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, February 26, 2016

It's All God's Stuff

While some of the country is freezing, we're having an early spring in Seattle. Yesterday I head someone  mowing the lawn. Soon the cherry trees on the University of Washington campus will be in bloom. Which reminds me...    

I was once 1 of 35,000 students there. Inside every chest, a small pump expanded and contracted 100,000 times a day without a thought. These fleshy little drivers kept us all going, even during sleep, whether in class or in bed. 

Every professor's brain contained more cells than stars in the known universe. The electrochemical communication that flowed among 100 billion neurons allowed each instructor to do his or her work. Whether atheist, agnostic, or believer, each professor and student was continuously held together by the sustaining power of Christ's word (Heb. 1:1-3). He gave us all breath, 14,000 times a day. (Acts 17:25)

Christ sustained us all, both teacher and student, whether knowingly or not, quarter after quarter (Col. 1:16-17). God owned us, too. All of us. "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains. The world, and those who dwell therein." Psalm 24:1. All around me, I saw walking miracles, created in the likeness and image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

What was secular about all this? Nothing.

Evergreen trees and rhododendrons were everywhere. And the buildings! Were they human creations? Yes. Designed and constructed by image-bearers of God who could only produce such beautiful "secondary creations" because they were made in the image of the first Creator. Christ was holding those buildings together. He made and sustained the raw materials. 

I have never seen a secular building in my life. Some ugly ones, yes, because we live in a fallen world where people can do hideous things with God's stuff. But I've never seen a secular brick. It's all God's stuff.

I spent about six years at the University, earning two bachelor's degrees. One in music, and the other in German language and literature. Neither subject was a secular subject. Why? Because God created and sustains sound waves, and without this, neither music nor language can exist. God gives humans the amazing ability to think abstractly, speak and write language and song, though fallen souls distort them both. 

There is no secular subject at the University of Washington, although there is plenty of distortion going on. If it has anything to do with time, space, or matter, it's all God's stuff.

The best thing that happened during my time at the University of Washington was meeting a remarkable walking miracle by the name of Kathy Marie Carlson, whose name was changed to Overman. This brilliant woman earned her Mrs. degree in just two years! This photo was taken on the U.W. campus, under the blooming cherry trees, about four months before we tied the knot, 45 years ago.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Theology Of Work Project

A group of biblical scholars and workplace practitioners went through the entire Bible to examine what each book teaches about work.

Last week we shared a tool we use in the WRAP program, called, 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing. It's a kind of "periodic table of worklife elements." If this piqued your interest, you may want to explore the Theology of Work Project.

The Theology of Work Project pulled together teams of scholars and workplace practitioners for the sole purpose of researching the topic of work in every book of the Bible. Yes, every book of the Bible. This has been a laborious process, over multiple years, involving many writers, with peer reviews and intensive critiques, to ensure the highest standards of biblical integrity.

We recommend this resource to you, and invite you to take a closer look here.

Friday, February 12, 2016

62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing

There's more than one Periodic Table of Elements.

A few years ago, I was in the office of a school principal sharing with members of her leadership team about the need to restore theology of work to the P-12 curriculum. One of the leaders asked: "What do you mean by theology of work?"

Fair question! The short answer is: "What the Bible teaches us about work." But that answer doesn't tell anyone what the Bible teaches us about work! 

What is "theology of work?"

For the Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project [WRAP], Worldview Matters developed a 1-page reference tool that helps students─and teachers─to grasp the meaning of "theology of work." We call this document, 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing.

This reference tool is not an exhaustive treatment of "theology of work." (There is only so much one can get onto a single page!) But 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing is a representative list of bullet points to "get the juices going" in classroom conversations centering around the work students are currently doing, or will be doing in the future.

It's like a "Periodic Table of Elements" for work. Grasping these basic building blocks is an important part of the process of shaping a biblical paradigm for work in the minds of the next generation. This is part of the Worldview Matters WRAP process for redeeming and restoring the word work. (Not to mention bringing purpose and meaning to education─for students and teachers alike.)

I invite you to explore 62 Truths About Work and Human Flourishing for yourself. Discover God's answer to theft, and His therapy for thieves here.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Continually Rethink

Recently I blogged about the work of Paul Graves, Workplace Ministry Pastor at Cedar Park Church, in Bothell, Washington. As follow up, I did a phone interview with Paul about his God-Work 360 program. Highlights from this call are below. 

Christian Overman: How can churches help members to live out their faith in the Monday-through-Friday workplace?

Paul Graves: The church must be ambitious and courageous in making internal adjustments and creating innovations that equip members to make the God-Work connection. By "internal adjustments and innovations," I mean creating opportunities within the church’s culture — its processes, structures, routines, governance – in short, its orientation to pastoral practices, liturgy, discipleship, etc. For followers of Christ to become mature disciples in the “outside world” of the Monday-through-Friday workplace, the “inside world” of the local church must have a fully integrated approach toward nurturing faith-at-work skills in intentional, repeatable and sustainable ways. 

Christian Overman: What is the most important internal adjustment a church can make?

Paul Graves:  Most churches have a variety of internal programs already in place that share common axioms, such as the centrality of the Word of God, the role of prayer, and worship. But the idea of “vocation,” or “workplace calling” is not yet one of the essential axioms of most churches. I’m suggesting that vocation/calling be one of those essential axioms, running like a common, unifying thread through all the church programs.  

Christian Overman:  How are you doing this at Cedar Park?

Paul Graves: Rather than throw a “bomb” into the middle of the room by creating some sort of “new thing” at the church, we are finding ways to build the axiom of vocation/calling into already existing structures. For example, our church has an emphasis toward small-group programs, so we have added small groups that specifically focus on the faith-work connection. Another structure already in place is the Sunday School. By providing classes that specifically focus on the faith-work connection, we are beginning to create an awareness of the vocation/calling axiom upon which we can build.

Christian Overman: Why is all of this important?  

Paul Graves: It is important because most members of churches spend the vast majority of their lives outside the walls of the local church. For most people, this is where our vocational calling is fulfilled. If the church is going to be truly supportive of the church ‘called out/scattered,’ it has to continually rethink how it does the church ‘gathered’ – not just on Sunday, but throughout the week. This was the model for the first century church, and we need to continuously find ways to reintroduce this emphasis.

For more about God-Work 360, click here.