Moody Theological Seminary
Sajan Mathews, professor of systematic theology
Moody Theological Seminary, in partnership with its parent school Moody Bible Institute, is in its second year of building an Oikonomia Network program. We call our program the Faith, Work, and Economics Initiative. The first year of the initiative helped lay the foundation by beginning to incorporate faith, work, and economics (FWE) themes into the curriculum at MTS.
We are pursuing a five-pronged strategic plan:
- Education of Faculty. Our annual Fall Faculty Institute is attended by the combined faculty of four schools: Moody Bible Institute, Moody Bible Institute-Spokane, Moody Theological Seminary-Chicago, and Moody Theological Seminary-Michigan. At the institute in 2013, David Gill of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary spoke to the Moody faculty members about the significance of FWE themes and challenged them to incorporate these themes into their courses. The institute presented an ideal setting for this discussion, and feedback from the faculty was positive.
- Students Introduced to FWE Themes. This past year, all students entering the seminary in the semester programs were introduced to FWE themes upon taking the first course, Introduction to Theological Research and Digital Literacy. For students learning to use digital research tools, class discussion and assignments on FWE – including the 12 Elements of the Economic Wisdom Project – provided a topic for students to research and learn more about. Further, professor of pastoral studies Julius Wong Loi Sing conducted surveys of students as they started and completed the course. His report of his observations, conclusions, and recommendations was selected by the Oikonomia Network advisory committee as one of its “helpful models” of curricular integration.
- Educational Programs at Moody. In fall 2013, Moody Theological Seminary started three new educational programs in vocational stewardship: tracks in the MA and MDiv in Ministry Leadership programs, and a certificate program. Due to a late launch and the newness of the program, initial student enrollment in these programs was too low for classes to begin in the 2013-2014 academic year. After a renewed publicity effort, courses in the program have begun, and student interest and buy-in is building.
- Education of Pastors, People Working in Various Vocations, Students, and Faculty. This part of our initiative is reaching the Christian community outside Moody with public lectureships on the importance of FWE. The goal of these lectureships is to help pastors and people working in various vocations begin to see their worship and work as a seamless 24/7 discipleship to Christ. Lectureships are advertised via spots on Moody Radio Chicago. The first lectureship was held in April 2014. Author Jeff Van Duzer and Pastor Torrey Barrett, who has implemented FWE in his church, were the speakers. This lectureship was well received and attended by 110 people. This was followed by a lectureship in May 2014 by Pastor Tom Nelson, who addressed pastors from around the country at the Moody Bible Institute’s annual Pastors’ Conference.
- Marketing and Promotion of Programs. Moody advances the initiative through an active marketing and promotion plan. This is taking place in various ways, such as in-house advertising to attract existing undergraduate students, online campaigns to inform and attract the Christian community outside of Moody, and interviews aired on Moody Radio. Greg Forster, Gill, and I have each been interviewed on the national program Chris Fabry Live!; radio host Julie Roys attended the Acton University conference in June 2014 and interviewed a number of conference speakers.
The second year of the initiative actively builds on the foundation already in place. Of the five-pronged plan above, items two and three are continuing relatively unchanged. Item five, Marketing and Promotion of Programs, is focused specifically on attracting more students into the three vocational stewardship programs.
However, the major emphasis of the second year of the initiative is on item four, Education of Pastors, People Working in Various Vocations, Students, and Faculty. This emphasis is needed to bring together these diverse groups and get them talking to each other. Our goal is to build a solid network of people interested in implementing FWE in their spheres of influence.
Nine lectureships are planned during the 2014-2015 academic year at Moody’s Chicago campus. Four lectureships in 2014 include business leaders Bill Pollard on Aug. 28, Richard Warren on Sept. 25, Martin Ozinga III on Oct. 30, and Mark Wagner on Dec. 11. At each of the two lectureships held so far, more than 100 people were in attendance. Five more are planned for the spring. We view these lectureships as building blocks that we hope the Lord will use to expand this program through various presenters and participants.
Faculty education continues to be an important aspect of our work as well. Several Moody faculty have attended both the Oikonomia Network faculty retreat and Acton University. In addition, I attended the Pastors Intensive Training session at Princeton Theological Seminary organized by the Center for Faith and Work of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. These sessions, as well as the times of interaction and networking, proved to be priceless for mutual edification, and the sharing of ideas, and resources.
Looking to the future, the balance of education and public lectureships seems to be a good one. While education remains our highest priority, the public lectureships are helping people outside of Moody connect with our educational programs, especially vocational stewardship programs. These lectureships are also enabling them to see how valuable their work is in the eyes of God and how they can use their work to bring about economic flourishing while glorifying God. Moody is also blessed to have keenly interested faculty on each of its campuses and the full support of the administration. In the future, we hope to work together to expand our FWE initiative on each of Moody’s campuses.