These models are basic concepts to spark thinking – we encourage pastors to enhance, alter, combine, any of these suggestions to suit their ministry context.
- YOU know your community (inside and outside your church walls) the best. If one of these model ideas gets your juices going – great! Run with it! But don’t try to force fit one of these models. Think outside these ‘model boxes’ – be creative, be bold, and be empowered!
- Long-term thinking as opposed to a one-and-done will have lasting impact and influence. How is your church’s ministry being infused with the integration of faith/work/economics that will last for years to come for greater human flourishing?
Goal: Cultivate an appreciation for work and vocation within a congregation by providing glimpses into where people spend most their day. Also, this provides a pastor with opportunity to discuss the workplace, discipleship, and the prayer needs of individuals.
Suggested Resource / Activities
Basic idea: Pastoral staff spends time with a variety of members of their congregation at their work. At minimum this could be spending lunch hour with them, but ideally this should include spending a full day or two with a parishioner in their workplace. After all the visitations have occurred, have all the parishioners who participated get together for a meal together to talk about it without the pastor(s) present. Have another meeting time with all present to discuss. In particular, the pastor(s) should seek open and honest feedback from their congregants about the experience and how they should be expected to change their ministry or teaching in any way. Perhaps bolster this project with a Part 2 that consists of reading through Every Good Endeavor or Work Matters together.
Youth and Vocation
Goal: Connect the multiple generations of the church; introduce youth and young adults to vocational discernment and practical examples of work and faith. Suggested Resource/Activities:
- Book study “Work Matters” (Nelson)
- Book study “Every Good Endeavor” (Keller)
- “Sticky Faith” (Powell, Griffin, Crawford)
- The Call of the Entrepreneur (DVD)
- For the Life of the World (DVD)
- Design a program to help discern calling/vocation within community and help navigate those important early life decisions like school, first job, etc.
Goal: Introduce persons (staff and volunteers) involved in mercy ministries to the critique of traditional models of “helping,” and invite them to explore redirecting traditional methods of charity into systems of genuine exchange.
- Toxic Charity (Lupton)
- When Helping Hurts (Fikkert)
- Poverty Cure (Acton)
- Walking with the Poor (Myers)
- Go on a retreat with the mercy ministries group and discuss what you do well, what could be improved and the practical and systemic obstacles hindering long-term effectiveness.
- Explore the idea of “Investment trips” (as contrasted with traditional “mission trips”) – found in Toxic Charity
- Partner with a local nonprofit to change their model from “just serving” to “working alongside”.
Compassion & Youth
Goal: Similarly, affirm interest in helping the needy while introducing the congregation to the critique of traditional models of “helping.” Invite the youth group to explore redirecting traditional methods of charity into systems of genuine exchange.
- Toxic Charity (Lupton)
- When Helping Hurts (Fikkert)
- Poverty Cure (Acton Institute)
- Walking with the Poor (Myers)
- Youth mission trip, to their own, or a nearby city, thoughtfully designed:
(Basic idea: put together a short mission trip where you help out a local business in a marginal part of your own town. Youth can learn the value of work, see good businesses as a form of ministry and as necessary to helping the poor and the whole community. Work in partnership with local organization. Work this into Wednesday talks – rather than “awesome missionary stories from Africa!” – encourage youth with stories of the good they can do locally, etc.)
Personal Financial Responsibility
Goal: Train Participants in principles of sound money/household management while highlighting the biblical vision of work and the economy.
- Church leaders’ reading group – “Work Matters” (Nelson) or other selection
- Financial Peace University (FPU). Note that this does not fit our donor intent as is and would need some component attached to it to highlight the biblical vision of work and the economy for it to be feasible and worthwhile. We will help you think through this.
- Generation Change (FPU for youth). See above.
- Sermon series to run concurrently with a financial management program
- Guest pastor in the pulpit or a guest presenter for a special event.
Community-Wide or Common Good Thinking
Goal: Discern the economic opportunities and challenges of your community and work together with other churches to serve the community.
- Host a series of dinners or meetings with local leaders to discern the economic opportunities and challenges of your community. Maybe work with the Chamber of Commerce or Rotarian Club, etc.
- Work with a local faith and work organization to help identify ways to support, encourage, teach local businesspeople and others.
- Convene multiple churches together to partner for a larger conference with each individual church bookending the conference with faith, work and economics related sermon series, small group tie-ins, vocational groups, etc.
- Create/implement opportunities for members to serve that specifically draw on their vocational talents.
Form Vocation Groups
Goal: Introduce adult church members to the doctrine of vocation and provide opportunities for interested members to participate in vocational formation groups for the purpose of wrestling together with the joys and struggles of working in a particular industry.
- Amy Sherman (Vocational Stewardship, “Kingdom Calling”)
- Steve Garber (The Washington Institute)
- David Kim (Redeemer’s Center for Faith and Work)
- Jon Tyson (Center for City Renewal)
- Do a congregational “survey” or listening tour to discover the various vocational clusters and industry concerns of your community. What are people thinking about personally and how are the larger economic realities affecting your community as a whole? Host dinners to start the ball rolling and/or find leaders to host various vocation-specific dinners themselves.
Congregational Worship & Pastoral Care
- Pray for members by vocation during worship service
- Incorporate faith, work, economics integration into weekly pastoral prayer.
- Preach Multi-week sermon series on work/vocation
- Infuse preaching with workplace illustrations/applications
- Pray for congregants by vocation in worship services
- Record video testimonies of congregants re: their work or publish stories of their vocational stewardship in church publications
- Incorporate vocation themes into liturgical practices
- Incorporate new visual symbols/images highlighting vocation
- Recognize vocational achievements during services
- Conduct “commissioning” ceremonies at appropriate times for different individuals/groups who serve in particular vocations
- Create time in Sunday worship or during adult Sunday School to allow for testimonies by church members concerning how they follow Christ in and through their work.
- Give attention to work in pastoral care (e.g, through offering vocational discernment counseling, being more intentional to ask congregants about their struggles and triumphs at work, etc.)
- Hold business leaders’ luncheons every other month
- Pastoral staff doing personal reading/study on economics and news re: various vocations and industries
- Hold conference on Faith/Work/Economics
- Infuse Vocation into adult education curriculum
- Infuse vocation discussion/teaching into Small Groups
- Launch long-term discipleship initiatives
- Conduct discussion group on work/book group(s) on books about work/vocation
- Create/use new tools to help congregants integrate F/W/E
- Offer an adult-education class that helps participants discern the dimensions of their vocational power (skills, networks, etc.), and gets them talking about how to deploy that power to advance the kingdom in and through their work.
- Encourage the church’s small groups to incorporate regular times of discussion and prayer focused on members’ work lives.
- Add an “on mission at work” section to your missions wall, with photos of church members from various occupations and a short description of one way they are practicing vocational stewardship.
- Revise church mission or vision statement to more explicitly address transforming culture.