The Danger of “Fad Theology”

A “fad” has been defined as “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze. (Wikipedia) Theology is composed of two compound words. “Theo” is derived from the Greek word θεοῦ, meaning God and “ology” means the study of.  When the two are combined we get the study of God.

Therefore when we hear “Fad Theology” it is a reference to methods Christians practice that begin with much enthusiasm towards God and His causes, only to be short lived and often creating disillusionment.

In Modern Day Christianity-

This can be seen in the forms of the latest and greatest flashy, packaged Bible Studies that are constantly hitting the mainstream Christian bookstores. I sincerely believe that there are definite advantages gained in some such studies that make their way in our churches. However, the validity is in question when a church or ministry repeatedly campaigns for the next latest and greatest Bible Study without sustained spiritual growth as a result. In short, where is the fruit? When there is a failure to follow up with tangible objectives that can be measured, individuals are left with feelings of disillusionment. The hype did not meet their deepest need to know Christ intimately which leads to really being challenged in their personal walk. On the other hand, a Bible Study with sustenance coupled with setting tangible objectives that measure and test the actual application of the teaching will in turn produce a bountiful fruit. Otherwise, we are left with barren trees.

In addition, when Christians are served a consistent diet of surface level and elementary, topically-themed teaching, there is a failure for a clear understanding of overarching themes found in the scriptures. A deeper dive into scriptures provides the needed systematic approach to realizing clear goals already established by God for our daily living.

The average pay in some areas for most full-time ministers responsible for teaching and preaching is around the $50,000-$60,000. In some cases this is significantly higher and in other cases significantly lower, especially for youth or children ministers. Nonetheless, the fact that minsters are to fully give themselves to teaching, preaching and working diligently to show themselves approved by God, they should not shepherd a group of believers to spiritual growth by way of faddish milk studies. This only leads to a low view and often compartmentalizes the understanding of who God is without providing the whole counsel of God as the scriptures require.

Leadership that has a bent toward “Faddish Theology” seems to also produce “Faddish Missiology”. Missiology is the practice of showing others and the world who God is.  The resulting spiritual health of churches impacted by this type of practice begins to render them ineffective to a watching, lost world. Our messages become weak; our missions become sporadic, emotional events with seemingly shallow results. Occasions like Thanksgiving can demonstrate how some church’s having fallen prey to this practice. The haunting question that I have not been able to escape recently, is why churches do not feed meals to their communities every week/month and advertise it on social media for those who could really need it? Instead, very predictably at Thanksgiving social media is inundated with photos and braggadocios posts of the churches monumental sacrifice to feed the hungry – one meal out of a possible 1,095 meals for the entire year makes us wanna scream “I Love My Church!”

As a leader in the field of missions, I am constantly trying to keep before those who participate in short-term missions with our organization; a reminder that missions is never a one-time event but a lifetime to be lived out. A practical way for this to be accomplished through the context of a local church or ministry, is to ensure that regular meetings are occurring with existing ministries in efforts to plan and coordinate outreach events that offer clear, measurable goals for recruiting all Christians to be challenged towards a lifestyle of missions.

This also applies to discipleship efforts. We should be challenged to streamline our primary teaching sessions such as the Sunday school hour, small groups and preaching to be a systematic and relevant tool for learning and applying scripture with an in-depth study of God’s Word.  When we do so, we then begin to help Christians become fully devoted followers of Christ who will embrace Him with their very lives. They become followers on a pathway to grow up into the full stature of Jesus Christ. When this begins to happen not only will the Church’s Theology become stronger but so will it’s missiology.