Jim Hislop, director, Center for Leadership Development, Western Seminary
This year we began a new initiative to multiply the impact of our understanding of the theology of work and its implications in six local churches in the Portland area. We are in the middle of launching phase one of a two-phase initiative. We have engaged six seminary students in what we are calling our Student Ambassador Program. Each student is required to be established in a local church, have a church staff mentor and a marketplace mentor, as well as permission to lead a small group in the church during the winter/spring term.
During the fall term we are meeting for four “Lunch and Learns” using Tom Nelson’s book Work Matters, the Economic Wisdom Project and several video talks to introduce the students to the truth that faith and work are integral. At the beginning of 2016, each student will lead a small group in their local church through 12 hours of our web-based Christians in the Marketplace courses. Two courses are required: Theology of Work (4.5 hrs.) by Gerry Breshears and Theology and Economics (3.5 hrs.) by Greg Forster. The students will choose other courses tailored to their group to complete the balance of the 12 hours.
Each student will receive a scholarship equivalent to one credit hour, plus a small stipend for their time at the “Lunch and Learns,” upon successful completion of the program.
Mark DeVine, associate professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School
The third iteration of our elective masters-level seminar focusing on faith, work and economics is now meeting. This course, now entitled Between Sabbaths: Faith, Work and Economics on the Other Six Days, has gained popularity with students and has proven to be an especially effective and satisfying component of our program here at Beeson Divinity School.
The professor delivers three days of lectures to introduce the subject matter and launch the course, which moves into a seminar format for the remainder of the semester. Students prepare short papers on common readings from three texts:
Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to Gods Work (2012)
John Schneider, The Good of Affluence: Seeking God in a Culture of Wealth (2002)
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1990)
The Schneider text in particular has received very positive reviews from students. They note that its biblical-theological approach allows them to engage the material using competencies and tools they are gaining in their other seminary courses. This prepares them to engage the more economics-heavy Novak book with more confidence.
Perhaps the most satisfying student comments about the course, as we near the end of each semester, is that our study has opened their eyes to a vast subject area that, though previously neglected and even unnoticed by them, receives much attention in Holy Scripture and proves utterly relevant to the lives of the congregants they are called to serve.