Made to Flourish and the Imagination
There is a growing movement across the country among pastors and congregational leaders to think more deeply about how Sunday faith connects to Monday work. In the last several years, there have been scores of new books, articles, blogs, and conferences on the subject. The messages, though varied, often incorporate some or all of the following ideas:
- Our work, whether paid or unpaid, has great value because we are made in the image of a working God. Therefore, work is not incidental to the mission of God in the world, but central. It is an integral part of God’s design for human beings. (This is something that members of Made to Flourish have been learning about in a current virtual workshop with Dr. Steven Garber)
- But we don’t always feel that way. That is because the curse brings difficulty, frustration, and at times, futility to our work. Workers are often exploited. Productivity limps along. Many struggle to find adequate work. Broken individuals build broken systems. As a result, work often stinks.
- Of course, that isn’t the full story. In Christ, both the worker and the work itself can be remade. Our redemption doesn’t only look forward to life in the new heavens and new earth, it also looks back to creation, as God in Christ restores us to bear His image as we were created to do. Our work in the world can point to God’s work, as we exercise dominion in ways that represent Him. Daily work becomes an offering of worship.
- Not only that, but work doesn’t end with the grave—in the new heavens and the new earth, we will work under unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever increasing cycles of productivity and enjoyment. When it comes to work, we were made for this.
There are depths to explore here which could occupy a lifetime of creative thought. Certainly, as pastors, we ought to cultivate a robust theology of vocation, not least of all because the people in our congregations spend a massive amount of their lives working. Where God’s purpose for work is faithfully and thoughtfully taught, it will meet a felt need and bring a sigh of relief. “My work does matter to God.”
But merely cultivating a robust theology of vocation and then communicating that to a congregation is only one side of the coin. For many people, the greatest disconnect may be one of imagination. In other words, even with a healthy theology of vocation, most people may say, “Ok, that’s all well and good. But now what?” Somehow, 30,000 foot theology doesn’t always translate into real life. How does a theological foundation on vocation help people deal with a demanding boss, a disappointed client, an underperforming team, a dead-end career, or the struggle to find work? These and a thousand other practical questions suggest that much of the challenge of connecting Sunday to Monday may be with the imagination. A weak imagination can short-circuit even the best theology.
That’s where you come in. That’s where this network comes in. Made to Flourish exists to bring pastors together to explore Biblical ideas, form relationships, and share best practices along the intersection of faith, work, and economics. In doing so, pastors all around the country are becoming better equipped to shape the redemptive imaginations of the people they lead. Together we are seeking to help those in our congregations say, “I understand in tangible ways how I can live out my faith at work. Sunday has very much to do with Monday.”
That’s the power of Made to Flourish. Will you join us?
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