Working with God: the practice of connecting Christian faith with everyday work
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AbstractAgainst the background of moves, especially in the Church of England, to close the so-called Sunday-Monday gap and encourage whole-life discipleship, this thesis explores the ways that Christians connect their faith with their everyday work in practice. The research is based on analysis of semi-structed interviews with thirteen self-identifying Christians in non-faith-based paid employment who were associated with an evangelical Anglican church in the South East of England. Working with the theological consensus that sees work as co-operation with God, I found that the dimension of closeness, or proximity, to God and God’s purposes characterised the most salient connections between faith and work. Using categories from David Miller’s The Integration Box/Profile, participants tended to experience their work most strongly as co-operation with God when they could perceive God’s purposes being achieved at the closest, micro, level of their everyday activities. This tended to be more salient than a perceptually more distant connection at the mezzo (corporate) and macro (societal) levels of the overall activity and purposes of the enterprise. Such micro level connections were reinforced by experiences of God’s presence and providential activity at that level, framed as personal encounters with God. The more that participants experienced these close connections in their workplace experience, the more they felt that they were working with, as opposed to merely for, God. This suggests that teaching an overarching, macro-level, theological framework within which daily work finds a place will not be sufficiently salient to overcome the Sunday-Monday gap on its own. In several cases the experience of close co-operation with God was associated with deliberate practices of attentiveness and reflection. The evidence suggests, however, that further encouragement and training in such practices, perhaps especially in a workplace group setting, could have a significant impact on workplace discipleship. In identifying the significance of proximity to God and God’s purposes and connecting the experience of proximity with particular Christian practices, this thesis resources practitioners aiming to nurture workplace discipleship.
CitationLeach, J. (2022). Working with God: the practice of connecting Christian faith with everyday work [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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