At the creation, God the divine Worker created man the human worker. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it, (Gen 2:15 NIV).
The Disciple Nations Alliance has long taught the integration of Biblical faith and human work, about stewardship and economics. We believe all these are central to the life of the Christian and central to God’s purposes for humanity. Work is a gift and calling. We built something called Monday Church, an effort dedicated to “renewing culture by helping Christians function from a Biblical worldview in every sphere of society.”
In 2009 Darrow published LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day, a book-length treatment of this vital subject.
Currently we are writing a book on Proverbs. After all, Proverbs has a lot to say about work. And about a related subject, human flourishing. God intended that the creation flourish. That’s the context of human work.
All of that is to say that we were excited recently to come across a parallel effort by a partnership of evangelical seminaries. It’s called Oikonomia Network, “a community of evangelical seminaries equipping pastors to connect biblical wisdom and sound theology to work and the economy.” Eighteen schools (see the list below) are currently part of the network.
Work is a gift and calling …
To read their page is to see a reflection of the DNA teachings!
For millions of churchgoers today, Christianity is a leisure time activity rather than a way of life. 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. Work takes up most of life because God designed human beings to spend most of their time serving one another, cultivating blessings and making the world a better place.
Oikonomia, by the way, is the Greek word behind economics. It means “a task involving management and organization” (Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd Edition). We have written about this word here at DMF several times:
- Global Economic Crisis
- Shaping the Generation of the Future
- What Does Pope Francis Mean by “Capitalism”?
- Great Commission Utilitarianism
The Oikonomia Network articulates goals which we fully embrace and have ourselves promoted. For example,
Pastors should be 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.
The DNA is composed of practitioners and trainers. We heartily commend this group of academics who, like us, want to equip today’s church leaders in the essential arenas of work, stewardship, caring for the poor, and economics. We consider it simple faithfulness to the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate.
Here’s how the Oikonomia Network describes the approach to notion of stewardship.
We were given stewardship over the world so our work would make it flourish for God’s glory.
1. We have a stewardship responsibility to flourish in our own lives, to help our neighbors flourish as fellow stewards, and to pass on a flourishing economy to future generations.
2. Economies flourish when people have integrity and trust each other.
3. In general, people flourish when they take responsibility for their own economic success by doing work that serves others and makes the world better.
The church, and the world, needs this kind of initiative. Kudos to the people of Oikonomia Network.
– Gary Brumbelow
Oikonomia Network partner schools:
- Asbury Theological Seminary
- Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
- Azusa-Pacific Seminary
- Beeson Divinity School
- Bethel Seminary
- Biola University, Talbot School of Theology
- Dallas Theological Seminary
- Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
- Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
- Wesley Seminary
- Moody Bible Institute
- Seattle Pacific Seminary
- Sioux Falls Seminary
- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Western Seminary