San Diego Pastors Day on Work and Vocation
Scott Rae, professor of Christian ethics, Biola University
Helen Mitchell, director of our Talbot Center for Faith, Work and Economics, and I recently spent a day with about 30 San Diego area pastors discussing work and vocation. This gathering was sponsored by Thrivent Financial, a local financial services company owned by Christian partners that sponsors events like this to serve the church. We had a rich day of dialogue, as many of the pastors had not thought theologically about the importance of work and vocation in the Christian life. In our discussions, we emphasized that to equip congregants for the majority of their lives, pastors need to integrate material on work and vocation into the life of the church. We encouraged them to change how they talk about vocation and “ministry,” and to adopt pastoral practices consistent with a holistic theology of work and vocation.
This was one of several networks of pastors and churches that the Talbot Center has served in the past two years. In the coming year, we are being more intentional with Korean churches in Southern California. We have found that cultural factors can make it more challenging in to recognize the importance of a theology of work, so we have enlisted pastors and seminary faculty to help introduce us to key churches in the area. The Center serves as a church consulting resource and we are looking forward to seeing progress through our partnerships with churches in the coming school year.
Discipleship, Poverty and Reconciliation
Darrell Yoder, director of Talking Points and the Pirsig Fellowship, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
At Grand Rapids Theological Seminary we are in the final stages of a two-year project on connecting the church to work and the economy. In this project, we engaged over sixty pastors and ministry leaders from West Michigan in a four-month introductory learning process, with special attention given to issues related to poverty and justice. Participants attended our seminary’s “Talking Points” events, which are being developed into a video-based curriculum slated for release in early 2017 (watch our website at that time to see the videos).
This new curriculum will be called “Everyday Works: Rethinking What You Do and Why It Matters for the Kingdom.” It will have four parts: 1) “Work is Good” with Michael Wittmer 2) “Live the Kingdom” with Amy Sherman 3) “Flourish for Others” with Rudy Carrasco, and 4) “Expand the Circle” with pastors Artie Lindsay and Peter Greer. Each session will include full-length presentations, short video clips for group discussion, extras to dig deeper into select topics, and a study guide.
We are excited how pastors are seeking to help people connect their Sunday worship to their Monday work life. We are especially pleased with how the speakers in this curriculum weave together discussions of poverty, justice and reconciliation. At this time in our history, the need for reconciliation is greater than ever. Theological approaches to work and economic issues serve as a springboard for dialogue. The role of work and economy in pursuing shalom challenges people to view their own vocations in a new light, and to ask questions about what God is calling them to do and to become for his Kingdom. They begin, as Amy Sherman puts it, to look at their vocational power and find ways to bring flourishing, not just for themselves, but also for others in their everyday lives.