TOW in a Phygital World
We live in a phygital world—where we engage in both physical, in-person dialog as well as the digital realm of communication. Physical + Digital = Phygital. There is tremendous opportunity in this equation, but it can also be a recipe for fatigue. What a fitting time to engage in discussions about Theology of Work: great opportunity for living out our calling to work, but paired with the possibility of fatigue and disappointment if our theology is anemic.
In the pandemic season, we have found the need for ongoing creativity to meet an ever-changing context, while finding sustainable practices so that we can maintain our endurance. In the Creation Mandate, we have been called as vice-regents to join God in His creative work of cultural making. What a season for sustainable creativity in line with the Creation Mandate!
The design of our seminars utilized flexible creativity.
Our Seventh Day Baptist General Conference is a strong proponent of Sabbath Theology, which highlights our need for (and blessing of) God-given rest. The necessary complement to this is a robust Theology of Work.
During our 2021 Theology of Work seminars, the application of the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1-2) was a recurring highlight in discussions. The intentional stewarding of our gifts and talents in all of life, both when gathered as a church and scattered as a church deployed, has been a refreshing journey. As stated by the Mustard Seed Foundation,
“This grant was created to help institutions that are preparing pastors and church leaders to understand the purpose and importance of the Creation Mandate, and to help them prepare and resource new and practicing pastors with biblical, theological and practical tools for the workplace that can be taught by them to the people they pastor.”
We took this purpose to heart in our content. We met with bi-vocational pastors who are not only equipping their congregants for creative culture making in the Marketplace, but they themselves are directly involved! Especially in this season of fatigue, we found that engaging bi-vocational pastors was very impactful and encouraging.
Many of our bi-vocational pastors continue to struggle with a sense of 'second tier' or not being fully ministers because they earn income from "secular" sources. We really want to stem this sentiment, and open the door to a much more robust grasp of work.
We also directly met with active church leaders. Engaging with people employed in the traditional marketplace was beneficial, but we found some surprising connections with people who stated that they usually feel looked over with Theology of Work. Three groups stood out in this initiative to overlooked groups.
Focusing content to specifically connect with bi-vocational pastors and individuals overlooked by traditional Marketplace discussions offered great application. These conversations were also beneficial for people engaged in traditional marketplace work, who could move to a Theology of Work rather than simply developing a Theology of a Job.
As a catalyst for discussions, we provided the book Every Good Endeavor by Keller. We also provided access to Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job by Bakke. We utilized resources provided by the Bakke Graduate University and helpful books such as Kingdom Calling by Sherman and The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God's Purpose For Your Life by Guiness.
The footprint impact of this endeavor is much larger than the number of participants. The nature of this educational initiative is to be equipping to continue to make ripples. In addition, the creation of Theology of Work stories is intended to be a culture shaper for our General Conference of Churches, including many who are not directly engaged in the classes.
We are thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Mustard Seed Foundation grant opportunity, and certainly encourage others to consider engaging in this initiative.