The Call to Work (TC2W) course is a ten-session, workshop-based experience, catalyzing spiritual formation via faith and work integration. We’re a different kind of faith and work curriculum, and we’re now looking for a different kind of partnership with theological education.
While the majority of faith and work curricula do an excellent job of helping participants expand and deepen their theology of work, TC2W focuses much more on having a practical effect – helping participants actively practice their theology in their hour-by-hour of work and life. During the course, participants learn and practice three spiritual discernment exercises that serve as tools. Each tool helps them take a specific personal situation and attune to God’s presence in that situation, discern how he is at work and discern actionable next steps they can take to join in with what God is doing.
TC2W has brought together a tremendous team of leaders in the faith and work movement to guide our efforts. Our steering committee includes the Oikonomia Network’s own Greg Forster, Will Messenger and Alistair Mackenzie (Theology of Work Project), Mark Roberts (Fuller Theological Seminary) and Luke Bobo (Made to Flourish). Together, the team has created a program that is changing hearts, lives, relationships and a multitude of workplaces.
To date, TC2W has run mainly within churches, as a way to help church leaders equip their people for spiritual formation in their hour by hour of work and life. More recently, we’ve been hearing from seminary leaders that they too are looking for similar resources to help them equip their seminary students. TC2W is now exploring how we might help.
We are looking for seminary leaders to participate in a pilot cohort of TC2W this fall. This online, five-session taste will allow these seminary leaders to experience TC2W firsthand as part of their own spiritual growth. We would then ask those who see compelling value for themselves and their students to help us think through how we might contextualize, pilot and improve the experience for seminary students. We’ve already had some interesting ideas floated, including a seminary/church partnership creating mixed cohorts, where about half of the participants would be seminary students and the other half would be people from a local church coming from a diverse array of workplaces.
If any of this piques your interest, here’s a bit more background on TC2W course: To facilitate spiritual formation, practice and repetition with the tools are emphasized. Participants spend the majority of the workshops actively practicing the tools on real-life situations, coming to each workshop with a specific situation they’d like more of God’s help with. These situations run the gamut from “I think I need to quit my job” to “my teammates keep undermining me” to “I want to impress this new potential client” to “my two-year old won’t put her shoes on.” During the workshops, participants each take a turn as the speaker, processing through their own situation, and a turn as the listener, facilitating the use of the tool for the speaker.
As participants open themselves up to God, they typically receive relevant, practical help for their situations – by way of greater wisdom, peace, purpose and strength. And as they begin to repetitively practice more Christlike responses in their hour by hour, they find themselves beginning to develop more Christlike response habits. And with enough practice and repetition, they find themselves instinctively responding to daily situations in more Christlike ways, which is when they can say they are developing more Christlike character – where they are being spiritually formed toward Christlikeness.
Throughout the course, the cohort pays significant attention to the intentional cultivation of their community culture. Each workshop, participants are encouraged to actively practice relational dynamics that create an environment that is conducive to connecting with God – an environment marked by love, presence, acceptance, empathy, vulnerability and surrender to the Holy Spirit. As part of this, the group practices a style of listening where the main goal is to help each other attune to God’s presence and guidance. Participants actively practice being a loving, curious presence. They also actively practice not trying to fix, judge, give advice or provide answers to each other – which is easier said than done!
But it is well worth the effort to practice the tools and listening well. By the time the group has been together for six or eight sessions, people are typically opening themselves up to God in new ways, recognizing his love and sufficiency and taking beautiful steps of faith and courage in response. These cohorts truly become supportive and courageous spaces, where we’ve seen people: have that tough conversation with a colleague or friend; go out on a limb with a new idea; finally quit that job; reach out to an estranged relative and more.
The strong majority of participants who complete the course report spiritual growth, where they agree or strongly agree they’ve grown closer to God and have become more like Jesus in their response patterns to daily situations – where they report noticeable improvements in their fullness of life, fruit of the Spirit, and ability to maintain godly perspective in the midst of stressful situations. So far, we’ve seen great receptivity and growth with participants coming from a wide variety of vocational backgrounds – from doctors to Uber drivers to business owners to people currently unemployed.
We have never, however, done this with seminary students. We believe seminary students have much to gain, learning to approach their everyday situations – as students, friends, spouses and parents – as occasions to practice Christlikeness, to practice attuning to God’s presence and guidance.
TC2W is in need of seminary leaders to help us explore this opportunity and discern the path forward. If you are a seminary leader and are looking for ways to help spiritual form your students, while at the same time giving them a helpful program they can take back to their current and future churches, please contact me at email@example.com to discuss your thoughts and learn more about the fall cohort for seminary leaders.