Bethel Seminary joined the Oikonomia Network in 2012. Since 2013, the Work with Purpose Initiative of Bethel Seminary has intentionally worked with seminary students and ministry leaders as they develop and implement a robust theology of whole-life discipleship. Along this journey, we are grateful for the partners like the Oikonomia Network and Made to Flourish as we seek to equip and empower seminary community members and pastors.
One example of how such partnerships help Work with Purpose meet its mission comes from our faculty and staff retreats. This spring we are moving into our fourth year of faculty and staff retreats with a specific focus on integration of theological perspectives on work and economic issues. These ongoing focused retreats are providing a dual benefit for our community. First, for new faculty and staff, this is a place for intentional exposure to our community commitments related to economic wisdom. Second, for faculty and staff participating in these retreats for multiple years, this provides a regularize place and time for us to take our community to the next level of community understanding and curricular integration.
As our seminary community continues to process the themes of work and economic wisdom together, we are able to take our engagement with seminary students to the next level of integrative engagement. The primary place we see this taking place is through our faculty idea grants. Based on the learning at the faculty and staff retreats, faculty are finding places to naturally weave in themes related to whole-life discipleship into the courses they teach within the seminary curriculum.
Bethel Seminary’s Work with Purpose initiative is continuing our mission in multiple pathways among the seminary community and the local church community. For more information on Bethel Seminary’s work, please explore our YouTube Channel with over 50 video resources or the Work with Purpose Initiative’s resource page.
At this spring’s faculty and staff retreat, we are expanding our understanding on both economic wisdom and how economic wisdom relates to urban communities. This year’s theme is The Economics of Neighborly Love, building on emphases in Tom Nelson’s recent book. In addition to faculty and staff engaging this book directly, our time together will also draw on video resources both from Bethel’s Work with Purpose Talks and the Economic Wisdom Project Talks. Building on the themes of Nelson’s book, through the course of our time together we will watch and discuss several targeted resources including Keith Reeves’ talk “Family and Opportunity in the Law and the Prophets” and Jeannine Brown’s talk “Renewal of Creation in the New Testament.”
In the afternoon we will bring the focus of our retreat to a conversation on what the economics of neighborly love look like in the urban context. Beginning our afternoon by watching Chris Brooks’ talk “Rethinking Urban Poverty,” we have invited four urban pastors and community leaders to join us for a conversation on the application of economic wisdom among urban churches and communities. We are looking forward to this community learning opportunity as our faculty and staff continue to lean into the application of economic wisdom together with the urban church community of the Twin Cities.
Rather than this being a one-off event, our focus on urban economic wisdom is part of a larger network of and conversation among local partnerships. One expression of this was a 2016 event Bethel Seminary hosted on our campus. Twin Cities Convene was an event designed to facilitate conversation among church and community leaders interested in discussing and acting on two critical issues confronting the Twin Cities community – the job vacancy crisis and high unemployment in minority communities.
Although there is high unemployment among some segments of the Twin Cities population, there is also a story of job opportunity with a growing job vacancy crisis. Helping church and community leaders see and respond to these challenges is part of the solution. Working with partners such as GoodCities, Made to Flourish, Transform Minnesota and many others, Twin Cities Convene was a vehicle for highlighting the priority of economic wisdom among churches and Christian leaders in the Twin Cities.
In 2018, we are excited that Pastor Chris Brooks of Evangel Ministries will join us to continue the conversation. In July 2018, Brooks will join us in order to help the seminary community and urban church leaders in the Twin Cities continue our engagement around the economics of neighborly love in the urban context. Not only will this help our seminary community grow in our understanding of urban economic wisdom, but Brooks’ visit will help to further share the conversation of whole-life discipleship among urban pastors and communities of color in the Twin Cities.