ON at Western Seminary
By Jim Hislop, director of the Center for Leadership Development
With the encouragement of our program as part of the Oikonomia Network, several professors at Western Seminary have begun incorporating theological approaches to work and economics into courses they have been teaching for years. Courses like Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential, Learning to Love God and Others, Career Counseling, and Living as the Community of the Spirit are ideally suited to equip students to integrate faith, work, and economics. Our faculty retreat in August featured two presentations on the issue of tearing down the sacred/secular divide that tends to creep into our thinking, fragmenting the body of Christ.
Our Center for Leadership Development (CLD) is adding new offerings to its Christians in the Marketplace certificate track. New video series include Theology and Economics; Practicing Grace and Accountability in the Marketplace; and Mentoring Christian Leaders in the Marketplace. These non-credit offerings will become available to local churches for in-house training, as well as Christian business and community leaders who are being challenged with living an integrated life.
Some of our professors and staff have had the opportunity to work with local churches to develop sermon series on the theology of work, to help pastors preach on this topic. One local church has embraced this issue with enthusiasm, hoping to become a model church for work and economics integration. Eighteen of its members work through the CLD Christians in the Marketplace series during the week, and gather on Sunday as an adult class to discuss their discoveries.
On October 30, 2013, we hosted our first CO-LABOR luncheon for key church and business leaders. CO-LABOR seeks to restore vital connections across these boundaries, and to support pastors, business leaders, educators, and community leaders in their unique and crucial roles by forging mutually supportive partnerships.
ON at Dallas Theological Seminary
Darrell Bock, senior research professor of New Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary and the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement are new kids on the Oikonomia Network block. Through the Hendricks Center, we are putting together a conference on faith, work, and economics called “Your Work: More than a Paycheck.” We are also adding regular faith and work discussions to our series of cultural engagement podcasts, The Table. We taped our first podcast in September for release in early 2014. Faith and work will also be the topic of interactive chapel presentations for students. Focused faculty meetings are one more part of our plan to spread the integration of faith, work, and economics.
Who is our audience? We hope to encourage church and lay leaders, as well as seminary faculty and students. The Your Work Conference takes place April 4-5, 2014, and will feature Scott Rae, Bill Pollard, Tom Nelson, and Henry Cloud. Our hope is that this will become the pilot version of an annual conference that we can take around the country to encourage other metropolitan areas with these themes.
A key goal is to help seminarians and others see that creating a secular/sacred divide when it comes to our 9-to-5 day does little to honor God or produce healthy discipleship. We want to encourage a view of human resources that leads to service and development, reducing unnecessary dependence. Stewardship before God is a theme that ties into the call in Genesis 1 to be vice-regents in managing the earth God created. Our hope is to bring attention to this biblical theme that permeates Scripture.