In today’s pandemic-adapted alternative learning environments, Economic Wisdom Project Talks are an invaluable classroom resource. One of the most important methods to avoid losing students to “Zoom fatigue” in your digital or blended class is to switch teaching modes on a regular basis – every 20 minutes is a typically recommended length. Our 15-20 minute talks are professionally edited for maximum visual engagement, and are easily accessible on our new EWP website to help your class or ministry group stimulate theological insight.
And in this time of increased isolation, what better topic could there be for us to highlight than Spiritual Formation? See below for our full playlist on that topic.
Growing up in an economically impoverished family left Tom Nelson, president of Made to Flourish, with lasting soul scars. Observing firsthand his single mother’s persistence in difficult work to provide for her seven children, he grew up with lingering questions about the relationship between whole-life faithfulness to God and fruitful living – between economic activity and neighborly love. In this classic Economic Wisdom Project Talk, Nelson suggests that a fruitful life lived in relationship with God and others is fundamental to Christian faithfulness: “If we are going to be faithful, we must be fruitful.”
Nelson’s talk can be viewed on our new website featuring the complete Economic Wisdom Project Talks series. The Economic Wisdom Project takes an innovative approach to helping faculty and students develop a cohesive theological understanding of whole-life discipleship and vocational faithfulness. Consider how these visually stimulating talks might enhance your digital or blended classroom in the Age of Zoom Fatigue:
“Fruitfulness” is a theme that permeates the biblical text, and in many Christian circles, it has become common vernacular. But what exactly does fruitfulness mean, and how are Christians to approach living a fruitful life? According to Nelson, essential qualities of fruitfulness include relational intimacy, vocational productivity and neighborly love. These qualities are visible supremely in Jesus Christ, who provides believers with the ultimate model of faithfulness throughout a fruitful life.
Relational intimacy with God and others establishes the necessary foundation for a fruitful life. The triune God is inherently relational, and so are we as his image bearers. Cultivating intimate and thriving relationships with the Lord and with other people fuels all our endeavors: “at the heart of a fruitful life is an intimate life.” Intimacy with Jesus can be nurtured through the spiritual disciplines, rhythms that Christians throughout time and place have leaned into as they seek to grow closer to God. These spiritual disciplines “nurture intimacy with God and bear much fruit.”
Another key quality of a fruitful life is vocational productivity. Indeed, God created us for this very reason: “to be fruitful through vocational productivity.” This requires us to be engaged in economic life, participating in God-honoring work through our respective vocations. Nelson points to the woman described in Proverbs 31 as an embodiment of the vocational productivity God calls us to. This woman, the personification of wisdom, is engaged in ethical commerce for profit, laboring in the city to support herself and her family. Because of her involvement in the commercial life of her community, she is able to bear much fruit in a wise and faithful life before God.
Finally, a fruitful life is characterized by neighborly love. In scripture, the Parable of the Good Samaritan provides a moving example of what neighborly love ought to look like for believers. It not only entails compassion and sacrificial care for others, but also the economic capacity to do so. As Nelson says, “The Good Samaritan expresses Christlike compassion, but also expresses economic capacity. Not only administers first aid but also takes him to an inn,” and covers all his neighbor’s expenses. This generosity was possible for the Good Samaritan because “he had been vocationally productive in an economic system in the first century that was monetized.” As Christians seek to follow the Lord’s command to love others, developing the economic capacity to do so becomes an integral step. This is part of living a fruitful life.
This video and others in the Spiritual Formation series can be accessed on the Economic Wisdom Project’s new website. Come check out our entire library, and consider sharing an EWP talk with your learning community!