Takeaways for Educators
At this year’s Acton University, the Oikonomia Network held a curricular integration workshop on work and economics in the seminary curriculum. Over 100 theological educators participated, brainstorming on how work and economics could be better integrated into every area. Some of the most interesting ideas are highlighted below, with links to the full notes.
This is just a modest first step. The Oikonomia Network is dedicated to carrying this conversation forward in every discipline through the coming years. In the meantime, we hope these takeaways will help you think of even more opportunities to make connections in the classroom! To download the curricular workshop materials, click here.
“Work is a competition against the dominion of darkness, but done in cooperation with Kingdom of Light people, to build the body of Christ who is the image of God.”
“From the beginning, the divine economy is oriented toward value creation, which is far more than money, but working relationships where partnering and helping are central to the economic makeup.”
The group also listed many specific ways in which the fall and redemption impact work and the economy.
The discipline needs to develop tools to guide curricular integration, in particular to develop exegesis of key passages, separating what is incidental from what is intentional; the NT group agreed to connect by email and continue discussing ideas and areas of need.
Work is a thread throughout OT history and the prophets.
The contrast between attitudes on work and economics in Israel and other nearby civilizations is illuminating.
Case studies (Abraham, Noah, etc.) and thematic studies would illuminate how the principles/paradigm of the OT is relevant.
Middle Ages: Monasteries were entrepreneurial and traded; guilds imposed protectionist policies; commerce helped bring Christianity to China.
Reformation: Vocation and the economics of the Reformation was connected to the movement from aristocracy to republics; early modern pietist revival thrived on entrepreneurship.
History of Doctrine: The current movement to emphasize “new creation” supports entrepreneurship.
These groups identified an abundance of curricular touch points, including the need to develop metrics of fruitfulness in our work, create consulting relationships between churches and businesses, equip congregants with relational and social skills for work and the economy, find areas where pastors need exegetical help, and identify challenges in compassion ministry.
Students need to own their identities, and discern if they are in seminary for the right reasons.
Micah 6:8 – “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Church planters need to understand economics.
Short-term mission trips raise important questions – they can be valuable, but may not be the most effective way to expend resources, or may substitute foreign work for local work, etc.
Ethics & Philosophy
Understanding work and economics is important to a Christian worldview.
The group made a list of helpful books on this topic.
Youth & Family
Children need to understand the economy from an early age; role modeling and explicit teaching by parents in the home is crucial.
The church, as the “extended family of God,” supplements economic formation in the family.
Churches need to help single moms and others who struggle with economics.