Last year, through a mutual contact, I had the good privilege of meeting Jeff Haanen. Jeff is a high energy fella with great passion for God, great passion for Denver, and great passion for how God intends to work through his people to bring about healing and cultural renewal to the places in which they live, move, and have their being.
As we got to know each other better, Jeff began to outline for me his dream of starting an organization that would help Christians in this city do just that. The organization would be called “The Denver Institute for Faith and Work“, and would exist to come alongside the Church in Denver, stoking imagination and creating institutional support for helping the Body of Christ understand just how the claim of Christ upon their lives applied to the place where most people spend most of their waking, productive hours: the workplace.
Having grown up in the church, I well remember the days when receiving a “call” to “enter the Lord’s service” meant discovering a desire to preach, teach, or be a missionary. Thankfully, those days are over. All over Christendom, the Protestant (indeed biblical) notion of the priesthood of all believers is taking root and growing as followers of Jesus in every walk of life – from business to law to art to music to healthcare to social work to you-name-it – are learning to see their work as somehow part of the work of God in the world. Or at the very least, they are beginning to believe that at least in principle, the work of a pastor is no less important, no less holy, than the work of, say, an elementary school teacher.
Still, much work on this frontier remains. In the same way that simply believing that my work as a pastor has sacred value is not enough for me to do the work well – that is, in a way that is thoughtful, wise, purposive, sustainable, respectful, transformative, and the like – so it is that simply believing one’s work as an artist or entrepreneur is part of God’s desire to redeem all things is not enough to do the work well – that is, in a way that reflects God’s dream for his world and contributes to it. More is required than mere belief. We need thoughtful theological reflection on our areas of work. We need mentors and teachers in our areas of work that can show us the way in which our belief in the one God who through Christ is reassembling his broken and wayward creation comes to bear on our work. We need communities of people in our areas of work committed to supporting one another in our quest to see the glory of God shine through our labors. We need more than mere belief.
That’s where DIFW comes in. Their mission is “to cultivate personal and cultural renewal by applying the gospel to work” through:
- Public Forums addressing the integration of faith and different spheres of vocation like medicine, law, technology, business and the like
- Vocation Groups connecting Christians across the city with others in their field of work in order to discern challenges and opportunities for bringing the gospel to bear on their field and providing communal support for so doing
- Offering Classes for churches who are interested in exploring this topic more and equipping their folks with the beginnings of the knowledge they’ll need to faithfully integrate their faith and their work
- Hosting Church Events to do much the same
- And Providing Project Mentoring for those interested in taking creative, entrepreneurial steps in the direction of integrating faith and work, connecting them with mentors and logistical support to turn their dreams and plans into reality
So when Jeff asked me to serve on the Church Advisory Council for DIFW, I immediately and without a shred of hesitation said yes. The truth is, these are the kinds of things that we as a staff talk about and I as a pastor dream about implementing in my congregation often, but the realities of congregational life make getting traction on these sorts of dreams a monumental challenge. So where another institution can come alongside not just individual churches but THE church in Denver to provide support for seeing these ideas become reality, I say “I’m all in.”
So I’m personally stoked about the recent launch of DIFW and grateful to serve on the CAC for it. I’d encourage you to check their website (which I’ve linked to above), follow them on Twitter, “like” them on Facebook, donate to them – whatever. I’m excited to see what God does in our city through this effort.