Pick Up *A Pastor's Guide for Everyday Mission* Today | more >
•••

How to Avoid Brain Meltdown & Increase Theological Vision

This past year I’ve learned a lot about leadership. One lesson can be summarized as follows: “Don’t plant more tomato plants than you can carry water to.” As an apostolic leader, I tend to start new ministries. Over the past five years, I’ve helped start five—too many tomato plants. Fortunately, God graciously brought capable men alongside me to help water these gospel works. I can’t imagine the fruitfulness of GospelCenteredDiscipleship.com without Ben Roberts (Managing Editor for eBooks) and Brad Watson (GCD Executive Editor). The ministry just wouldn’t exist.

What eBooks are Coming Out this Year?

Yet, 2012 was our strongest and first full year of publishing resources to help make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus. The “make, mature, and multiply” mantra guides our publishing. Our aim is to publish a mix of resources year after year that help you in the evangelism (make), sanctification (mature), and reproduction (multiply) of disciples. We’re shooting for deep and diverse. You can expect eBooks in all three categories. Here are a few of the titles coming this year:

We’re excited to get these titles out, and we’ll also be increasing our print publications. We hope they are a blessing to you, your churches, ministries, and disciples of all kinds.

Steering Clear of Doctrinalism & Pragmatism

As we forge ahead, we are leery of two things: doctrinalism and pragmatism. GCD.com is committed to avoiding the two extremes. We don’t want to create resources that beat a single doctrinal drum (with no practical orientation). Nor do we want to publish stuff that harps on best practices (with not theological grounding). We are committed to creating resources with what Richard Lints calls “theological vision.”

Theology is not inspired. It is the formulation of doctrinal beliefs culled from Scripture. When these beliefs respond to cultural values we end up with theological vision. Tim Keller describes theological vision this way:

It is a faithful restatement of the gospel with rich implications for life, ministry, and mission in a type of culture at a moment in history. – Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City

In March we will begin a series of articles called Questioning the Gospel. This series will query the gospel with present cultural and ministry questions in an effort to equip the reader to make disciples with theological vision. For example, article titles will include:

  • “What Should I Say to My Gay Friend about Christianity?”
  • “What Should I Do When My Neighbor Says He is Getting a Divorce.”

We want to strike a blend of gospel faithfulness and cultural shrewdness. We’re very excited about this series, but more importantly about honing our commitments for content. Instead of content dictating us, we aim to direct content in line with our vision to produce resources that make, mature, and multiply disciples with theological vision. If this is sparking some article ideas, send us an article query.

Blogs are Melting Your Brain

As you can imagine, articles with theological vision will require space. This lines up with our long-form commitment. You may have noticed that we don’t publish short-form blogs with fancy graphics and space to comment. That isn’t accidental. We’d like to think we are rescuing some readers from the deleterious practice of typical Internet reading. At Duke University, full-length books are infrequently assigned to students. Studies show that students write internally coherent paragraphs but can’t track with a sustained line of argumentation. They are losing their ability to focus. Why? Our brains are being rewired by our use of the Internet and social media.

In his bestselling book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, Nicholas Carr states: “The Net may well be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has come into general use.”

The Net encourages rapid consumption of information. When skimming (not reading) an internet article, we may also be viewing a rotating advertisement, reading a pop-up chat box, and responding to an email, and clicking away from the page and back, all while listening to Arcade Fire. Neuroscientists are showing us that the neurons in our brains are actually rearranged to respond to rapid consumption of data. While short-term memory may be improving, short-term memory is failing. Perhaps worse, instead of reading for in-depth reflection, we are being rewired for shallow consumption. Extensive reading, and therefore theological reflection, has become difficult and uninviting. Why read when you could surf the Net?

I know; we’re delusional, but we’re also hopeful that longer and better articles could actually rewire, not only our brains, but also our hearts. So pull up an article, grab a cup of coffee, and settle into some long-form reading on discipleship. It just might change you, and the disciples you make. And if you like what you read, be sure to Facebook, tweet, and blog on it so you can join us in rescuing others from brain meltdown. Who knows, it might even lead to a changed heart.

Jonathan K. Dodson (MDiv; ThM) serves as a pastor of Austin City Life in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Gospel-Centered Discipleship and has written articles in numerous blogs and journals such as The Resurgence, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, and Boundless. He has discipled men and women abroad and at home for almost two decades, taking great delight in communicating the gospel and seeing Christ formed in others. Twitter: @Jonathan_Dodson

Read the newly released book, Gospel Amnesia by Luma Simms.

Read free articles: Sanctification: The People We’re Becoming by Jeremy Carr and Gospel Amnesia in the Local Church by Luma Simms