When an orchestra plays, everyone assumes that the conductor is controlling the tempo and rhythm (possibly even the conductor himself). But the dirty little secret of an orchestra is that the drummer or percussion section really controls the rhythm. As long as the drummer is paying attention and willfully following the conductor, all is well. But If the drummer decides to speed up during a live performance, guess what? Everyone else speeds up too – even the conductor. Short of stopping the piece and starting over, the drummer has even the leader of the orchestra at his will. If you play an instrument, you know this to be true.
The percussionist drives the orchestra.
In much the same way, theologians – the thought leaders of the Christian world – drive our churches. They uncover the Biblical principles and mandates that apply to our lives and current world situation. They influence our pastors, missionaries, seminary professors, and Sunday School teachers. They write books and other materials discussing their findings and thoughts, and in doing so influence the action oriented leaders who take those ideas and apply them each week.
The sermon you will hear (or preach!) this Sunday is most likely influenced by the thoughts and conclusions of one or more theologians. As your pastor (or you!) prepares the message, he consults books, commentaries, and articles dealing with the subject he is addressing. He brings forward the quiet thoughts of the theologian.
Theologians are not some obscure people existing only in the back rooms of giant seminary libraries, up all hours of the night discussing with the walls the things of God. Theologians – past and present – influence your daily life more than you know. Many of them are obscure to most people. Their names are not on bulletins or billboards. They are not recognizable by even the most studious believers. And yet, in their quiet ministry, their voice is heard louder than even those that stand and speak.
Theologians – quiet ministry – drives the church.