Our labor should mirror God's creation and care for the world, but often it is mere drudgery because we idolize work or distort its meaning.
"Work can be a powerful source of livelihood, purpose, individual agency, social place, and connection to the divine," Darby Ray notes, but its “ability to confer these positive meanings is threatened by the dynamics of consumer culture." Joel Schwartz focuses on the threat to work's role in preserving our dignity and furthering our fulfillment. Christine Fletcher investigates why we undervalue caring for the weak, young, and old, and consider this "love's labor" for women. Jonathan Sands Wise warns that we dangerously overvalue efficiency at the expense of other values in our work.
Matt Beal considers how to respond to underemployment, which takes a high spiritual toll as work becomes entwined with personal identity. Robert Dickie critiques both the "poverty gospel" and the "prosperity gospel" for focusing on "what we earn and what we own rather than for whom we work and why we work." Mitch Neubert and Kevin Dougherty study faith-work integration, and Bob Newell explores options to empty retirement.
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to explore work's goodness in the Christian moral life and diagnose its contemporary diseases. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.
- "Consumer Culture and the Deformation of Work," by Darby Kathleen Ray
- "Working for Dignity" by Joel Schwartz
- "On the Value of Caring Work," by Christine M. Fletcher
- "Of Magic and Machines: When Saving Labor Isn't Worth It," by Jonathan Sands Wise
- "When Work Disappoints," by Matthew S. Beal
- "Integrating Faith and Work," by Mitchell J. Neubert and Kevin D. Dougherty
- "Working in Fields of Sunshine," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Vincent van Gogh's The Red Vineyard
- "Dismissed," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Philip Evergood's The Pink Dismissal Slip
- "Labor's Reward," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Jacopo Bassano's The Parable of the Sower and Domenico Fetti's The Parable of the Vineyard
Hymn and Worship Service
- "The Theology of Work in the New Economy," by Robert Dickie
- "On Not 'Dying on Third,'" by Robert M. Newell
- "To Labor Not in Vain," by Gregory A. Clark
- David H. Jensen, Responsive Labor: A Theology of Work
- Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work
- Esther D. Reed, Good Work: Christian Ethics in the Workplace
- Ben Witherington III, Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor
- "Work, Wealth, and Business as the Ground of Christian Discipline," by Roger Ward
- R. Paul Stevens, Doing God's Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Marketplace
- Amy L. Sherman, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good
- John C. Knapp, How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done About It)
- Jeff Van Duzer, Why Business Matters to God (And What Still Needs to Be Fixed)
Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of six Study Guides)
- "Consumer Culture and the Deformation of Work"
- "Working for Dignity"
- "When Work Disappoints"
- "The Value of Caring Work"
- "Of Magic and Machines: When Saving Labor Isn't Worth It"
- "Integrating Faith and Work"