One year ago, Fuller Seminary joined the Oikonomia Network because we embraced ON’s vision and were eager to join with other seminaries in the vital work of “helping pastors equip people for whole-life discipleship, fruitful work and economic wisdom.”
We continue to put vocation at the center of our formation of students, requiring four core courses in which issues of vocation, work and discipleship are central. We encourage our students, and others we serve, to consider what we call the Central Integration Question: “At this point in your Christian journey, how do you envision your call to God’s mission in the world?”
In the past year, Fuller has developed and begun a D.Min. cohort focusing on Faith, Work, Economics and Vocation. Eighteen students gathered in October for the first ten-day intensive course of this cohort. There will be similar courses in 2018 and 2019, followed by the doctoral project.
This year, students focused on biblical material, seeking to gain a deeper and wider understanding of how scripture informs our understanding and practice of faith, work, economics and vocation. Matt Rusten, executive director of Made to Flourish, described his experience in the course this way: “This has been a great class. While I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying faith, work, economics, and vocation (FWEV) through a broad, theological lens, this cohort allowed me to engage with many biblical passages that I had never studied in depth. As a result, I have a much more robust understanding of how themes of FWEV run throughout the biblical narrative. Plus, I was grateful for the rich experience of hearing from others who serve in contexts around the globe.”
Every four months, FULLER magazine – an award-winning publication distributed to over 31,000 readers and available online – highlights a theme that is central to the seminary’s mission, such as Vocation, Reconciling Race or Reading Scripture Globally. The editorial board decided to devote the Winter 2018 issue to the theme of Work, asking me to be the guest editor for theological content. I’m now hard at work with the magazine team as they prepare this watershed issue. It will be an impressive way for Fuller to say to its diverse constituency that work matters – not only to God and the people of God, but also to the seminary. The issue features articles from three authors who spoke at the 2017 Karam Forum: Deborah Gill, Vincent Bacote and myself.
Though Fuller addresses whole-life discipleship, including work and economics, in its classes and a wide variety of programs, Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership focuses its efforts on these issues. The De Pree Center exists to serve marketplace leaders so they might live intentionally and wisely as disciples of Jesus in every part of life, including their daily work. The center does this by serving both marketplace leaders and churches through theologically rich resources and contextual experiences that meet the needs of marketplace leaders and the churches eager to serve them.
For example, the De Pree Center publishes Life for Leaders, a daily digital devotional that makes regular connections between faith, work and leadership. Life for Leaders is emailed without charge to over 4,600 subscribers each morning. The center also sponsors the Church & Marketplace network, which is a “network of marketplace leaders helping churches become incubators of faith and work integration.” It offers resources, hosts events, oversees a speakers’ bureau, and serves churches that are eager to grow in vocational integration.
In the past year, Fuller added to its academic ranks a new assistant professor with particular strength in matters related to work and the economy. Matthew Kaemingk, who had been the executive director of Fuller’s Institute for Theology and Northwest Culture in Seattle, is now assistant professor of Christian ethics and associate dean overseeing Fuller’s campus in Houston. Kaemingk helped build the Gotham Fellows program at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, then created and led the Cascade Fellows effort in Seattle. Currently, he is writing a book on work and worship.
Also, since Fuller joined the ON last year, my commentary on Ephesians in Zondervan’s Story of God series was published. This commentary shows, again and again, how the expansive theology of Ephesians provides theological underpinning and motivation for ON’s vision of whole-life discipleship, fruitful work and economic wisdom.
Fuller is grateful to be doing our work in partnership with ON. We have already benefited from the collegiality we experience as members of this network, and are eager to give back as well.