Devotion: Napkin Theology

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1

While seminary effectively trained pastors to articulate in 2000 words or less giant concepts like God’s sovereignty, the role of the church, the power of justification, and the Christological impact of the dove’s descent upon Jesus at Baptism, these have not been my conversations over the years with church members.

Instead these have been the questions I have faced in ministry so far:

  • “Will Jesus forgive my abortion?”
  • “Will my brother who just committed suicide get into heaven?”
  • “What can I do, I just came home and my wife has packed up her stuff and left?”
  • “Why can I not stop drinking?”

These are the conversations people seeking God have had with me over coffee, over the phone, and in the line after worship.  These are the questions that cause me each morning to wake up with my prayer journal in one hand and the Bible in the other.  Because ultimately, I have realized the need to bring the gospel to life for people will not come from me thinking quickly on my feet.

What draws me to Christ and scripture each day, is how Jesus moves from the theoretical to the practical with vivid word pictures.  Jesus’s desire is to take these big ideas and put the theological cookies on the bottom shelf, so normal and regular folks like you and me can find hope and not lose heart.

img_1355I call this “napkin theology.”  Theology that can be articulated on the back of a napkin.

“Napkin Theology” is what Jesus does in the above passage.  He takes a parable–a word picture–to help people pray and not lose heart.  As we seek to share the love of Jesus with the people around us, it should be our mission to help them pray and not lose heart.

Napkin theology is having normal conversations with normal people, being ready to take the resources at your disposal (like a napkin) to draw people one step closer to the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

So what is your “napkin theology?”

2 thoughts on “Devotion: Napkin Theology

  1. I am reading Morgan Guyton’s How Jesus Saves the World from Us, 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity – pretty good stuff similar to what you just talked about. You may not agree with everything he says, especially his LGBT support. But he writes about “outsider” and “insider” Christianity and where Jesus fits. I am reading a short section daily, so slow progress but spending time with what he says.

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