Everyday Works is a four-part curriculum that seeks to help Christians rethink the meaning and purpose of their everyday work in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It is the culmination of a two-year project by Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Through their Talking Points series, the seminary brought leading teachers and authors together to explore how “secular” work really is a means of worship, discipleship and mission.
The Everyday Works Curriculum is designed with small groups in mind and features inspiring intro videos, full-length presentations, video clips for group discussion, a study guide and a pile of “extras” to take your learning deeper.
One significant distinctive that Everyday Works offers is the enormous amount of bonus material available to the learner. The study guide for the curriculum is available for free. The study guide includes all the “standard” curriculum content, but also includes resources to dive deeper for each lesson both in print and digital. The curriculum is built for small group use including introductions, discussion questions, definitions of complex terms, and prayers. The curriculum also includes information summarizing lectures along with common pushbacks to help small group leaders guide groups through the material. The curriculum is available entirely online, though it can also be purchased from the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary bookstore.
Click below to see a trailer describing the curriculum. I strongly encourage you to check out the curriculum for yourself as well as to share it with your pastor and small group leader.
Welcome to Everyday Works from Cornerstone University
Here are a few quotes from this resource to whet your appetite:
So think about your work or the work you hope to have someday. What if work is actually the best way to love and serve your neighbor. What if everyday work is more sacred than you realize. Doesn’t that change everything? –George Moss
Life can be difficult, and God understands this struggle. But His command is not to just sit and wait for the future kingdom. He wants you to be a part of realizing the kingdom now. We often struggle with the value of work, but we also struggle with pleasure. Can we really have and enjoy nice things, or are these in conflict with following Jesus? –Mike Wittmer
Work is most of life when you add up work in the home, work in the workplace, work in neighborhoods and schools and communities. When you add it all up, work is most of what we do during our waking hours. So if we don’t connect our faith to the world of work, then Christianity just becomes a leisure time activity, something we squeeze in for a few hours a week when we’re not working. —Greg Forster
Recently, I had an opportunity to catch up with Darrell Yoder, director of the Pirsig Fellowship and adjunct professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, who is also director of the Talking Points series that formed the basis for Everyday Works.
Chris Robertson: What was your original purpose or goal for Everyday Works?
Darrell Yoder: We wanted to provide a resource for churches to help them thoughtfully teach their congregations how to integrate faith, work, and economics. We also wanted to develop something that would be useful in more than one context.
We decided very early in the life of this project that we wanted to tackle faith and work issues differently so we could discuss the implications for issues of race, justice, and poverty. We intentionally sought out speakers from different contexts and backgrounds to help churches think through faith and work integration in a fuller way.
CR: What is distinctive about Everyday Works compared with the growing body of faith and work literature?
DY: I think a distinctive of our curriculum is the discussion about how the faith and work integration applies to issues of race, justice, and poverty. As we brought diverse voices together to weigh in on this topic, the result was a study that speaks positively about capitalism and at the same time recognizes the urgency of racial injustice. Many people see these perspectives as incompatible, but the Everyday Works speakers show how a theology of work anchored in the image of God speaks to both.
We can get the economic system right, but if whole swaths of people aren’t able to access that system, it’s still not right. Followers of Christ are called to do justice (Micah 6:8), which means providing for immediate needs and addressing the systemic causes of marginalization. As Pastor Artie Lindsay teaches in part four of the study, we need to embrace both conservative compassion and liberal justice. Only then can we address the complex issues of poverty in a way that recognizes and empowers the God-given dignity of every human being.
CR: What are the two things you most desire people to come away with after going through this study?
DY: First, there’s the vertical goal. God cares and is with you in your everyday, non-church work. He is present with you, and you can walk with and hear from him in your everyday tasks–even when your work seems mundane and “unspiritual.” You can relate to Him just an intimately as a pastor does.
Second, God has a purpose and a calling for you in your everyday work. He wants to open your eyes to endless ways you can love your neighbor and help people in need right where you are. Who am I serving in my everyday work? How could I speak for or include those who are on the margins? What are some the racial dynamics that prevent us from helping them? How can I use my work to right what is wrong? How can I disadvantage myself to advantage others (Proverbs 11:10)?
CR: Do you have any stories of impact from those who have gone through the curriculum that you would like to share?
DY: My friend Marcus Little is the pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Grand Rapids. It is a conservative Baptist church near the inner city that has become more of a commuter church due to changes in its neighborhood. The church was faced with a decision as a result of this change and decided to stay and engage its community. The timing of the Everyday Works curriculum was ideal. Marcus and other church leaders participated in the taping of the sessions.
The content helped to foster a conversation in their church to think through how they can minister to their community. Marcus and his team were already thinking through some of these issues, but the content of the curriculum is helping them wrestle with the implications of faith, work, and economics in their context. It’s also providing categories and language to help them talk about issues of race, justice and poverty in healthy, gospel-centered ways.
I also had an opportunity to speak with Marcus Little regarding the Everyday Works curriculum and here is what he had to say:
Everyday Works has given me, as a pastor, an essential tool in my belt to connect discipleship to Jesus to the 90% of my peoples’ lives that happen outside of church activities. It gives theological language, practical principles and real-life example of how Christ followers can live their faith in all the spheres they are called to. It has affirmed the faith of many of our people, giving them a sense that all aspects of their lives are consecrated.
Darrell has had this to say elsewhere about the curriculum:
We had at least three major outcomes in mind as we developed this curriculum. First, we wanted to help people in the church (and the pastors leading them) rethink their understanding of “work” and begin to see their regular jobs as an avenue of both discipleship and mission. We want people to discover that even the most mundane jobs they endure are seen and blessed by God as expressions of meaningful love and service for others. Michael Wittmer and Amy Sherman provide a theological foundation for work and a vision for how we can steward our “everyday work” for the Kingdom of God.
Second, we wanted to help people take that theology of work and apply it to issues related to economics, poverty and community development. We wanted to challenge Christians to identify (and if necessary rethink) their assumptions about poverty and people who are poor. By reflecting on the economic systems we live in, we can develop an approach to poverty that is filled with equal parts compassion and justice. Rudy Carrasco, Artie Lindsay, and Peter Greer explored practical wisdom on economics and how to think about poverty alleviation both locally and globally.
Integral to this discussion is the topics of race and racism, which efforts at poverty alleviation eventually confront. Our speakers waded into this conversation with grace and clarity. Race is a fraught topic for many, and churches in the majority culture can be tempted to avoid engaging the challenges, seeking instead to be generous from a distance. That disconnected approach is unnecessary. Churches from diverse settings have the opportunity to build relationships across cultural divides if we come with patience, humility, a priority on relationships (rather than immediate results) and a biblical theology of work and the imago dei. Our third goal with this curriculum was to provide basic insights for any follower of Christ or church to take next steps in this effort with grace, wisdom and empathy.
Here is a visual describing the four parts of the curriculum including many of the topics being presented.
I strongly encourage you to check it out for yourself and for use with others in your church or workplace!