Like the national faith and work movement, the Oikonomia Network (ON) is growing and maturing quickly. Here are four clear signs of how far we’ve come and how important your leadership is:
Mission: Work: Three weeks ago, the world’s largest website for religion – Patheos.com – launched a new “channel” carrying faith and work content. Patheos as a whole receives four million unique visitors and 12-13 million page views per month, so the launch of the “Mission: Work” channel is a big step forward for the faith and work movement. Our network, along with the Kern Pastors Network, is co-sponsoring the channel alongside two of the biggest and most widely respected names in the movement: Foundations for Laity Renewal and the Theology of Work Project. Articles from the ON newsletter and KPN blog are appearing alongside contributions from Steve Garber, Mark Roberts, the Theology of Work Project, the Acton Institute, and more. You already know how proud I’ve been to see our newsletter content shift to more faculty contributions – now you are reaching a huge audience! And for good measure, the channel is edited by Bethel Seminary’s Chris Armstrong, whose byline is already well known to the ON.
Bold Voices: A month ago, we met in Phoenix for our second annual faculty retreat. Our first retreat took place in 2013, and the bar was set high by Dallas Willard and other key Christian voices speaking boldly about problems that too many in theology and pastoral ministry are uncomfortable addressing. But we cleared the bar in 2014, with uncompromising messages of hope, virtue, and love for a broken world from Detroit Pastor Chris Brooks, author Katherine Leary Alsdorf, author and Pastor Tom Nelson, and others. The dynamic relationship between evangelical faith and an entrepreneurial economy is slowly but surely becoming a topic that can’t be ignored. Read more about the retreat here.
Classes and Events: In my first ON Point column almost a year ago, I focused on how many classes and events were sponsored by the network in 2012. Today, we’ve matured to the point where we have many other things to talk about besides numbers. But the numbers matter! Here’s the quantitative picture of our network as it stands today:
Advisory Committee: As we announced during the retreat, the network is forming an advisory committee. This represents a hugely important advance in the maturity of the network, establishing an intellectual and practical hub drawn from theological educators. The inaugural members of the committee are:
· Gerry Breshears, Western Seminary
· Donald Guthrie, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Trinity International University)
· Scott Rae, Talbot School of Theology (Biola University)
· Charlie Self, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (Evangel University)
The committee will identify a broad, diverse array of models – syllabi, events, publications, etc. – for schools and educators in the network to consider as they seek to improve programming. It will also help shape the content of our annual gatherings at Acton University, our faculty retreat, and elsewhere. Educators throughout the ON are encouraged to contact the members of the committee with thoughts, questions, and ideas.
There is much more success to celebrate as well! We eagerly look forward to what the Lord has for us in 2014. I’m immensely proud of you, and of what we are building together.