The Faith and Work Summit: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Remember all those Faith at Work Summit posts from a few months ago? Recently we checked in with Greg Forster, one of the 2018 Summit’s organizers, about the impact of the Summit – and its future.

TGR: Two months after the Summit, how would you reflect on its impact?

GF: I think we have really put two huge issues on the movement’s radar in a permanent way. One is the new economy that’s going to affect all the structures of work that we now take for granted, and it’s coming down the line at us whether we’re ready or not, and we’re not ready. Time to get ready! That points directly to the other issue – we need to learn how to draw on the Bible in much deeper ways, like unpacking what’s really involved in the biblical image of the shepherd. The rich theological tradition of Christians who have learned how to deal with social change from the Bible points to how this kind of deep biblical reflection is essential to coping with the changes coming our way now.

TGR: What sort of response have you had from attendees?

GF: We’ve been humbled, honestly, by the responses we’ve heard. I’m greatly appreciative that people noticed some things that we worked hard on, like making the summit more collaborative and being intentional about crossing cultural lines and creating dialogue that values multiple voices. Having said that we’re humbled, I’ll fall into pride here just long enough to mention that barely a hair under 60% of attendees rated the summit “excellent,” and when you include “excellent” and “good” together it’s 95%.

TGR: What directions do you think the Summit might move in the future? What suggestions would you make to the next hosts?

GF: The committee has already had some initial conversations about that, based on attendee feedback. We got strong affirmation of the new, more collaborative format, so it’s likely you’ll see that continue. We are talking about ways of adjusting it so we increase the total number of people who get to speak on stage; we’re hoping to broaden the scope of the collaboration without losing the tight focus on topics that we achieved this time. Another takeaway from attendee feedback in 2018 was that we overcorrected a bit on the number of workshops. People were asking for more workshops, so we gave them more workshops, and we ended up spreading people a bit too thin. So at the next summit we’ll pull back on that number, and ask the Lord to help us find a happy medium. (To my chagrin, the committee has rejected my suggestion that we turn the entire summit into a three-day debate, Leipzig-style, over the merits of the universal basic income.) [We think Greg is joking. We hope. – TGR.]

TGR: How can we help further the mission of the Summit?

GF: One need we’ve discerned is to raise funds, so we’re appealing to the Summit community to help us. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, revenues did not meet expenditures at the 2018 summit; Trinity International University is covering all the costs for that. We are also hoping to build up a reserve of funds for the next summit, to raise the confidence of future summit hosts. Our hope is to raise $50,000 for both those purposes. Donations are tax-deductible and go to Trinity International University. You can send a check to Trinity International University marked for the summit, or donate through the summit website.

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