Category: Community

From the Karam Forum: Jesus and Paul as Economic Teachers

The Karam Forum is using a unique “flipped conference” model for their January conference, releasing the talks now and discussing them in January at the conference. Check out more info below as reported in the Oikonomia Network newsletter, and register for the conference here.

Following our unique flipped conference model, the Oikonomia Network is proud to present the first two talks for Karam Forum 2018. The future is now!

Check out these talks on Jesus as an economic teacher and Paul’s idea of the oikonomia theou ­– the economy of God. The speakers. Joshua Jipp and Nathan Hitchcock, will be with us at Karam Forum for discussion and collaboration, so register today to join us in Los Angeles on Jan. 4-5! (Don’t forget, faculty and leaders at ON partner schools can get a coupon code for registration.)

In this highly personal talk, Joshua Jipp of Trinity International University shares stories of his grandfather on the Iowa farm where he grew up. Jipp asserts that his Grandpa Wayne lived the way he did because he had absorbed key economic teachings from Jesus. The Parable of the Rich Fool provides a focus for these teachings.

Jesus teaches us to choose contentment over consumerism. He warns us that greed will deceive us into thinking life or happiness is about consumption. The rich fool worked to store up goods for himself; Grandpa Wayne knew that a good life does not consist in possessions.

Jesus teaches us to value productivity over extraction. Created in the image of a creative God, our role is to create value for others, rather than seek to take it from others. The rich fool didn’t work for what he had; he used his social position to exploit other people, getting his goods through their work without contributing himself. Grandpa Wayne had run-ins with that kind of person, too, but he obtained all he had through his own work.

Jesus teaches us to pursue community over isolation. Our good is intertwined with the good of our neighbors. The rich fool hardly even knew he had neighbors; he was too busy thinking about himself. Grandpa Wayne worked to benefit others, and was generous with what he had.

Nathan Hitchcock of Sioux Falls Seminary unpacks the meaning of a biblical term that’s very familiar to readers of this newsletter: oikonomia. He points out that Paul uses this term frequently, comparing Paul’s “economy of God” with the gospels’ “kingdom of God.” We usually don’t notice the importance of this term, however, because it’s translated differently in different passages.

Walking through the use of the phrase oikonomia theou in Ephesians, Hitchcock argues that God’s creation plan – the economy of God – is an audacious enterprise.

God’s enterprise is all-encompassing; there is nothing that isn’t part of God’s plan for his world. It includes the work of Yvette, who once struggled to see how her banking job connects to God but now does her daily work in a way that aligns with God’s economy.

God’s enterprise is all-in; our commitment to it should be as unreserved and self-sacrificing as God’s own commitment to it. Knowing that God is all-in helps David, who works in crisis counseling, avoid the twin traps of workaholism and dropping out.

God’s enterprise is all-including; every person is called to join as a partner in the divine project of creation. God recruits sketchy partners like Paul (a violent racist) and Matthew (a tax collector) – and John, a recovering addict and mentally challenged individual who has discovered how God can use him for great things in his daily work.

Check out these videos as you prepare for Karam Forum – and consider using them with students in your classes!

What does Madam Secretary have to say to the Faith & Work movement?

Recently, while enjoying a day away from the office, I was catching up on Madam Secretary. Madam Secretary is a television show that presents the day-to-day life of Dr. Elizabeth McCord, who serves as the Secretary of State. The show does a good job of presenting the entirety of her life, including work and family. One scene from this episode…

Book Review: Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work

Story and metaphor are a powerful means for education on a variety of subjects, including faith & work. StoryCorps has published a book titled Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work whose purpose is to tell the story of individuals at work. Callings is written by Dave Isay. Isay is the founder of StoryCorps and the recipient of numerous broadcasting…

First Presbyterian Church of Houston Announces “Project Flourish” to Renew the City

This press release came across our desk a few days ago and we thought it was well worth bringing to your attention. — TGR First Presbyterian Church of Houston ( has unveiled Project Flourish, a creative invitation to the community to help bring fresh ideas to the issues that face a major metropolitan city like Houston. Through Project Flourish, First Presbyterian…

Dignity for All: Brookwood Community Offers Work to People with Disabilities

When Yvonne Streit’s young daughter Vicki suffered brain trauma back in the 1960s as the result of complications from mumps, she found nowhere to turn for help. Programs to aid those with physical and intellectual disabilities in finding a way to contribute meaningfully to society were scarce at best. So Yvonne created one. While it began as a tiny project…

Talking about Work: Studs Terkel Recordings Rediscovered

For all of the national conversations about a universal income, unemployment rates, the threat of automation, politicians’ promises for more jobs, etc., the daily experiences of individuals and their jobs can get lost. That’s one reason why Studs Terkel’s 40+ year-old interviews with American workers still resonate today. Terkel published his iconic book in 1974. It was called Working: People Talk…