By Gideon Strauss

(Continued from yesterday.)

Reflecting in the aftermath of the Faith & Work 2.0 conference hosted by Serving Leaders in Pittsburgh last week, I suggested three elements that would further enliven the Faith & Work movement in my Fieldnotes Magazine piece yesterday: (1) Vocational discipleship may well be most sustainable when it takes place in the local church; (2) There are probably rich resources for vocational discipleship indigenous to every Christian tradition – not only the Catholic and Reformed traditions; and (3) The true potential of the faith and work movement lies in it being truly a movement of (all) the people of God, and not a privilege limited to a white collar bubble of executives and professionals. To continue …

Pittsburgh is a signpost toward Faith and Work 2.0

Pittsburgh is a signpost toward Faith and Work 2.0

4. The Faith & Work movement of the future will benefit greatly from more lay theologians exegeting the vocational domains that they know from the inside out.

Fuller Seminary PhD student Cory Willson argues that a proper theological and missiological understanding of the various vocational domains into which people are called to participate in the mission of God requires cultural exegesis from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. The difference, he suggests, is similar to that between the cultural understanding a cross-cultural missionary has of a culture into which they are sent and the cultural understanding of a native convert. He suggests that equipping lay Christians with robust theological and missiological resources with which to work out the implications of the gospel for the vocational domains in which they work – from, say, accounting to fashion, from investment banking to automotive mechanics – will open up significant new possibilities for participating in the mission of God in and for those domains. Shifting priority in theological leadership from academic theologians or ordained clergy to lay theologians would require a significant advance in the quality of catechesis.

5. The Faith & Work movement will be more resilient if it expands its contribution to range from the individual level, through the level of organizations, to the level of markets and the global economy, so that it eventually emphasizes individual faithfulness and ecosystemic renewal equally.

As I write this I am participating in the annual Senior Fellows retreat of the think tank Cardus, which has as its mission “the renewal of social architecture” — a metaphor in part derived from Abraham Kuyper’s insistence in the late 19th century that Christian contributions to the revitalization of cultures require more than individual good intentions, but must be informed by an ecosystemic diagnosis, an “architectonic critique.” Today’s conversations reminded me how wonderful it was at the Faith & Work 2.0 conference to see exemplified by the participants from the city of Pittsburgh a commitment to such an architectonic critique — really working hard to understand their city as a social ecosystem. Even better was to see their efforts to move from diagnosis to coherent collaboration. Through a weave of interpersonal and inter-organizational relationships, with entrepreneurs serving each other as friends and peer mentors, with churches encouraging each other in their work, with Serving Leaders discipling and equipping leaders from various vocational spheres, the people of God in Pittsburgh are seeking the welfare of their city in full recognition that this task requires both individual commitment and ecosystemic collaboration. How wonderful it would be for many more cities to be served in this way.

Faith + Work 2.0 facilitators Sean Purcell and Francois Guilleux with conversation visualizations

Faith + Work 2.0 facilitators Sean Purcell and Francois Guilleux with conversation visualizations

If you were to make your own list of five things that would move the Faith and Work movement forward, what would they be?

Gideon Strauss is the executive director at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and also editor of Fieldnotes Magazine.

Fieldnotes Magazine is a publication of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. We would love to hear from you about people, businesses, or other organizations we can interview or feature. Please email the editor at Fieldnotes Magazine.

 

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