Hands holding dirt and a growing plant

Reflections on the Faith, Work, and Economics Conference

I recently attended a conference on faith, work, and economics sponsored by the Kern Foundation’s Economic Wisdom Project in Phoenix, AZ.  It was nice to be in 75 degree weather but even better was the valuable input from pastors and seminary professors who gathered from around the United States.

The themes of the Project are stewardship and flourishing, value creation, productivity and opportunity, and responsible action.  Twelve principles or “maxims” are articulated under these headings.  (Details at www.oikonomianetwork.org.)

Hands holding dirt and a growing plant

Here are some of the statements that caught my attention:

Greg Forster (Program Director for the Kern Foundation’s  Faith, Work, and Economics Program and Director of the Oikonomia Network)

  • People are motivated by contribution as well as compensation.
  • We need to emphasize cooperation and not just competition.

Tom Nelson (author of a fine book called Work Matters)

  • We need to be concerned about mutual contribution and not just individual contribution.
  • A robust theology of economic flourishing will include both neighborly love and brotherly love.
  • Pastors need to be fluent in theology and conversant in economics.
  •  People need to have capacity in order to be compassionate (See the Parable of the Good Samaritan.)

Christopher Brooks (pastor featured recently in Christianity Today)

  • People need to see that a supernatural message brings about supernatural transformation.
  • We need economic empowerment rather than poverty management.


Books I have read recently on the subjects of work, vocation and call that you might find worth reading

Do You Feel Called by God by Michael Bennett, 2012
I like this book especially because he agrees with me about how we need to change our common evangelical use of the word “calling”.

Every Good Endeavor by Keller and Alsdorf, 2012
Very accessible and church-based.

Follow your Calling by Bradley and Malwitz, 2011
Here are practical tools for finding one’s place in the world of work.  Good assessment tools.

Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman, 2011
This is one of my favorites because she does a good job of articulating the possibility of finding one’s sweet spot in the world of work by focusing on God’s purposes, one’s own gifts/abilities/talents/passions, and the needs of people.

Work in the Spirit by Miroslav Volf, 1991
For those who want to think deep thoughts.

About Ron Marrs

Ron Marrs is presently a Professor of Youth and Pastoral Ministry and Chairman of the Center for Ministry and Leadership at Western Seminary, Portland, OR. Ron is the leader of the Portland Youth Workers Network. He served at Westwood Baptist Church, a Converge church, for 24.5 years primarily as the youth pastor and then as executive/worship pastor. He has been married to Becky for 35 years, has three children and three grandsons. He is an elder at Hinson Baptist Church. He recently completed doctoral research in which he interviewed 26 people about their rookie youth pastor experiences along with 24 of their supervisors.

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