How far are those who preach, teach and lead in church equipped to reflect on faith and work, and to enable others to do so? This research report by former Trust intern Hannah Matthews assesses the state of play.
St Peter’s Saltley Trust has a long-running commitment to work which enables Christian discipleship in daily life in workplaces and elsewhere – such as in the involvement of former Trust director Maggie Keane on the working group which produced the Church of England’s report Called to New Life (1999).
In 2008 the Trust held a further consultation on ‘Connecting Faith and Work’, involving people from a number of different professions (including some involved in lay training and discipleship development within the institutional churches regionally). The aim was to consider current successes and challenges in enabling Christians to relate faith and work, to consider what it might look like to ‘do faith and work well’ and to identify some concrete steps towards achieving that more integrated approach.
One key conclusion was that whilst effective discipleship in daily life and work depends partly on what happens in the workplace, it can also be affected by the degree to which ‘church cultures’ help or hinder Christians to make connections between faith and daily life and work; whether work is treated as integral to discipleship or an add-on extra.
Getting congregational culture right was in itself heavily (though not exclusively) dependent upon the priorities and vision of those with pastoral/teaching responsibility: clergy, readers and local preachers. These key individuals have the potential to exercise considerable influence over how far questions of faith, daily life and work were given space in worship, preaching, pastoral care and church-based learning activities. If so, it begs important questions about the formation and training they themselves receive in relating to faith to work, and in helping others to do so. How best might theological training for licensed ministry be supported and developed in order to ensure that questions of faith, work and whole-life discipleship received the attention they deserved?
Between 2010 and 2011, Hannah Matthews, Research Intern at St Peter’s Saltley Trust, undertook research on the place of faith and work in theological education and training, interviewing 37 key church officers in the West Midlands region and beyond, ranging from theological college and course staff to lay trainers, continuing ministerial education officers and directors and enablers of mission. Hannah’s report, Faith and Work in Theological Education and Training: An Enquiry, builds up an in-depth insight into the place and understanding of faith in daily life and work issues within the current landscape of theological education and training, particularly in the Church of England but also with insights from ecumenical partners. You can order this report through the Trust’s website here.
In 2014 insights from the research were shared at a conference on Educating for Mission in the World of Work, organised jointly by St Peter’s Saltley Trust and Deacon Dr David Clark from the Kingdom at Work project – whose book of the same name was launched at the conference. The conference explored how theological educators might seek to equip others to understand work and workplaces within a Kingdom perspective, and offered some cases studies of where this is being done.
Following on from this conference, we would be interested to hear from anyone involved in initial and continuing ministerial development and training for other forms of authorised ministry, interested to explore how an understanding of the workplace context of discipleship might be nurtured and embedded within Christian formation.
You can also download bulletins of the Kingdom at Work project below:Download No. 16 (Feb. 2020) – Update on Kingdom at Work Survey Tool – and invitation to pilot it
Download No. 15 (Jan. 2019) – Educating for Mission Consultation
Download No.14 (Aug. 2018) – Educating for Mission in the World of Work – Where Next?
Download No.13 (Mar. 2018) – Sustainability at Work
Download No.12 (Nov. 2017) – Quakers and Business
Download No.11 (Jul. 2017) – Ministers in Secular Employment
Download No.10 (Feb. 2017) – The Christian Entrepreneur
Download No.9 (Nov. 2016) – Servant Leadership
Download No.8 (Jul. 2016) – Spirituality in the Workplace
Download No.7 (Feb. 2016) – Christian faith and the economy
Download No.6 (Oct. 2015) – Chaplains and Chaplaincy
Download No.5 (Jul. 2015) – The Common Good
Download No.4 (Apr. 2015) – The Kingdom at Work project – ten key questions
Download No.3 (Dec. 2014) – ‘Educating for Mission in the World of Work’ conference report
Download No.2 (Oct. 2014) – Faith and work agencies in the UK and beyond
Download No.1 (Feb. 2014) – The Kingdom at Work Project and related initiatives