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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Can Such A Vision Be Restored?

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a pastor, a missionary to Native Americans, and the third President of Princeton University. Among his descendants have come scores of pastors and missionaries, 120 college professors, 110 attorneys, 60 authors, 30 judges, 13 college or university presidents, 3 congressmen, and one Vice President of the United States.

But there's more to the story.

While doing eight years of Ph. D. research on Jonathan Edwards, Dr. David Scott discovered something remarkable:

“One day…I came across the discipleship curriculum that the puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards had been trained in by his church in how to have a God-filled work life. They even had a name for it…'technologia,' a Latin term for their little-known method of teaching the art of God-centered work.... Edwards and his fellow students—future pastors and merchants alike—were tested in it in order to graduate from early Yale. The Puritans knew what it meant for the church to purposely pastor people in their work. We do not.”

The above is from an article published by WorkLife, Inc. (formerly called, "His Church At Work"), an organization founded in 2003 by Doug Spada for the purpose of helping churches to be effective in worklife discipleship today.

Dr. Scott, who is now a history professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, goes on to say: “If you asked an engineer in one of our churches what designing computer components has to do with the kingdom of God, my bet is that he or she probably could not pass the test. The reason is that we modern evangelicals have no functional equivalent for the systematic work life discipleship teaching that Edwards took for granted…”

The former custom of teaching people "the art of God-centered work" is no longer customary. For the most part, worklife discipleship has gone the way of men's powdered white wigs.

I'm glad the wigs are gone. But somewhere between Jonathan Edwards' day and our own, we lost something really vital: a systematic method for training followers of Christ in God-centered work. All kinds of work. As the English Puritan Pastor George Swinnock put it, "The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground."

This concept of work held by the Puritans was passed on by design, being systematically built into the mind and habits of "pastors and merchants alike."

But the vision to "purposely pastor people in their work," as Dr. Scott put it, has vanished, not only from formal education, but from nearly every church and home in the country.

Can such a vision be restored?

I'd like to think out loud with you about this in the weeks to come.

I highly recommend that you read Dr. Scott’s full article, at http://filemanager.silaspartners.com/dox/hischurchatwork/AnotherGreatOmission-WorkLifeandtheChurch.pdf

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