Seminary, Church, and Marketplace
Jim Hislop, director, Center for Leadership Development, Western Seminary
At Western Seminary we are working to develop and equip “model churches” in the communities we have influence in. We ask the leaders of these churches to explore the issues of faith, work, and economics – to begin seeing their congregations not as a pool of volunteers to help get work done around the church, but as a flock of missionaries who need to be empowered and unleashed to cooperate with God to cause the gardens of their lives to flourish. We ask those church leaders to convene congregants who are interested in exploring these truths at a deeper level; we help facilitate a Christians in the Marketplace class for those congregants.
God is changing lives, and as a result changing churches, contributing to greater Kingdom impact. Recently we were about two-thirds of the way through the 20-week Christians in the Marketplace class in one of our model churches. We had been exploring Theology of Work and Theology and Economics and how to live out these truths in the context of running a business. I had watched light bulbs go on almost every week. One of the participants who owns a software company spoke up.
“A few months ago I had a difficult conversation with a client who ended up being right; I was wrong,” he said. “But he conducted himself during that conversation in such a way that when I hung up the phone I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if he is a Christian?’ As a result of taking this class and understanding that my business is a ministry to be run for the glory of God, I decided I wanted every client I ever talked to on the phone to wonder that same thing when they hung up from talking to me.”
Ethics and Immigration
Evan Lenow, Bobby L. and Janis Eklund Chair of Stewardship, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Each January, the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary gathers professors and leaders from around the Southern Baptist Convention to discuss work and economics. We usually focus on a specific ethical issue. This year we hosted 24 guests to focus on the controversial topic of immigration. Our goal was to understand theological and economic implications.
While most of us are aware that immigration is a hot political topic today, we find that most people in our churches do not take the time to consider the issue beyond the sound bites of radio and television. Our attendees engaged in conversation around five different presentations led by Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Rudy Carrasco, United States regional facilitator for Partners Worldwide; and Bill Goff, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southwestern Baptist.
The discussions addressed issues such as the biblical and theological implications of immigration, the economic realities for immigrants, host countries, and home countries, and the task of ministering within immigrant communities. Carrasco illustrated the economic difficulties facing immigrants while at the same time highlighting the responsibility of government to manage immigration. Duke drew from his experience on Capitol Hill to discuss the complicated nature of policy issues, and also called on Christians to look at immigrants through the lens of Scripture. Finally, Goff implored churches to work with immigrant communities for the sake gospel transformation.