Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good
Amy L. Sherman
Part Two: Discipling for Vocational Stewardship
Chapter 5 on faith and work integration opens Part two with some revealing statistics:
Fewer than 10% of regular churchgoers ... can remember the last time their pastor preached on the topic of work
The Leadership Journal has 152 matches for 'vocation' - 95% of these were on the vocation of the pastorate
The Christian Century only had 9 hits
Discipleship Journal produced 41 - only one of which was about faith and work integration.
Faith and work integration is not on the churches agenda it seems. And yet there are over 600 books on the topic - at least according to The Marketplace Annotated Bibliography by Pete Hammond, R. Paul Stevens and Todd Svanoe (2002).
Sherman draws upon David Miller's research in God at Work (2007). Miller identifies four approaches/ quadrants to work and faith 'integration:
Each approach has its strengths, but the best approach is one that adopts all four - the everywhere integrator. Sherman and her researchers looked at 15 marketplace ministries to see how many of them adopt an integrator approach.
The ministeries examined were:
- Blackaby Ministries International
- Marketplace Ministries
- Fellowship of Companies for Christ International,
- Kingdom Companies
- Breakthrough Fellowship
- Businessmen’s Fellowship USA
- International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen
- Christians in Commerce
- His Church at Work now WorkLife
- C12 Group
- Christian Businessmen Connection
- Life Chasers
- Marketplace Network/Made to Matter
- International Christian Chamber of Commerce (UK)
- Needle’s Eye Ministries
They found that none of them fit into quadrant 4 and none reflected the integrator approach.
It is obvious that much work is to be done!
Chapter 6 opens with an illustration from Doug Spada - the church needs to be an aircraft carrier not a cruise ship:
What is missing is the teaching of a biblical theology of work coming from the pulpit. We need to hear that work is not a result of the fall.
Sherman lists several labours that God is involved in: redemptive, creative, providential, justice, compassionate and revelatory. She maintains that pastors can 'explain the ways in which God is a worker, and then encourage their congreants to identify where their own labors fit'. She then examines some false ideas about work.
Chapter 7 looks at approaches that have been used to help congregations discover their gifting. She makes some good comments about the weakness of many of the 'tools'. The main one being is that they are primarily designed to help people serve the church.
Chapter 8 examines the characteristics of vocational stewards: servanthood, responsibility, courage,humility and being prepared to share power. Again the theoretical underpinnings are illustrated with excellent examples from the workplace of people who exhibit these important characteristics.