Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Richard Lints, vice president for academic affairs and Andrew Mutch Professsor of Theology
Over the past several years, our faculty have explored, in a variety of ways, the multi-dimensional character of faith, work and economics. They have done this by strategically engaging the relationship between our community and curriculum, and helped preparing pastors to bridge the Sunday to Monday gap and helping future pastors understand the world of work – both their own world of work, and that of their future parishioners.
Student Reading Circles
During this past year we have started 10 reading circles which are spread out across all four of our campuses. Each reading circle is led by a faculty member and includes 10 students. They meet monthly to discuss a significant book or series of articles on topics of peculiar interest to the faculty member on faith and work. These have included groups reading about a Biblical theology of work, ecclesial understandings of vocation, the impact of a secular age upon our understanding of work, the relation between the criminal justice system and poverty, and global economics and mission. Each group of students will prepare a video presentation at the end of the year that highlights the key takeaways of their group.
Faculty Research Projects
Individual faculty members have continued to research and write on faith, work, and economics from the vantage point of their own discipline. Past projects have included:
- Economic trade routes in the ancient near east
- Preaching about money
- Marketplace networks in the African American community
- Assessing stewardship intelligence among seminarians
- Biblical interpretation in economic contexts
- Theological notions of economic justice
- The health and wealth gospel
- The God of good work
- The hermeneutics of the workplace
- The theology of productivity in Nehemiah
- Work and exile in Ezra
- Health care economics
For the past three years, we have held a faculty retreat around a topic related to faith, work and economics. These have been wonderful times for building community around a strategic topic and highlighting a set of rich resources. We have found that the relaxed environment of a retreat setting greatly encourages robust discussion of strategic issues. At our 2015 retreat, Tom Nelson guided an incredibly fruitful time of reflection on the seminary’s role in bridging the Sunday-to-Monday gap.
In January, my co-mentor (John Truschel) and I began the second edition of our online course – Faith, Work and Economics. John is a chief investment office for a large firm in Boston and I am an eggheaded theologian. It has proven a wonderful collaboration for our students The course is a full three credits and cross-listed between the departments of Theology and Ministry. We designed the course to introduce the students to a primary question – what do parishioners in the ordinary world of work wish their pastors knew about their working lives? We have created a variety of formats to get at that question – from interviewing each other, to borrowing several of the TED-style talks from the Boston Faith@Work Summit, to conversations with the founders of the Theology of Work Project, to interviewing a group of churches that collaborate in helping twenty-somethings discern their working vocation. Assignments include workplace interviews, forum posts on key issues, personal theologies of work, and a summative video project addressing an economic issue in the life and work of a pastor.
A final initiative now in its third year is the Entrepreneurship course, taught by the renowned Mockler-Philips Professor of Workplace Theology and Business Ethics David Gill, and a pastoral collaborator, Rev. Larry Ward. In this three credit course on the dynamics of entrepreneurship in the life of the urban church, they collect 15 individuals who commit to start a business during the semester, and connect them with a coach in a church. David and Larry then bring them all together for a semester of classes on a wide variety of topics that connect vocation, entrepreneurship, the church, and the flourishing of the city. It has been a fantastic success and has left a lasting imprint on these budding young entrepreneurs.
We look forward to continuing these efforts in the coming year.