reasonable financial investment in bringing someone to a point of responding to the Gosepl? and why? Compared to what?

    All I hear is deathly silence, or commments like “I don’t know anyone who thinks like you.” I

  6. When I entered into the ministry, those with seminary degrees were said to not have any “annointing” due to their book learning. Amoung us Pentecostals was a feeling that the “Spirit” couldn’t move under a learned individual. Now, with degrees and seminary, I am considered one of those. I believe ministers, as well as all Christians, need to continue with their learning. It keeps the river of life flowing and not stagnating in our lives. You’re not too harsh, probably not harsh enough. It is known that sheep cannot rise above the shephard. Maybe that is why so many sheeple seem to follow after every doctrine and fad that comes into our home on the television. Nobody does their homework and ck’s things out, they run to their all knowing ministers for direction when many of them haven’t a clue either.

  7. I think that is absolutely true, however, there is also a huge risk of producing intellectuals who don’t know how to convey the truths they have struggled with and understood to everyday parishioners, and struggle to connect with people where they are at, so that they can move them forward in their walk with God!

    As a theological student, I think its essential to have a top quality theological education behind you, and you absolutely MUST be well read, and love learning.

    But if you can’t work out how to convey all that intellect to local people in an edifying way, then you end up just being another intellectual… which, when it comes down to it, really doesn’t serve God’s people! It’s not just about intellect… but intellect, mixed with people skills, an understanding of your local community and the people in it, and all of this guided by a passionate love for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and an honest, deep, willingness to serve however possible!

  8. God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. It is not intellect that is the problem but a true love and knowledge of the Word of God. It is only when the preacher does not understand the Word of God or even really understands Jesus, that his teaching becomes shallow, simplistic and weak.

  9. Not harsh enough!!! We are facing dangerous times with the rise of Islam in our Nation! The years have gone by and we have a church that is full of humanism and socialistic dogma…our culture is littered with all kinds of paganism, buddism and hinduism…we are facing a need for complete restructering of our infrastructure culturally as well as spiritually!

  10. Phil, you hit the nail on the head. Today’s generation is super spiritual, and they are hungry for something more than what they are getting from the pulpit. The question then becomes, what is the more?

    1. The ‘more’ they seek is…God. We can give them theology, baptism in water, ceremonies and gospel concerts. But only God can give them Himself. Until we address this above all else, everything we do will be empty at best.

      Something’s wrong when we can’t even heal the sniffles in our church services anymore…

  11. Dead on. I’ve seen associate pastors with seminary degrees laughed at and run out of churches by senior pastors and their staff. It’s inexcusable how little seminary degrees are valued.

  12. I beleive you are right on! I’m in my late 40’s and just graduated with a Bth from seminary, and I still don’t think I have a handle on the big questions, so I plan to take a masters in theology. My profs are some of the top scholars in the world, so why wouldn’t I want to continue growing intellectually?

  13. If our faith is going to be something deeper than just “God loves you so let’s all be nice to each other and have a wonderful life” we need to be able to wrestle with the bigger issues. A big part of that is having pastors who can help guide us into deeper intellectual thought.


    The recent CNN article about fake Christian teens shines the spotlight on shallow faith, not only for our teens but for all who follow Christ.

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