“What’s Your Theology of Basketball?”
written by Dr Rhamie
Senior Lecturer, Ethnicity and Culture in Early Christianity & Contemporary Praxis Director of Field Education
When you make decisions in your church life, what principles guide your decision-making?
This is an important question because your answer will impact you and others around you, even the whole church. Pastors are always presented with dilemmas: which budget item to prioritise; which leaders to choose; which outreach programme to back; what pastoral care to apply; which theological battles to fight; how best to arrange the furniture of the church; which colour carpet to choose; or even, whether basketball can be mission. I say to my students, “If a member dogmatically insists on a particular suggestion as the only appropriate answer, ask them: ‘That’s interesting, but what’s your theology behind this suggestion?’” This question almost inevitably stumps the member! But why?
Well, it’s because we tend to see church and facilities management, counselling, financial planning, evangelistic projects and even playing basketball as detached from theology, when in fact, theology should govern all ecclesial decisions. In which case, the challenge of pastoral leadership is to connect the dots between theology, biblical texts, personal reflection, plural societal norms and community needs.
Biblical Theology and Praxis of Ministry and Missionis a module within Newbold’s Master of Arts in Theology that I teach with Dr Laszlo Gallusz which helps students to connect the dots. It helps them to say, “The theology behind this is …”
But this is only half of the story. This is because centre to what we’re talking about is mission. Mission has a long colonial history suffused by patriarchy. Patriarchy is not just about male authoritarianism. Patriarchy is about oppressive, interlocking systems of gender, race and class. In which case, the question of, ‘what is your theology of mission?’ is a question that should consider inherited colonial and patriarchal forces. Often, we think of evangelists, community outreach, bible studies, personal ministries and small groups without looking at the corrosive influences that may have conditioned our expectations, not only as they intersect with gender, race and class, but as they equate mission with colonisation. Thankfully, there are biblical attitudes against these tendencies. When we talk about servanthood theology, missiology, liberation theology, womanist theology, agape theology, koinonia theology and the like, we are talking about seeing budgets, leadership, care, outreach, mission, beliefs and community work divested of oppressive systems of patriarchal colonisation.
In Biblical Theology and Praxis of Ministry and Mission, we research the tools that will enable you to join the dots, push back against (hidden) colonial and patriarchal influences and provide a clarified, appropriate theology for all ministry and mission contexts, even with respect to playing community basketball. This prospect excites me very much. What do you think? Drop me a line for further information.