Over the past year, I’ve experienced the challenge and fun of getting to know my new home, New York City. The iPhone I carry in my pocket has been a comforting reference in the process: not only does it contain maps and subway system diagrams. The pulsating blue dot shows me exactly where I am.
As we continue to ponder the dynamics of marketplace faith—following Jesus into the world of work—I propose a map upon which each reader can find his or her location on the journey.
This map relies heavily on the categories that Dr. David Miller introduced in God at Work. To Dr. Miller’s four E’s, I have added 5 elements to shape a 9 part map. In this post I will summarize each and close with some reflections on how they relate to one another and the broader faith and work conversation.
The 9 Part Map of Faith – Work Integration
- The Experience of Work—The faith perspective on the day-to-day enterprise in which we are engaged is called the experience element to faith-work integration. Three biblical trajectories inform the experience of work, the creative arc, the redemptive arc, and the love of neighbor.
The Creative arc is any task where we join God in taking raw material and multiplying that resource into products or experiences of value for human flourishing (the building trades, design work, manufacturing, art, technology are examples).
The Redemptive arc is the work that joins God in mitigating the effects of the fall (the healing professions, service work, and all industries associated with the mitigation of risk are redemptive).
Love of neighbor connects with the idea that all work must benefit other people in some genuine way.
- Enrichment refers to activities that infuse workers with a sense of divine purpose and spiritual support as they engage in their work. Marketplace Ministries empower workers with teaching, encouragement, and opportunities for Christian community in or around the job, they offer enrichment.
- Expression refers to individuals in the workplace “coming out” as Christian in some way It runs on a continuum from casually sharing participation in religious activities to an intentional effort to share one’s faith.
- Ethics is an emphasis at three levels. 1) maintaining the basic legal and ethical code of a given field or industry 2) maintaining exemplary levels of integrity and ethics, and 3) actively pursuing justice—the protection of the marginalized and the reformation of industry praxis.
Excellent work as defined above, produces positive results, fruits of one’s labor which include the following:
- Talent—recognized real-world expertise.
- Treasure—wealth and the capacity to invest in other ventures .
- Time—while there may appear to be an inverse relationship between success and discretionary time, this is not necessarily the case. Effective workers 1) learn how to prioritize their time and 2) have more resources at their disposal to maximize their time.
- Influence—effective work builds social capitol both inside and outside the work place.
There is one final element—it’s the red circle in the center.
- In the center is the Gospel—Jesus’ life in the kingdom, his teaching, his death, and his resurrection—all offered for us. Without the work of Christ driving our approach to work, we settle for a “try harder” approach to following Christ on the job. Thankfully Jesus’ message is to trust harder—to embrace his robust vision for work AND to count on his power to change us into the kind of people who can live that vision.
2 Reflections and a Question:
- Miller notes that many Marketplace ministries focus on only one of these four E’s. I agree, do you?
- Churches and non-profit leaders have historically put more emphasis on the fruits of work—particularly treasure, with a dash of “stay out of trouble” ethics and have missed the holistic and robust vision God has for our work.
Using the map as a locator, how would you describe your approach to the integration of faith and work?
 Dr. David W. Miller, God At Work: The History and Promise of the Faith At Work Movement, Oxford University Press, 2007. See pages 129-142 on the integration box.
Diagram: Diagram is the sole property of Dr. Chip Roper, the 4 E’s are based on Dr. David Miller’s God At Work.
Photo: Used by permission: by Joe Loong,https://www.flickr.com/photos/joelogon/4613630072 Liscence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode