Most adults spend the bulk of their waking hours doing some type of work. That’s because God designed mankind to work—to be His partners in stewarding His creation and contributing to human flourishing.
But many Christians don’t connect God to their work. To them, work is nothing more than a means to an end and part of living in a fallen world.
Why do they view work like this? Because they see Christianity as a leisure time activity rather than a way of life, according to Dr. Greg Forster, director of the Oikonomia Network at the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University.
“The main reason is that discipleship has been disconnected from the largest portion of life – our economic work in the home, in our jobs, and in communities … Because work is central to human dignity and discipleship, the economy – the social system through which individuals organize and exchange their work and its fruits – is central as well.”
Oikonomia Network is committed to helping train pastors who are prepared to:
1) Affirm the basic goodness of work and make it a priority to empower people in their callings and responsibilities outside the walls of the church.
2) Prepare people to discern their callings and how they are equipped for service, encourage them to pursue excellence in their work and help them nurture a sense of meaning and fulfillment in how they do it.
3) Encourage people to live morally and spiritually integrated lives; avoid language and practices that cultivate a dualistic mindset (e.g. “I left my job in order to go into full-time ministry”).
4) Affirm the importance of work done by the least advantaged and the socially marginalized, and by those whose areas of service are not always understood to be economic.
5) Affirm the basic goodness of business and economic activity, and distinguish economic motives and practices based on value creation from those based on value extraction.
6) Be aware of the changing economic forces impacting their communities and help people respond to those changes in virtuous ways.
7) Culturally contextualize their ministry by working with, learning from and empowering laypeople; by exegeting life across multiple social contexts (e.g. home/workplace/community) and sectors of the congregation; and by casting a future-oriented vision for virtuous membership and participation in the civic community.
8) Equip people to describe their approach to life in moral language that is appealing to those who do not possess a clear faith or a biblical worldview, and who are not yet welcoming explicit evangelism.
Read more about Oikonomia Network in “Theology That Works,” a 6-page paper by Forster.