5 Bad Starting Points for the Faith and Work Conversation

Jeff Haanen | September 3, 2016

One of my continual shortcomings as executive director of the Denver Institute for Faith and Work is that I rarely frame our mission so that we’re clearly understood—especially by pastors.

More than once, my initial enthusiasm for all things “faith and work” is seen by good, godly pastoral leaders as a niche ministry that will soon, like chaff, be blown away by the winds of evangelical enthusiasm.

When I first meet with a pastor over coffee and start a conversation about Christianity and work, I can usually sense two questions behind an ever-gentle, shepherding smile. First, what is this guy saying? Second, of all the ministries that need my attention, why should I focus here?

After years of conversational dead ends, fits and starts, and fumbling introductions, I’ve discovered that we need to refocus conversations about Christianity and work on a new starting point, one that immediately resonates with the core mission of Jesus’s church and the pastors who are her shepherds, overseers, and leaders.

So, when meeting with pastors, here are five places I don’t start:

1. The sacred/secular divide. 

Yes, fact and value, public life and private life, and science and religion have been separated into different spheres ever since the Enlightenment. Folks…

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