Serve the City

In Jeremiah 29 God tells the Israelites in exile to work for the good of the city. Tim Keller’s Faith and Work sermon breaks this down into three calls:

  • settle in
  • don’t melt
  • serve others  

We are called to be distinctive yes, but also to be in the mix. To look around, see what the city needs to flourish, and then jump in and contribute to improving the culture around us.

Download, or listen to Keller's full sermon here.

Theology of Work

The website provides a curated library of resources related to understanding faith and work. In 10 Key Points About Work in the Bible that Every Christian Should Know, project co-chair Andy Mills outlines their perspective, tying each insight to scripture and original commentary on those passages. The post is a remarkably concise primer on faith and work, and the website is a remarkably deep library for further study. As a preview, here are the 10 key points:

  1. Work is part of God’s big picture.
  2. Our actual work matters to God, now and eternally.
  3. God provides us with unique skills, gifts and talents, and calls us to particular roles and activities
  4. Quality, character, and ethics are foundational for our work.
  5. Our work is yoked with Christ.
  6. Our work should be centered on service to others.
  7. A rhythm of work and rest is essential to life.
  8. The use of wealth and our investments should be directed by God.
  9. God's work multiplies through relationships and through the local church
  10. Work is a gift from God

Culture Making

Using Jeremiah 29 [Net Bible] Bryan asked us yesterday to think about how we interact with the culture around us. This provocative topic has been given considerable thought by Andy Crouch in his book Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling. [on Amazon]

Andy argues there are four ways Christians have historically responded to culture:

  1. Rejection of culture, in which we withdraw. 
  2. Critique of culture, in which we find its faults.
  3. Consuming culture, in which we uncritically accept it.
  4. Creating culture, in which we participate in making something better of our world. 

His book dives deeper into each of these perspectives, but the bulk of it is on the fourth, and how culture is created not in big PR campaigns but in everyday simple acts like being the house in your neighborhood where kids gather, baking bread for your family, or how you do your work day-to-day.

In other words, you're already creating culture every day. Andy's book helps us see how that happens and, through this new awareness, to be a little more intentional about the culture we are making. 

The Other Six - Part 4: The Pleasure of Work

Sermon Questions: 
1. What keeps me from taking pleasure in my work? From seeing my work as a gift?
2. How does my work help me "love my neighbor"? How does it benefit others? 
3. Where am I called? What has God made me to do?
4. How can the gospel enable and empower me to enjoy my work, even if it's not ideal? 

Discussion Questions: 
1. Think of some of the work you’ve most enjoyed — what makes work enjoyable? And what
most damages joy in work?
2. How would a film introduce a character doing your job and loving it?

Make Good Tables

The church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him to not be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours and to come to church on Sundays. What the church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.

Dorothy Sayers from her essay Why Work [full essay] as quoted in Every Good Endeavor [Amazon listing

To Eliminate Poverty, Work for Prosperity

When the prophet Jeremiah brings the word of the Lord to the exiles in Babylon, he tells them to work for the prosperity of the city. (29:7 link to Net Bible) Notice that he doesn't say to "fight poverty" but instead to work for prosperity. 

In many ways, poverty is like darkness -- it is not a thing, but the absence of a thing. Darkness can only be overcome by the addition of light. Likewise, the solution to poverty is the creation of prosperity. 

In this 15 minute TEDx talk, Nigerian Efosa Ojomo, applies these ideas to the context of Africa today. 

Week Three - Further Reading

Listed below are several of the books (and an essay) Bryan mentioned in this week's sermon:

Every Good Endeavor, by Tim Keller
A widely praised book on Faith & Work [Amazon]

Growing Leaders, by James Lawrence
The "Cycle of Grief" which Bryan explained, and Jon Parrish has recently used as well, is explained in this book on Christian leadership. [Amazon

Why Work, by Dorothy Sayers
A charming, oft-quoted, and remarkably powerful essay on the relationship of faith and work. [Essay]. Excerpted from Sayers' book, Letters to a Diminished Church [Amazon]

Start With Why, by Simon Sinek
Simon's 18 minute TED Talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action is the third most watched TED talk ever and summarizes the importance of starting with why. His book elaborates. [Amazon

The Other Six - Pt. 3: The Power for Work

Sermon Questions:

1. What is my "why"? Why do I do the work I do?
2. Where do I get sucked into the cycle of grief? When am I working for acceptance?
3. How can the gospel lens give me a new or renewed vision for my work?
4. What are the implications of a gospel lens for the specific work I am called to do?

Discussion Questions: 

1. What does God provide to the world directly and what does he typically provide through people working?
2. What is worth doing, despite all the problems?

Your Work is Your Prayer

If laypeople cannot find any spiritual meaning in their work, they are condemned to living a certain dual life; not connecting what they do on Sunday morning with what they do the rest of the week. They need to discover that the very actions of daily life are spiritual, and enable…people to touch God in the world, not away from it. Such a spirituality will say…’Your work is your prayer.’
— William E. Diehl, The Monday Connection: A Spirituality of Competence, Affirmation, and Support in the Workplace

Work Songs


The Porter's Gate Worship Project describes their mission as "a creative movement aimed at reimagining and recreating worship that welcomes, reflects and impacts both community and the Church."

In June of 2017, they "hosted a two-day consortium in New York City, where a group of 60 songwriters, musicians, scholars, pastors and music industry professionals from a variety of worship traditions and cultural backgrounds gathered for meaningful conversation about worship and vocation."

The result of those conversations is their first album entitled "Work Songs" which they describe as "modern hymns centered on affirming vocation as an integral part of a life of worship."

Hear here

Working Godward

[We] are called to take what God has made in all of its now-present falseness and remake it into something Godward and beautiful and Christ-honoring with a deep sense of fulfillment of who we are as created in the image of a maker.
— John Piper

In this brief interview with Pastor John Piper, he reflects on Dorothy Sayers' book Mind of the Maker (Amazon) and how it helped him to see all work as beginning with what God has made and seeking to remake it into something that honors him, just as Christ is remaking us. 

Doing Less

Many find work overwhelming and exhausting. There is literally always more to do. Always. In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKewon guides readers through reflection on what matters most and what we can let go of. Many have found this book a helpful guide in silencing the often overwhelming superfluous demands for our attention, so we can focus on the heart of our real work. (Amazon link)


"The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless."
— Greg McKewon