State of the Faith-Work Movement in Australian Theological Education

State of the Faith-Work Movement in Australian Theological Education

COLLATED COLLEGE REPORT, REPRESENTING THE NOVEMBER 1, 2018 GATHERING

 

 

<REPORT QUICK-LINKS/BOOKMARKS>

The Journey Thus Far: An Introduction and Overview <pp1-3>

PARTICIPANTS/COLLEGES <pp4-6>

  1. EXPERIENCE (What is going on?) <pp7-12>

Q1. Describe what is happening in the FWI space in your college

  1. EXPLORATION (Why is this going on?) <pp13-17>

Q2. For better or worse, why is your college’s FWI integration in this state?

III. REFLECTION (What should be going on? And where is the common ground?) <pp18-22>

Q3. Seeking wisdom to guide our way forward, what should be happening in FWI for your college and the ACT?

  1. ACTION (How will we respond?) <Q4: pp23-26; Q5: pp27-30>

Q4. What next steps will we take in moving toward this ideal vision for FWI in our college and the ACT as a whole?

Q5. More specifically, we greatly value your insight in considering an Australian web-hub for ACT FWI, and in structuring the July 4–6 conference (see guiding questions below).

Thoughts on Faith & Work Conference + Call for Papers <pp31-33>

Web-Hub: Further Discussion <p34>

 

The Journey Thus Far:
An Introduction and Overview

 

Since early 2018, Dave Benson (Malyon College), Andrew Sloane (Ridley College) and Kara Martin (Mary Andrews College) have led an Australian College of Theology (ACT) Development Fund Application to sharpen our approach across the consortium to Faith–Work Integration (FWI). This report captures some of this process and informs readers of our progress by the end of 2018. This serves greater collaboration in 2019, highlighting best practice through a web-hub and a biennial “Transforming Work” conference, beginning July 4–6 at Morling College.

On November 1, 2018, representatives from 9 of the 16 ACT Colleges gathered together in order to consider the state of Faith and Work Integration (FWI) in their particular colleges, and across the ACT as a whole. Each of these participants submitted a written a report in response to key questions to discern what is presently going on in this pivotal space and why, what should be going on, and how we might strategically respond.

Laidlaw College: Stephen Garner Malyon College: David Benson
Mary Andrews College: Kara Martin (Louise Gosbell, whilst unable to attend, was involved) Melbourne School of Theology: Michael Bräutigam
Morling College: Andrew Sloane Queensland Theological College: Andrew Bain (zoom)
Reformed Theological College: Phillip Scheepers (submitted a report; unable to participate on the day) Ridley College: Andrew Laird and Tim Foster (zoom)
Vose Seminary: Jon Bergmann Youthworks College: Bill Salier

Reventure Ltd. Managing Director, Dr. Lindsay McMillan (founder of “A Future that Works”) joined us virtually, offering his insight and supporting us in prayer. Additionally, a further two colleges (Christ College in Sydney [Ian Smith and John McLean] and Sydney Missionary & Bible College [SMBC: Mark Adams, Kirk Patson, Malcolm Gill and Kit Barker]) expressed support and interest via email, but were not positioned to submit a report nor attend, though they are keen to be involved with the conference and movement more broadly. Four colleges did not respond (Brisbane School of Theology; Bible College SA; Presbyterian Theological College; Trinity Theological College), however their vision and mission statements suggest there is at least a recognition of—if not a growing emphasis upon—the importance of whole life discipleship and training believers to represent Christ in all spheres of society, including their non-church frontlines.

The Executive Summary—Points for Discussion preface college responses to each question in the main report. The following dot-points, however, highlight common ground from our discussion on the day, offering wisdom and a way forward that preserves the distinct identity/calling of each college whilst advancing the FWI movement as a whole:

  • Flexible subject modes for workers (on-line, evening, intensives, micro-courses, immersion activities)
  • Online engagement forums to ensure formation
  • Ensure workplace application in teaching, assessment and feedback, across all subjects and courses
  • Focus on language (ministry/work, vocation/calling, gospel—connecting to every part of life,
    Kingdom of God, whole-life discipleship, church gathered/scattered = ecclesiology challenged)
  • Focus on theological framing of work, with scholarly edge
  • Need worldview and ethics as core to each course
  • Whole-life needs to be in vision and mission of college
  • Needs partnership across colleges
  • Aware of Chapel and hidden curriculum
  • Beware elitism = corporate focus, professions vs. blue collar
  • Inclusive of cultural issues = attitude to work
  • Capstone units have potential for integration
  • Need coherent model for integration, and positive models

All Power-point slides from the day, including Malyon and Laidlaw College’s presentations of what form FWI takes, can be accessed online via bit.ly/FWIgathering.

Our four priorities from this point forward are:

  • Disseminate this Report to all ACT colleges
  • Resubmit our Development Fund Application to the ACT, securing funds for the following two FWI ventures
  • Call for papers (p33) and plan/promote the “Transforming Work” conference
  • Move toward some form of web-hub to share resources and model best practice educationally in FWI, and collaborate on research (working in conjunction with the Australian “Faith, Work & Economics Community of Practice” Facebook group). This may take the form of an Oceania page under the American Oikonomia site, a page on the ACT site perhaps in line with a future “Theological Education and the Disciplines” Centre of Excellence, or populating our recently secured http://transformingwork.net.au/

For those who are new to this initiative, the following directions for participants will set the scene for what follows.

+++

Dear Colleague,

We are excited to gather with you on November 1, 2018, in working toward the July 4–6, 2019 “Transforming Vocation” conference at Morling College. As explained in the invitation letter, this initial planning meeting serves to get a sense of the state of play in faith and work integration (FWI) across the ACT consortium, consider opportunities for collaboration, and plan for the conference itself. We believe that this structured networking opportunity is pivotal for the future of the Faith–Work movement in the Australian context.

We will gather in the ACT Boardroom, from 9:30am-4:00pm, Level 10, 257 Clarence St., Sydney. For those participating virtually, please join our Zoom conversation any time from 9:20am, via https://zoom.us/j/900468851, Meeting ID 900 468 851 (Telephone: +61 (0) 8 7150 1149; iPhone one-tap: +61280152088,,900468851#).

However you join, the expectation is that each institution will complete one structured report in preparation, three pages in length total (approximately 250 words for each of the overarching questions: experience; exploration; reflection; action). On the day, the nominated participant will summarise their report in 5 minutes, giving us a window into what faith–work integration looks like in your college context, before dialoguing with other participants for a further 10 minutes on implications for the ACT consortium as a whole, as we seek further collaboration and best practice in this space. The remainder of the day will be spent considering a web-based collaboration as a hub for ACT faith–work educational efforts, and structuring the “Transforming Vocation” conference.

Following is the collation of various reports received by Monday 29th October. This gives you time to pre-read before our gathering what is happening in FWI across each of the participating colleges. I trust the executive dot-points preceding your contribution to each question might clarify common ground and focus our discussion on the day. This process should ensure maximum time is spent in dialogue, rather than presentations. After the November 1 gathering, David Benson (david.benson@malyon.edu.au) will produce an overarching “State of the Faith–Work Movement in Australian Theological Education” Paper, laying a base for ongoing efforts.

In broad brush-strokes, the structured report questions below follow an action–reflection practical theological process, that being the Pastoral Cycle[1], as we seek to

  • empirically explain what is going on and why in the faith–work integration space,
  • hermeneutically understand what should be going on, and finally
  • strategically change current practice by considering how we might faithfully respond toward greater fruitfulness in this endeavour.


Experience (description of the concrete tension in a local context) 


Exploration
(analysis of the situation through insights from secular and religious critical perspectives) 

Reflection (seeking to correlate these insights toward guides for action) 

Action (new practices directed by reflective-practitioners that, once implemented, start another progressive spiral)

I have provided some questions to guide your reflections on these four elements. Please feel free to focus on those matters more relevant in your context, though do ensure that you address each of the elements (experience, exploration, reflection, action), after the initial mandatory question on your name and role.

Responses from participating colleges have been collated and typed into the gaps below each flourish.

Again, thank you for your prayerful preparation, and strategic contribution to this timely gathering.

Yours,

Dave Benson                                         Andrew Sloane                         Kara Martin

 

 

Please give your name, institution, role, and a brief (80-100 word) bio outlining your personal involvement and interest in this area of Faith and Work Integration (FWI) in theological education.

Executive Summary—Points for Discussion:

  • Many of us are either bi-vocational or come from another professional background (economics, education, media, medicine, etc.), such that integration is a driving theme in our academic work and personal practice of following Christ. Leveraging this knowledge and these networks may be key to a well-rounded movement.
  • What, then, is “integration”? Does this word sufficiently capture our aims in “Faith–Work Integration”? How might positioning Faith and Work as requiring integration, thus being separate domains, be problematic? Might other language better serve our purposes at this moment in time?
  • It falls short of a tension, but even in our profiles, different emphases are evident, such as worldview (thinking/framing well the place of ‘work’ relative to mission), ethics (appropriate action in a changing world, utilising some form of practical theological reflection for more truthful action), and practices (whole life discipleship and formation through and for work for holistic witness). How do we hold these emphases and priorities together in a coherent frame (for instance, David Miller’s “Everywhere Integrator”), so that this burgeoning movement in Australia is set on the right footing, avoiding unhelpful binarisms and piecemeal initiatives?
  • Many of us are involved both in lecturing, and academic centres or parachurch leadership. Our time and roles are split. Strategic partnership and Memorandums of Understanding between our various employers, and the domains of church, academy and society are key to not burn out and ensure sufficient funding and time for our efforts. Additionally, a number stated the desire to see church reform, away from a pastor-/ecclesio-centric model. This also requires careful navigation and clear communication to partner, rather than working at cross-purposes, a larger vision filtering through our various networks and communities.

 

Colleges, with their associated participants, have been organised alphabetically.

LAIDLAW COLLEGE (AUCKLAND, NZ):

Stephen Garner (sgarner@laidlaw.ac.nz), Academic Dean and Senior Lecturer in Theology (June 2018–Current); Head of School—Theology (January 2014–June 2018)

 

I teach primarily in the area of practical and contextual theology, and my research focuses upon theology in dialogue with science, technology and new media, as well religion, media and popular culture. My current research projects include: theological ethics and social media; technology and sustainability; angels in popular culture; theological education and digital technology; and video games and spiritual formation. My most recent book (co-authored with Heidi Campbell) is Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture (2016). My denominational affiliation is the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ). I have also served on the New Zealand Interchurch Bioethics Council and the PCANZ’s Leadership Sub-Committee.

 

MALYON COLLEGE (BRISBANE, QLD):

Dave Benson (david.benson@malyon.edu.au), Overseer of Malyon Centres and Lecturer in Practical Theology  

 

I am based at Malyon Theological College, Brisbane, functioning as a practical theologian. I focus on Christianity and Culture, leading Traverse (the Malyon Centre for bridging the gap between church and culture), overseeing the Malyon Workplace Centre, and designing/teaching subjects including “Integrating Faith and Work” (MCE41/61/D). (Additionally, I teach Theology for Everyday Life, Worldview, Apologetics, and Evangelism.) My major field of study is in public Christianity, particularly the place of religion and Sacred Texts in Secular Education and a secularising society, post-Christendom. As one of the first ReVenture participants in the Karam Forum (Chicago), I have been privileged to connect with the American Oikonomia Network, subsequently participating in Australian forums in this space, and helping drive an ACT grant toward establishing a parallel network and conference in the Australian context. Through Malyon Workplace we have partnered with the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity (LICC) in bringing Neil Hudson out to run a MA subject in “Whole Life Discipleship”, promote Fruitfulness on the Frontlines and their Transforming Work app, and I speak in a range of fellowships and forums on how churches might equip their members for vocational stewardship.

MARY ANDREWS COLLEGE [MAC] (SYDNEY):

Kara Martin (kara.adina@gmail.com), Project Leader with Seed, Lecturer at MAC, Workplace Chaplain

 

Kara Martin is Project Leader with Seed and formerly Associate Dean of the Marketplace Institute at Ridley College in Melbourne. She has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles in a variety of organisations and as a consultant. She was Director of the School of Christian Studies for three years and has lectured with the Brisbane School of Theology, Macquarie Christian Studies Institute and Wesley Institute. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, as well as helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is married to David, and they have two amazing adult children: Jaslyn and Guy. Kara has written a two-volume exploration of Workship: How to use your work to worship God, with the second volume recently released.

MELBOURNE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY [MST] (MELBOURNE):

Michael Bräutigam (mbrautigam@MST.edu.au), Lecturer in theology, psychology and church history;
deputy of postgrad studies

 

I am very grateful for the invitation to participate in the Faith & Work Integration workshop. Learning more about integration is one of my goals in terms of professional development at this stage.

Given our recent merger with Eastern College (ECA), I am thinking more carefully about integration lately. My long-term vision is to establish an Integrative Centre of Theology and Psychology at MST/ECA that helps practitioners to implement faith and work in their own contexts.

I am currently preparing our 3rd Paradosis Theology conference—which is also supposed to showcase integration and I am happy to share any insights gathered from the past conferences while also looking forward to learning more about how to ensure that the integrative element is moving more into centre-stage.

More with a view to our daily work at MST/ECA, I hope to learn more about applying significant insights of integration in the daily running of our college. I am confident that there is quite a significant room for improvement.

 

MORLING COLLEGE (SYDNEY):

Andrew Sloane (AndrewS@morling.edu.au), Senior Lecturer in Old Testament and Christian Thought,
Director of Postgraduate Studies

 

The integration of theology and other disciplines and intersections between biblical studies and work and everyday life have been central to my career in teaching and research. My publications range from interdisciplinary work in OT hermeneutics, through OT ethics and bioethics, to philosophy and theology of medicine. My latest book Vulnerability and Care (T&T Clark, 2016) presents philosophical and theological perspectives on the nature and goals of medicine, and I continue research in this area. I wrote and taught an MA unit on theology of work and have been instrumental in seeking to make integrative studies in general, and integration of faith and work in particular, a key focus of the College’s life and curriculum.

 

QUEENSLAND THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE [QTC] (BRISBANE):

Andrew Bain (ABain@qtc.edu.au), Vice-Principal and Academic Dean

 

I teach Theological Ethics each year at QTC, including a segment on work as one of the main topics chosen at QTC for the second half of this unit.  I also teach Introduction to Christian Ethics online every second year, which includes a shorter segment on work.  I’m also interested in this area because I worked as an economist in a former life, with labour economics being a significant part of two of my roles.

 

 

 

REFORMED THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE [RTC] (VICTORIA):

Phillip Scheepers (pscheepers@rtc.edu.au), Missions Lecturer

 

My name is Phillip Scheepers and I am the Missions Lecturer at the Reformed Theological College in Melbourne. There are two primary reasons for my interest in this area. Our college values the legacy of Abraham Kuyper and his emphasis on applying a Christian worldview to all aspects of human existence (including work of course). There is, therefore, a significant interest at the RTC in asking questions about ways to think ‘Christianly’ about the world of work. As a missions lecturer I am also keen to explore a fully rounded understanding of our calling to worship God through our work. (We have to do better than a reductionistic: ‘Use your workplace to evangelise’ approach.)

 

RIDLEY COLLEGE (MELBOURNE):

Andrew Laird (andrew.laird@citybibleforum.org), Ridley Marketplace Institute (RMI), Dean

I joined the RMI one-day per week in 2016 with the role of overseeing the Institute. My key responsibilities include teaching specific MI subjects (e.g. PE 314/514 Biblical theology of work, PC453/653 Mentoring and pastoral care of workers) and providing FWI for other core units. I have also been involved in the development of PE314/514 as an online unit to be offered in 2019, and also a condensed version to be offered in local church settings. In addition to this teaching, I interact informally with many full-time students, encouraging them to see the value of FWI in their future ministry. The RMI also hosts public events for the wider Christian community to be exposed to FWI (e.g. an annual Faith & Work Award, biennial RMI lecture). For the remainder of my week (the bulk of my time) I am employed by City Bible Forum directing a program called Life@Work which educates city workers in FWI.

Tim Foster (t.foster@ridley.edu.au), Vice Principal of Ridley College.

 

Tim Foster has been Vice Principal of Ridley College since 2009. Previously he was an Anglican minister in Sydney’s inner-West. In Ministry Foundations I attempt to provide a holistic foundation to theology for first year students that understand work as a critical element of God’s mission. This passion arises from theological convictions about the nature of mission, concern about the pastor/church centric perspective of ministers and the frustration expressed by workers.

­­­VOSE (PERTH):

Jon Bergmann (jon.bergmann@vose.edu.au), Director of Vose Training (Vocational Education and Training)

 

My interest in the Faith and Work movement is quite fresh, and has arisen from a desire to see some of the principles taught in theological classroom spread into the curriculum as a whole.

 

­­­YOUTH WORKS (SYDNEY):

Bill Salier (Bill.Salier@youthworks.net), Principal

 

I am currently the Principal of the College. My interest in Faith–Work integration is directly related to my involvement with students who will be involved in various forms of vocational ministry in the Youth and Children’s sphere. Most of our students will end up working for churches or schools in some form of Christian leadership and teaching role so I guess their faith and work are directly related. That said, a number of our students will also go on to other study and workplaces. Our goal for all our students, irrespective of their destination is for faith-full service—theologically informed practice so that their work is seen as very much related to their faith and theology. Our interest is in our how to communicate and encourage this point of view as well as equip with skills, especially critical reflection, to facilitate this.

 

 

 

  1. Experience (What is going on?)
    Description of the concrete tension in a local context

 

  1. Describe what is happening in the FWI space in your college

Guiding Questions:

  • What forms does FWI take in your institutional context, and how wide is its reach?
  • What initiatives have been most impactful/effective? What have been least impactful/effective?
  • How embedded is this goal of whole life discipleship and faith and work integration, among the student body and faculty? And how important is this endeavour, amidst the many purposes of theological education?

Executive Summary—Points for Discussion:

  • FWI is highly variable across ACT, from a key organising theme, to an unrealised aspiration. For each survey participant, unsurprisingly, it is a high priority. However, the will of various colleges and leadership teams to pursue this priority is questionable. Many noted that FWI holds an important place conceptually but is not deeply embedded in college life or offerings. How have you secured funding and raised FWI profile, to better align aspiration and reality? This is especially key given the growing percentage of students heading back to the workplace and not pursuing a pastoral track. How can we better serve and equip these students?
  • FWI occurs at the level of (i) institutional priority, including Centres, Chapel, Consultancy and Conferences, alongside various extension activities including research programmes to impact the Church and workplaces (e.g. work placements and internships); (ii) curriculum organisation across schools and offering of key subjects, requiring a “robust theological framework for integrating theology and faith with best practice in those vocational contexts”; (iii) specific classroom practices/pedagogy/discipleship and assessment, to give FWI content and themes sufficient emphasis. Which level is key, or needs most work, in your context? What initiatives of your colleagues in this survey hold especial promise in your context?
  • In terms of subjects offered, there are some that address FWI specifically as a core theme, others that touch on this in isolated lectures, and yet other subjects that delve deeper into various themes (e.g. mission, chaplaincy, counselling, disability and suffering) that support Whole Life Discipleship (WLD). Are there ways to increase the profile and uptake of these subjects, as they are typically electives amidst packed programmes of study and a largely siloed curriculum structure that works against integration? WLD language and framing seems pivotal in confronting the sacred–secular dichotomy which prioritises church work over other forms of vocational work. What language might we adopt across our institutions to alter mindsets?
  • At least on a first read, Laidlaw College appears to be the only college with a complete “Vocational Theology” track. We might all ask, however, what subjects are most relevant in our context? How might we get an accurate sense/inventory of the degree to which these themes are already integrated? How might we embed these core themes and an integrative model within more subjects? What interest is there among our students, or opportunities for alternative schools/tracks to support FWI? Can we partner together in forming and offering a wider range of subjects across the ACT cohort—moving beyond generic FWI to specific theological reflection on professions such as Law, Education, Media and the like—given that many colleges are consolidating and reducing rather than adding to their subject offerings in a time of flux in the sector? Forming a solid network of leading thinkers and practitioners is crucial at this juncture.
  • How can we establish a solid HDR base for post-graduate students to continue pressing the limits of integration in theological education, with focused projects? Is there potential for partnership on this front?

LAIDLAW COLLEGE:

FWI Integration is taking place in various ways in the Laidlaw College ecosystem, driven by the College’s mission and vision, and is a strength of the College.

[1] See Elaine Graham, Heather Walton, and Frances Ward, “Theology-in-Action: Praxis,” in Theological Reflection: Methods (London: SCM, 2005), 188-191; Paul Ballard and John Pritchard, Practical Theology in Action: Christian Thinking in the Service of Church and Society (London: SPCK, 1996), 18, 67, 74-78, 118-119.

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