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I know a pastor who chooses a theologian to study in-depth every year. In 2013, he chose Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He read Life Together, Ethics and Letters and Papers from Prison and watched a documentary on Bonhoeffer’s work. This pastor taught a three-month Sunday evening class on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s world view.

In 2014, this pastor’s theologian of the year was Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki. “Her book on prayer,” he said, “changed how we practice prayer as a congregation.”

He chose Stanley Hauerwas in 2015 and Marilynn Robinson in 2016. “I cheated,” he says of his 2016 pick. “She’s not a theology professor, but she thinks and writes theologically.”

Your theologian of the year
Which theologians shape your congregational life? Who would you choose as your theologian of the year? Thinking carefully and comprehensively about God can’t help but strengthen your congregation’s life. Theological reflection about congregational life is like holding a compass that keeps you focused in the direction that aligns with your religious claims and commitments.

Resources you can use
Here are some theological resources you can browse on the CRG.

Check out Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic Life Together.

One of my favorite sources of theological reflection comes from Michael Jinkins, president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. His blog Thinking Out Loud is professional, personal and theological. If I were a pastor in a congregation right now, I’d use his blog not only to deepen my own theological journey but also to learn how to write a blog for the congregation I serve.

James K. A. Smith is a prolific writer these days. His book titled Imagining the Kingdom is a wonderful study of theology and worship.

Go ahead and type theology in the CRG search. You will find other resources to review. These resources are related to a variety of subjects and show the richness of theological reflection when applied to practical congregational challenges and opportunities.


Tim Shapiro by Tim Shapiro

Tim is president of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations – of which the CRG is a program. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Tim’s interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation Learns.

tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org