Bob Robinson is one of my good friends, a supervisor for the CCO campus ministry in Ohio. Bob has a number of passions, and was one of the first bloggers I knew. He’s written widely about the emergent conversation (discerningly supportive), the missional church (oh yeah), non-partisan social justice work (passionately committed) and the wholistic, reformational worldview of neo-Calvnist Kuyperianism (integrate! integrate! “Every square inch!”) Bob is a talkative guy who reads tons, and is always thinking about new ways to, as we say, “get the Word out.” He’s a first-class dreamer and visionary and leader (with a great wife and kids, to boot.)
InteGratE is a low-key and helpful event he’s put together at his church (The Chapel in Akron Ohio) on March 7th which attempts to take the vision and whole-life discipleship perspective of the CCOs Jubilee conference, into the ordinary, local congregation. Can we name and explain a Christian view of the work-world, holding up God’s care for and interest in marketplace and shop floor, medical center and office cubicle? Can we help church folk learn to serve creatively and faithfully (as some obviously already are) in areas as diverse as the building trades and town council, from public school classroooms to the civil courtroom, from careers in journalism to jobs in corporate sales, from blue to white to pink to no collar callings? Indeed, as we challenged students last week at Jubilee to relate their faith and their academic majors, thinking in Biblically-informed ways now as they prepare for callings and vocations in their future careers, Bob wants to help equip adult Christian lay people to live out their spirituality in the 9 to 5. Jesus is Lord of all of life, after all, eh?
You know that we promote the wonderful books such as Your Work Matters To God by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks (NavPress; $15) to help our customers and friends think about this. It is still one of the very best, although we have a whole shelf full here at the shop. Catholics, Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, charismatics, Presbys old and new— everybody is writing on this these days (thanks be to God!) There are plenty of new titles, too (how about: Mastering Monday: A Guide to Integrating Faith and Work by John Beckett (IVP; $18) or the great new Christianity Today Study Series one simply called Faith & Work (Nelson; $9.99) which is useful for personal study, an excellent for small groups. Most of us spend a lot of time at the daily grind and it confounds me why we don’t sell more books along these lines…
The InteGratE event will sell these kinds of books, and more. We’ve consigned them titles on art, business, science, engineering, sports, home-making, politics, law, medicine, etc.
Here is wonderful brief short article (complete with discussion questions) that Bob did to prepare folks to attend this great event on a Christian perspective on work. You can read the excellent additional portions here, here, or here. We are so impressed with this upcoming event that we invite you to consider going if you live anywhere near Eastern Ohio.
Or, consider InteGratE a model for your own local event. Beth and I organized just such a conference at our own church 15 years ago which we called FaithWorks. We had Os
Guinness give lectures which later because the must-read book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nelson; $17.99.) You should know that it is one of my all-time favorite books, one I come back to often. If you haven’t read it, do consider ordering it.
Happily, Bob will be featuring the Guinness book at his event, too. It really is a classic in this field, and I pray that folks at The Chapel event pick it up. Although it is a classic, and lays the essential foundation for any serious thought about relating faith and work or vocation and career, a brand new book by the truly luminous writer Robert Benson just came out in a slim hardback, nicely titled The Echo Within (Waterbrook; $14.99) Not quite as mystical as Parker Palmer’s moving Let Your Life Speaking: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (Jossey-Bass; $18.95), the new Robert Benson has as its subtitle “Finding Your True Calling” so it is moving in similar terrain. He is a man who is both practical and contemplative, deeply serious yet quite humorous, and it seems he here strikes just the right balance, with his honest reflections on his own struggle to discern what God has for him, how to say “yes” to the process of sensing God’s pleasure in one’s work, and how to discovery your own vocation.
He writes, “Your vocation is not only about the work that you do with your hands and your heart and your mind; it is about what shapes that work, about the person that you become in and around that work as well. Vocation is about the things that shape the work before the worker even begins to work.”
The keynote speaker at the Ohio InteGratE conference is Michael Wittmer, whose book Heaven Is A Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God (Zondervan; $16.99) explores a Christian worldview as clearly and pleasantly as anything we know. Reflecting on the unfolding Biblical narrative–creation-fall-redemption-restoration—Wittmer’s book is packed full of ideas, discussion questions, application points and provocative theology that is at once assesable, interesting and a bit provocative. Do you really think much of the glorious future of heaven coming to Earth (Revelation 21 and 22) and that it includes a bodily existence, where we worship as we work? Do you think “everything you do matters to God?” This is highly recommended for anyone seeking an integrated lifestyle where convictions and character are one, where praise and politics are seamlessly related, where work and worship are part of the same whole-life lifestyle of making much of God by serving His Kingdom in all that we do. The audacity of hopefulness? Try imagining heaven on Earth! Heaven is a Place on Earth will help.
HERE IS A BIG HEADS-UP and RECOMMENDATION
which has no direct benefit for Hearts &a
mp; Minds, but is so important for our readers, I’m eager to hook you up. I’ve mentioned last week’s tremendous Jubilee conference, with the plenary speakers, musicians and workshops galore (even one that I did, on the significance of reading, raving on some Biblical/spiritual reasons for reading widely and being a life-long learner.) You can order CDs or MP3s of most of these talks, even DVDs of a few, by visiting IND Duplications who were cool enough to drive from Atlanta to Pittsburgh because they believed in the significance of this Jubilee worldview stuff.
IND has free shipping, too. Check ’em out, to see what they have (at reasonable prices)— the famous speakers (Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, Bill Strickland, Tom Sine, Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Paul Marshall) and the lesser knowns but often brillant (ahem, ahem) on topics such as a Christian worldview in contemporary culture, engineering & technology, theater, law, social justice & urban ministry, modern art, film-making, race, creation-care, politics, sexuality, immigration issues, missional church planting, sports, apologetics, urban education, faithful ministry with the GLTB community, what Muslims believe, journalism, psychology, reading, business, the high school-to-college transition, the work of Wendell Berry, the role of theology, fighting sexual trafficking, new urbanism, social justice & worship music, and much more.
Going to InteGratE in Ohio would be fabulous (you’d get, at least, to meet Bob Robinson and hear Michael Wittmer.) But buying a couple recordings of these major addresses and breakout session discs could be a whole new learning experience for you. If the speakers mention any books (as some surely do) you know who to call. Thanks.
any book mentioned
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