When attending Bible College or seminary, attaining a systematic and historically, and theologically thorough understanding of the Gospel is essential. Those seeking to be leaders in ministry must have robust theology and discretion, or else they risk unintentionally misleading their flock.
Knowledge is essential, but the application of that knowledge is often just as important. While a Bible college or seminary can provide you with the scriptures’ sound experience, they don’t always do as good a job explaining the appropriate ways to share that knowledge. Many churches are full of people who love and care for one another, but that alone is not discipleship.
I dare say that the majority of churches in America struggle with being too intellectual or emotional. There must be a middle ground. I have attended churches that have taught sound doctrine but have done an inferior job of making lifelong disciples. I have seen churches that performed incredible acts of love and compassion for each other but completely neglected any presentation of the Gospel at all.
We need to connect the “knowledge” found from formal education with the “family” found in the local church body. God created man in His image with a heart AND a mind – we must neglect neither.
In the book Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Jonathan Dodson says, “I’ve come to understand that following Jesus alone is not really what it means to be a disciple…being a disciple means making disciples….Making disciples requires not only sharing our faith, but also sharing our lives — failures and successes, disobedience and obedience.”
True discipleship requires that we understand the central tenets of our faith. Without a good understanding of the scriptures, we will likely struggle to communicate the Gospel correctly.
However, knowledge without compassion is no more useful than a “clanging cymbal,” as 1 Corinthians 13:1 states. Our love and compassion for people will allow us to make disciples, using our knowledge. Knowledge without love and vice-versa will not produce effective disciples.
So how do we merge the intellectual with the interpersonal components of the Gospel?