Jim Hislop, director of the Center for Leadership Development
In December 2012, the faculty of Western Seminary collectively expressed a desire to incorporate the values of the Economic Wisdom Project (EWP) into an overarching theme for the seminary curriculum. While some courses would bear primary responsibility for more intensive treatment of this topic, nearly every course would be expected to make some sort of meaningful contribution. At this point, five required courses are becoming the primary vehicles for the dissemination of these principles:
- Living as the Community of the Spirit
- Career Counseling
- Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential
- Learning to Love God and Others
- Maximizing the Redemptive Influence of the Church
Western is also spreading EWP values to pastors and marketplace leaders through the Center for Leadership Development (CLD), a non-credit educational platform, so they might more effectively infuse an authentically Christian worldview of faith, work, and economics into both the church and the workplace. The CLD provides accessible, high-quality, affordable, and biblically sound instructional resources. Students can earn a non-credit certificate of completion after satisfactorily completing a certain number of hours of study.
The CLD track Christians in the Marketplace currently includes 17 hours of instruction, comprised of modules addressing different dimensions of the theme. These include:
- Five, half-hour lessons taught by Greg Forster on Theology and Economics. Introducing the EWP principles, this course has also become an educational tool for our faculty, helping them assimilate and incorporate these principles into their regular curriculum. To facilitate this process, we introduce the faculty to one session at each faculty meeting during the year. We also provide access to the 30-minute online lesson, along with an outline of the teaching session.
- A five-hour course on Theology of Work by Gerry Breshears, professor of systematic theology and chair of the Center for Biblical and Theological Studies at Western.
- A five-hour course on Implementing a Theology of Work by the late Kent Humphreys, past president and former world ambassador for Christ at Work.
- A short course on Grace and Accountability in the Marketplace by Bruce McNicol, John Lynch and Gerry Breshears.
- A short course on Business as Mission taught by Bill Job.
- A panel discussion on the Power of Marketplace Mentoring.
Currently in production is a six-hour course called Job-Shadowing Daniel by Larry Peabody. Using the book of Daniel as his model, Larry lays out the principles of being a faithful and God-fearing employee. Together, these courses give the student a well-rounded, biblical picture of faith, work, and economics, accompanied by practical examples of implementation.
Since the CLD curriculum is targeted at the lay leader level, it is ideally suited for use in the local church. We are testing a model that asks pastors to preach a series on the topic of faith, work, and economics, and then form groups of people who want to examine these issues in more depth using CLD materials. One church has a group of 18 people who are currently working through the Christians in the Marketplace curriculum, and another group of 40 people will begin at the end of this month. Each group member watches the online lessons during the week. The group then meets on Sunday morning to discuss the videos and encourage each other in the application process. Our hope and desire is to have at least two more local churches participate in this model in the coming year.
To supplement the CLD program, we hosted our first “CO-LABOR” luncheon last fall. This event included three groups of people: seminary faculty and staff, pastors, and business leaders. The primary purpose of this luncheon was to connect these three groups so they might become better aware of each other’s needs and encouraged by each other’s strengths. A total of about 36 people had lunch and heard a presentation by Forster on “Why Pastors and Business Leaders Need Each Other.” This was followed by an open forum discussion.
This spring we hosted a second “CO-LABOR” luncheon, where Tom Nelson presented “Pastors and Business Leaders in Kingdom Partnership.” Even more attended than before– 44 people – and the event generated many grateful responses from attendees. One business leader wrote, “Thank you for inviting us into your world; we really do need each other.”
Our goal for the coming year is to expand these resources and events to reach the urban center of North Portland and our two Northern California campuses. This includes the translation of the Marketplace modules into Mandarin to serve the sizeable population of Mandarin-speaking Christians near our campuses in Northern California.