Pundits vs. Practitioners

Be more than a pundit.

Pundits are technically experts in a given field who are frequently called upon to provide an opinion on a particular matter. In our current media climate, we have pundits for everything. We listen to pundits about sports on ESPN. Many major news outlets have devolved from journalism into a string of pundit commentary. Take this past election as an example. Finally, we have no shortage of pundits in Christian circles who pontificate on “Christian things.” In fact, you are reading one of them right now. What I do regularly in this online space would class as the work of a pundit.

As in many other fields, the Christian subculture has capitalized on the ease of information exchange today. We have more books coming out than ever. There are studies, podcasts, and the almighty conference, the holy grail of information exchange. If we are not careful, we buy into a subtle lie. We think that being able to share what everyone has thought about something equals being good at that thing. We think that regularly learning more and more, reading article and commentary after article and commentary, is really being skilled at an idea. As the saying goes, “Talk is cheap.”

We are called to be more than pundits.

Yes, we are called to teach, especially those of us who pastor. We must be careful, however, to caution people concerning their use of knowledge and not to divorce learning from doing. In an information age it is easy to equate the simple fact of knowing with discipleship. However, the Great Commission (the locus classicus for discipleship) does not tell us to teach people all of Christ’s commands, as much as we like to read it that way. It actually tells us to teach people to obey all of his commands. Tiny semantic difference. Giant application difference.

There is a place for pundits. We need people to articulate concepts. We need people to teach on topics. The Bible is full of encouragement and commands to teach the faith to others. In that regard, I encourage you to read books, read articles, and go to conferences. Just do not make those an end in themselves. Remember that commenting on a thing is not the same as being good at the thing. I would not trust an armchair quarterback to win the big game for my team. I am not handing him the ball, even though he has an opinion about every play of the game.

Church is not a spectator sport. Our mission is on the field, all of us. Sure, some have a ministry of teaching the rest of us, and we should listen to them. Some are called to train us all up in godliness. Some have a keen eye for the situation on the field. But, we all need to be in the game, even pundits. In fact, we learn best by doing. Be more than a pundit; be a practitioner.

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