EFM: Education for Ministry, New Zealand
Theological Reflection

At the heart of EfM is the process of “theological reflection.” In general, this term means knowing God and knowing about God through experience. People who have studied theology through EfM often speak of how theological reflection (TR) altered their way of thinking about their faith, bringing them greater insight, drawing them closer to God, and giving them fresh awareness of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in today’s world. This new understanding has enriched and deepened their mission and ministry. Since taking what you have learned out into the world is EfM’s ultimate goal, TR can be seen as a key part of the programme. The processes found in TR have been carefully thought out and refined over a period of years, with mentor and participant feedback an important part of their development.

The process of TR can make learning come alive, as it encourages us to make links between God’s story and our story; between the past and the present. It helps us relate our lives to those of earlier people who, like us, are part of the family of God. As Christians, we have a responsibility to carry on the tradition of the people of God and to keep their story alive and real. As we examine our own beliefs and how they connect to the Christian tradition and culture, we learn to better articulate our ideas, to be more consistent and systematic, and to find ways to apply our faith in the world as Christ’s ministers. We discover that opportunities for ministry are everywhere, as TR helps us see how everything we do allows us to manifest the love of Christ.

 

Each of us is a theologian; TR helps us learn to think theologically. It is exciting, creative, and challenging. The EfM programme not only uses TR in EfM groups, but also equips participants to develop it as a life skill.

 

The Four-Source Model used in Theological Reflection

Theological reflection is more likely to lead to fresh insight if we differentiate personal experience and experience of the world, and are careful to distinguish among four sources:

 

Personal Experience/Action
Personal Position (Beliefs, Values)
Christian Tradition.

Culture/Society

 

The Experience/Action and Position sources reflect personal experience and beliefs, while Culture and Tradition identify what we receive from the world. All four of these areas serve as sources for our understanding of our lives, our world, our relationships, and God.