Note: This interview highlights the small-group video study curriculum “Jesus and Your Job,” from the Theology of Work Project.
What are the big insights people will get from this video series?
When people – both inside and outside the church – hear the word “Jesus,” they might think of a church building, or of “heaven,” or the state of their soul, but they will seldom think of Jesus and their job. Yet Jesus cares deeply about how we live our lives, and much of our lives is spent working. This class will help people connect Jesus and their day-to-day labor, whether we are thinking about the valueof the work they do as an expression of God’s goodness in creation, or the waythey do their work so that they express God’s love for their co-workers. Not only will people hear about Jesus’ deeds and teaching as they relate to work, they will be able to hear from people in a variety of professions explain how they put those values into practice in their jobs every day – so it’s not just theory, it’s practice. Engineers, artists, counselors, food service workers, tradespeople – all share how God shapes their everyday labor.
What was your role in helping create the series? What was especially valuable to you about that experience?
I have been part of the Theology of Work project for over a decade now, and so I am always thinking of ways to help people integrate their faith and work. I decided to focus on Jesus’ teaching both to keep the content manageable and to underline how important our everyday work is to the spread of God’s kingdom. One of the benefits I had not envisioned, however, was the appreciation people felt at being able to hear from their friends and neighbors about their work life. It really served to bring our congregation together in some very fresh ways.
What life changes do you hope to see in people as a result of this series?
I hope people will view their work in a fresh light as they see how Jesus’ teaching can shape their life day by day. I also trust they will find encouragement as they hear from people in similar fields speak about the ups and downs of serving God in the workplace. This in turn can help foster deeper relationships in churches as people open up about a significant facet of their lives that often goes unspoken on Sundays.
What sets this series apart from the other resources on faith and work that are available?
One distinctive is the focus on Jesus: rather than spreading the teaching across the whole of the Bible (which can be a little daunting), this course goes deep into the stories and teachings of the gospels. Another is the emphasis on hearing people speak out of their work experience. This is in turn serves to build community as congregants learn more about one another.
What are some of the specific ways churches and theological schools could use this series?
From its inception, my goal for this course was to see it reproduced in other churches: the main thing is to hear from people in your own community how they integrate faith and work. Congregations could, for instance, watch the teaching portions of the videos and then host their own panel discussions; use the whole video series as a stimulus for small group discussions; or simply adapt the basic format – Jesus and Your Job – and develop the teaching and the discussions in their own way.
“Jesus and Your Job” from the Theology of Work Project