Here are more sample assignments to help inspire fresh thinking about how to incorporate a concern for vocation, flourishing and economic justice across the curriculum. As in my last article – which covered biblical studies, theology, preaching and liturgy – several of these ideas were adapted from the Theology of Work Project article “TOW For Scholars and Academics.”
- Spiritual Formation
Ask students to write a spiritual narrative of their journey with Christ – focusing on their work. Such narrative-based assignments are common in spiritual formation classes, so you may simply want to add this as an additional focal point to a narrative you already assign. Where have your students seen God in their callings to work, both paid and unpaid? How have they served God in their work up to this point? How do they see their callings within the larger context of the body of Christ in ministry?
2. Church History
Ask students to write a lesson plan – including modern-day application questions – for teaching in a church educational setting (Sunday School, small group, etc.) about some aspect of church history dealing with work, vocation or discipleship (whether this be a movement, figure, event or famous text). Some potential ideas can be found here.
Ask students to
- Read and critique one of the work-focused sermons on the TOW Project page. What do they admire and find useful about the exegesis, structure, and illustrations? What would they change? How could the sermon be adapted to their own setting?
- Write their own sermon on the given passage in light of their study of the TOW Project sermon.
Ask students to write a paper addressing the following question:
Lesslie Newbigin’s book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society includes a chapter about “The Congregation as Hermeneutic of the Gospel.” Newbigin says: “The congregation has to be a place where its members are trained, supported and nourished in the exercise of their parts of the priestly ministry in the world. The preaching and teaching of the local church has to be such that it enables its members to think out the problems that face them in their secular work in the light of their Christian faith.” Explain how you respond to this statement from Newbigin. Describe a number of specific strategies that might help to facilitate “the congregation as hermeneutic of the gospel” in your local church setting. How could you communicate both this challenge and your practical suggestions to your church leadership team?
The TOW Equipping Church Overview paper might provide additional resources for this essay.
5. Worship, Liturgy, and Church Music
Ask students to list ten hymns or songs, preferably from their own traditions, that emphasize discontinuity between earth and heaven, or between our current work and the new creation, with explanations. Then ask them to list ten (if they can!) which affirm the holy in the everyday and a continuity between our work and the new creation, with explanations. Possibly, follow this up by asking students to attempt to compose lyrics to a new hymn or song affirming an aspect of work or creation.