When you hear words like “vocation”, “ministry” or “calling”, do you think only of preachers, missionaries, worship singers, youth workers—and maybe Christian aid and welfare workers?
In many minds, church-related roles are considered “callings“, while jobs in the “world” or the “marketplace” can be downplayed on the holiness scale – and labelled as “secular”.
It’s a set of stereotypes often conveyed by well-meaning ministers eager to see their people serving in the local church. The problem is, it leaves many Christians feeling that they’re less devoted, or “not called” – and that the only heavenly purpose for their job or career is to make money for the church building or missions program.
Morling College in Sydney is keen to change all that.
This July, they’re hosting Australia’s first-ever research conference delving into Christians in the workplace, and how faith impacts on everyday work. A driving belief behind the conference, is that any workplace can be a place of God’s work, as long there are Christians in it, shining their light in whatever they do.
The “Transforming Vocation” conference, from July 4 to 6, will feature speaker Mark Greene, author of books like Thank God It’s Monday, Supporting Christians at Work, Pocket Prayers for Work, and Fruitfulness on the Frontline. He’ll talk about global initiatives being carried out in Bible colleges and churches, in the area of “vocational discipleship” – preparing people to be everyday ministers of the gospel in their workplace.
Mark is a sought-after speaker who has led the way in getting Christians to reflect on their work for more than 20 years.
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Lindsay McMillan, from the faith-at-work organization, Reventure will speak about his research on the rapid changes impacting the workplace; and Karina Kreminski, author of Urban Spirituality, will lead an “exegetical walk” in the local area, to help show how the built environment impacts our understanding and experience of work.
Many Industries, Many Denominations
More than 30 research papers will be presented at the conference, covering topics like rest, leisure, ethics, leadership, the future of work, the role of the Holy Spirit in our work, and what churches are doing to address this important area of faith.
Conference organiser Dr Andrew Sloane said a wide range of industries will be represented among the speakers, as well as a wide range of denominations and colleges – including the University of Divinity, the Australian College of Theology, and major national colleges including Alphacrucis.
“We need to ensure we are preparing students for their everyday work and other frontlines.”
“We are thrilled that we have at least one teacher, nurse, pastor, youth worker, economist, lecturer, parachurch worker, communication specialist, statistician, climate scientist and IT worker presenting on issues relevant to their vocations,” said Dr Sloane. “For some, this will be the first time they have reflected so deeply on their own work.”
Dr Sloane said it’s particularly crucial for theology colleges to recognise the many different ways people can serve God, because 50 percent of all students studying theology in Australia aren’t going to go into a paid church or “parachurch” role.
“We need to ensure we are preparing students for their everyday work and other frontlines,” he said.
The conference is on from July 4 to 6 at Morling College in Macquarie Park. Register or find out more at the event website.