In a rapidly changing, globalized economy, how can we help people keep their daily lives rooted in the stability of God’s reality? In this insightful new video, Deborah Gill of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary interviews two leaders who are on the forefront of developing responses to that question: Lisa Slayton of Tamim Partners and Terry Timm of Christ Community Church of the South Hills. Together they explore how discipleship in the church can effectively cultivate the capacities necessary for faithful work in today’s economy that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
The Economic Wisdom Project offers faculty and students an invaluable resource: short and highly accessible videos connecting the best of theological scholarship to pressing problems in the public square and the economy. Through our Economic Wisdom Project Talks, students have access to brief, engaging, robust presentations from leading voices in theological fields. Consider assigning one of these talks to your students!
The latest release in the EWP Talks library is “Staying Rooted: Discipling People in the New Economy.” This video was recorded in Atlanta during Karam Forum 2020, in conjunction with a conference session on this topic. We are also releasing the video of that session, which features Gill, Slayton and Timm as well as Silicon Valley faith and work leader Christeen Rico, pastor DeLano Sheffield of Macedonia Baptist Church, and Michaela O’Donnell Long of Fuller Theological Seminary. Don’t miss Rico’s three big questions for recentering your perspective on God every day.
In “Staying Rooted,” Slayton and Timm share their experiences from years of work discipling leaders in Pittsburgh. Slayton highlighted how technological advances have far outpaced the ability of most workers to engage meaningfully with those changes and develop thoughtful responses to them. Christian leaders concerned with the spiritual formation of workers must be aware of these challenges, and develop theological responses adequate to them.
In the context of secularization within the workplace, Gill posed the question of how Christians might resist the rising pressure for workers to root their fundamental identities within their jobs. She asked how we might develop a robust theology of work that deeply affirms the goodness of work while also prophetically critiquing the dangers of grounding our identities within it.
In response, Slayton suggested that workplaces, whether consciously or not, catechize the people who work there. They may do this even more effectively and persuasively than churches. Workers are profoundly shaped by their work environments, and if these environments are unhealthy, they have the potential to impact Christians’ sense of meaning and identity in negative ways.
Timm agreed, and proposed an important distinction. God is himself a worker, so Christians live into their primary identity by following God through their work, not in the work itself. This way, Christians can be driven by a desire for faithfulness to God before all else.
Reflecting on the ways in which workplaces operate as habit-producing, spiritually-forming ecosystems, Gill also pointed to the potential for Christians to shape work environments by bringing their Christian identities with them into these spaces. She argued that churches have not done enough to equip Christians to do this well, and that this type of discipleship is more essential than ever in a new economy. Timm noted that there is a desire for good, ethical and effective leaders in the marketplace, a desire that Christians ought to be uniquely well-equipped and positioned to meet.
Slayton and Timm pointed to how the theme of work is woven throughout scripture, and speaks to our current challenges with gospel hope and wisdom. Timm highlighted the poetry of Psalm 1, which depicts the vibrant life of the one who roots themselves deeply in God. He noted that economic seasons come and go, and challenges in the workplace will ebb and flow, but “we can sink our roots deeply in the reality of God and trust him that he will be at work in us, through us and with us. As we allow God to direct our work, God will be glorified. We can put aside the anxiety and fear that has always been part of work. God wants to give his spirit to us to animate us to do the work he wants us to do in the world.”
This video will help equip your students to disciple people to see that, as we work, we can have the joy of partnering with God and the privilege of co-laboring with him to make the world more like it ought to be. Faithful work in the new global economy is possible only by being rooted deeply in the God who is a worker and who is at work within us to carry out his work in the world.
Check out our library of EWP Talks, which are categorized by topic so you can find a great talk for your classroom quickly. Consider assigning this and other talks to your students in the coming semester!