An Atlanta pastor, South Carolina educator, PhD student and North Carolina mother would typically have little in common. But there is one thing they share: they, like thousands of other believers, have been challenged to integrate their work, culture, faith and concepts of economic wisdom via the resources of the Intersect Project.
The Genesis of the Intersect Project
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) joined the Oikonomia Network in 2015 with its new initiative, the Intersect Project. The Intersect Project began with a clear goal: to help pastors and church leaders engage the intersection of faith, flourishing, economics and culture, so they could lead believers in their churches to do likewise. In short, the Intersect Project sought to take the growing conversation to the pulpit and the pew.
To achieve this goal, SEBTS developed three electives to train current and future pastors to lead their congregations toward a robust and healthy view of the workplace, economics and culture. These electives were then repackaged so others could benefit from them. Each was transformed into massive open online courses (MOOC) to enable anyone to access the resources, free of charge. In addition, the professors for these classes adapted the material into easy-to-read discipleship books: Every Square Inch, Every Waking Hour and Every Good Thing.
SEBTS also hosted the Intersect Wisdom Forum. At this conference, eight leading Christian thinkers presented brief, compelling presentations to answer vital questions about the relationship between faith and culture, work and economics.
As Intersect entered its second phase, SEBTS aimed to multiply the message to reach an even broader audience. Intersect Pastor’s Conference trained church planters, pastors, parachurch organizations and students. Targeted chapel services and PhD colloquia sought to deepen the conversation on SEBTS’ campus. In addition, a PhD symposium challenged doctoral students to integrate ideas about economics and flourishing into their scholarship.
The Intersect Project’s website served as central hub for these resources. The website also began to publish daily articles from key faculty and students to engage everyday readers. These articles reached new audiences through social media, and they offered a chance for readers across the globe to be exposed to the Intersect Project’s resources.
In the flurry of activity, SEBTS’ goal with the Intersect Project has been the same: to take the conversation about faith, culture and economic wisdom to the pulpit and the pew.
Taking Intersect to the Pulpit
The Intersect Project has equipped pastors to engage this important topic. More than 1,800 people, many of them church leaders, have taken the electives either in person or online. More than 50 influential pastors and church leaders attended the Intersect Pastors Conference. In addition, the Intersect Project website has published articles targeted specifically to pastors to give them tools to engage relevant topics in their congregations.
These efforts to equip pastors are bearing fruit. Seth Waldrop is pastor for administration and member care at Lamp City Church, Atlanta, Ga. Waldrop has relied on Intersect Project resources in his ministry.
“As a young pastor of a new church plant residing in a city that is a melting pot of culture in the truest sense, the Intersect resources continually challenge and stretch me in my pursuit of growing in biblical wisdom and shepherding others to do the same,” he said. “The Intersect Project has greatly helped me continually grow as a follower of Christ and as a young pastor.”
Greg Lamb agrees. A pastor at Mays Chapel Baptist Church in Bear Creek, N.C., and PhD candidate at SEBTS, Lamb has also found the Intersect Project’s resources helpful.
“The Intersect Project at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has afforded me many opportunities to learn from and dialogue with world-class scholars from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and research interests,” he said. “Such opportunities have not only sharpened me as a student of the Bible, but have also helped me obtain a more fully-orbed understanding of key cultural and theological issues.”
The Intersect Project, then, is making a difference not just on the SEBTS campus, but for pastors serving local churches across the country.
Taking Intersect to the Pew
The Intersect Project has also sought to take the conversation about faith, culture and flourishing to everyday Christians in the pew.
The MOOCs and discipleship books were designed to be accessible to lay Christians. In addition, the Intersect Project website has become an increasingly respected resource for information about these topics. More than 1,600 email subscribers receive weekly updates. Some of these subscribers are pastors, but others are everyday Christians who desire to know how faith impacts the rest of their lives.
Erica Wu of Wake Forest, N.C., is one such reader. She regularly accesses Intersect Project resources. “The Intersect Project is one of my favorite websites. I find it encouraging, challenging and incredibly thought provoking,” she said.
The Intersect Project resources have also influenced Dawn Mitchell. Mitchell is a South Carolina educator who works in both public schools and at a small liberal arts college. For her, Intersect Project resources have challenged her to integrate faith with contemporary cultural issues.
“As an educator working in both public school and at a liberal arts college, I find myself unintentionally allowing the separation of church and state to separate my faith from the issues of twenty-first century life,” she said. “Intersect daily reminds me that this is not what Christ has called us to do.”
In particular, Mitchell was so challenged by a recent Intersect article that she felt compelled to write to her local newspaper. “An April blog post moved me to write an editorial for my local newspaper and to speak out on my social media about the call to minister to women and children at all ages of their lives,” she said.
For Mitchell, then, the Intersect Project’s resources are leading to tangible change in her life and community. “Intersect is a powerful tool to equip, empower and encourage us as believers and I am thankful for the impact it continues to have in my walk,” she said.
At SEBTS, faculty and staff daily seek to equip believers in all spheres of life to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. The Intersect Project has become an important part of that mission. With the Intersect Project, Christians – from the pulpit to the pew – are being encouraged to point others to human flourishing, bear God’s image in all of life and proclaim the gospel message with all its personal and cultural implications.
“God calls us to be ‘salt and light’ to the world,” Mitchell said, and “Intersect has been a wonderful resource for helping me to think about how my faith intersects with the issues of the modern world.”