Helpful models of curricular integration: The syllabi mentioned in this article were selected by the ON Advisory Committee as “helpful models” for network faculty to consider.
The Economic Wisdom Project has released a new central document, and the Oikonomia Network now reaches more students than ever before. A growing body of ON syllabi proves that seminaries can teach future pastors about the economic realities that shape their congregants’ lives with theological and missional integrity. In both quality and quantity, the ON continues to grow into a leading role, helping the church get beyond “faith and work” for the isolated individual to the social and culture dimension of work that we call “the economy.”
A New EWP Document
The genesis of the EWP was the development of 12 “elements of economic wisdom” that express general moral truths ordinary people need to know about economics. After receiving feedback on the 12 elements from theological educators throughout our network over the course of a full year, the ON released the first central document of the EWP – the vision paper “A Christian Vision for Flourishing Churches and Communities.” This paper is available as both an online flipbook and PDF, and theological educators can also request printed copies for a variety of uses.
Feedback on the vision paper revealed both success and a need for further growth in the EWP. The vision paper has been very successful in communicating the overall vision of theology and economics at the heart of the EWP, and regularly receives high praise for this. The ON now distributes over 1,000 hard copies a year to its member schools. However, not long after the paper was published, the newly formed ON advisory committee discerned that further development of the 12 elements themselves was needed. Feedback on the vision paper confirmed this.
The new document, titled “The Twelve Elements of Economic Wisdom,” was developed by the ON committee. It briefly explains the thinking and historic Christian practice behind each of the elements. We hope it will continue to spur new conversations and innovative thinking and practice as the church reconnects its faith with the social and cultural structures of work.
The new document is currently available only as a PDF. Feel free to link to it or print it out. We do not currently have plans for a hard copy but would consider that option if theological educators in our network request it. We look forward to hearing from you!
Economics in Theological Syllabi
The EWP is not the only way the ON is advancing the church’s conversation about economic structures and practices. The syllabi selected by the ON committee as “helpful models” include quite a few that address economic issues.
“Faith, Business, and Money” at Sioux Falls Seminary is co-taught by eight faculty; intentionally incorporates biblical, systematic, and historical theological lenses; and assigns students to reflect on the 12 EWP elements. Three special topics classes at Seattle Pacific address “Entrepreneurship and Mission,” “Spiritual Capital,” and “Theology of Business.” At Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, a special version of the “Social Ethics” class designed for an urban focus program deals with an extensive variety of economic issues. “Church and Society” at Biola includes insights on “the poor, Christianity and capitalism” and “business ethics.” A Bible research class at Moody assigned students to research the twelve EWP elements. And, of course, the well-known “Church and Entrepreneurship” class at Gordon-Conwell helps pastors and potential entrepreneurs discover the principles of business together, in preparation for launching a small business.
Our helpful models also include (by permission) a class from beyond the ON, “Christianity and Economics” at Pepperdine University. This class was specially designed by Kenneth Elzinga – one of the most widely respected Christians in the economic field – while on a visiting professorship there. It combines extensive theological reflection with economic instruction.
Of course, our community is still at the beginning of the curricular integration process. We trust the Lord will continue to guide us in mutual learning and reveal more effective ways of equipping pastors to understand this critical dimension of human life.
The ON’s Growing Reach
We are growing not only in quality but in quantity. In 2014, our programs affected 98 classes with a total enrollment of almost 2,000 students. Network schools also sponsored 176 extracurricular activities with a total student attendance of over 8,100. It is humbling to consider that the ON consisted of nothing more than a handful of quite small grants before 2012, and did not even finish adding new major partners (for a total of 18) until November 2013. We never dreamed that so soon after building these partnerships, we would already be equipping so many people.
We are unspeakably blessed by our great God to have achieved so much so quickly. We are mindful of the challenges still ahead. We pray he will continue to bless our efforts.